“He’s a beast.”
That’s how IndyCar legend Scott Dixon has described fellow Kiwi Scott McLaughlin after the Supercars star’s disappointing debut in Florida.
The legend of Dixon keeps growing, with the 40-year-old claiming his sixth IndyCar series title with a third placing in Florida on Monday.
Dixon said the hardest part of a “crazy” season came when the racing was shut down because of Covid-19 just before the first race, plunging the teams into two months of “unknowns”.
Watch the 2020 MotoGP season LIVE & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >
Dixon has now set his sights on equalling AJ Foyt’s record of seven IndyCar series wins, and claiming consecutive titles for the first time. But he told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that it was getting harder and harder to win.
Which makes it even more challenging for McLaughlin.
McLaughlin has joined IndyCar fulltime after winning three consecutive Australasian Supercars titles, but spun out on the temporary St Petersburg street circuit in his IndyCar debut.
Dixon said he has had little direct in-person contact with McLaughlin but was delighted to have another Kiwi in the series.
“I saw him briefly in a media portion of the weekend (but) the weekends are so compressed and none of the teams are really allowed to cross over,” Dixon said.
“You only get to see anybody while walking out to the pits, and we weren’t even close on pit lane.
“I spoke to him many times on text messages and I follow him relentlessly during his Supercars season, as much as Shane van Gisbergen.
“It was definitely a tough order for him to come into the last race when everybody is already up to speed, especially with the restricted time on track.
“But he did a fantastic job in practice, came up well short in the race and qualifying.
“Once he gets a bit of time in … he’s a beast, he’s a huge talent. And it’s so cool to have another Kiwi on the grid.”
Get all the latest motorsport news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!!
Dixon finished third in Florida, earning enough points to ensure that race winner Josef Newgarden could not overtake him for the title.
Dixon begins testing for the new season on Thursday, with Foyt’s record in his sights.
“Once you move up the lists it’s great to be among names like AJ Foyt, the Andrettis, the Unsers,” he said.
“The competition is probably the highest I’ve ever seen it … it’s definitely getting harder to win right now.
“The competition is getting so tight as they’ve done budget caps, restricted supplies – we used to get new cars every year and new updates every two races.
“There are not many tools you can manipulate and no real big teams like there used to be.
“If you made a mistake in the early 2000s, you might drop a spot or two, now a tenth or two tenths of a second and you are dropping six or eight spots.”
Dixon praised his team and was delighted to win a 13th title for owner Chip Ganassi.
“Winning becomes quite addicting … the competition is through the roof and it definitely keeps you motivated,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a milestone for us, to be one of only two to win six championships. It’s a huge accomplishment.
“I’m a very small part of what we do … there are almost 100 people running three cars just on the IndyCar programme.
“When I walked through the doors of this team in 2002 I was very intimidated by the attention to detail, and also just the will to win, going to every race weekend only thinking about winning.
“It’s a very powerful movement – I’m very lucky to work with the best in the business.”
This appeared in NZ Herald and was republished with permission.