Dixon and Ganassi Primed for Return to Former Toronto Glory
Chip Ganassi Racing knows what it takes to win on the streets of Toronto, as noted by winning four events over the span of six years. However, the last victory for the organization came in 2013. Based on how things are playing out this season, though, the magic could be rekindled.
Scott Dixon’s last triumph in Toronto came in the form of domination, sweeping the double-header weekend after leading 81 of 85 laps in the second event on Sunday, July 14. Dixon’s pair of victories followed Dario Franchitti’s wins in 2009 and 2011.
While the organization has continued to run up front, they have failed to reach victory lane the past four years. It hasn’t been without effort, though, as they placed a driver in the top-five each year except for 2015 when Tony Kanaan missed out by one spot in sixth. It’s also worth noting in both 2014 doubleheader events, Ganassi had two drivers in the top-five.
Dixon has also qualified well each year, starting on pole last season and leading 56 of the 85 circuits before an ill-timed caution hurt his race strategy, resulting in an eighth-place finish.
This year, though, things could change in favor of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Honda has proven to have the better street course package over Chevrolet, sweeping the four events so far. Honda placed four drivers in the top-five at St. Petersburg, followed by three in the top-five at Long Beach. The double-header in Detroit saw the dominance continue, with four Hondas in the top-five for race one, followed by two in the second event.
Over the past three events at Exhibition Place, Kanaan has posted the better finishes – fourth, second and third – compared to Dixon’s eighth, seventh and fifth. However, if you’re placing your bet on Ganassi, Dixon is the better choice.
“I love coming to Toronto,” Dixon told POPULAR SPEED in May. “It’s a lot of fun. I think the fans are very enthusiastic, knowledgeable, the race has a lot of history here, and the track layout is very tough physically and technically, and even the added changes last year made it a tough circuit to wrap your head around. The atmosphere that this place has is one of the best street courses that we go to.”
He enters the weekend with more momentum as he currently leads the points standings, eight markers over Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves. The driver of the No. 9 Honda has run up front each week, posting one victory and six top-10’s in the last six races, compared to Kanaan’s struggles with three top-10’s in the same span.
Dixon has also run well at each of the street courses this season to date, posting a top-six finish in each of the four events, highlighted by a pair of podiums. He has also posted a top-eight finish in his last six Toronto appearances, including the pair of previously noted victories.
If the cards play into Dixon’s favor, this weekend could very well help shape the championship picture moving forward.
The New Zealand driver has used consistency to build his lead so far, with only one finish outside the top-10 with a crash in the Indianapolis 500. While the strategy has paid off, it has kept the focus off of Dixon with his name not surfacing in title conversation – till recently.
He caught the attention of those who hadn’t noticed his drive so far this year last month by picking up a dominant victory at Road America after leading 24 laps. Now if he could score a second victory this weekend, there would be no denying him as part of the conversation.
A win would also prove that Chip Ganassi Racing is back stronger than ever, ready to battle toe-to-toe with Penske Racing after the Captain swept the top-three spots in the points last year.
EMAIL ASHLEY AT firstname.lastname@example.org
FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.