ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — Weekends at IndyCar tracks are a little quieter this season for Scott Dixon. The outgoing Tony Kanaan isn’t around anymore at Chip Ganassi Racing to share a laugh.
Their friendship has lasted, though.
“I think the thing I’ve commented on the most is probably how quiet it’s been without TK,” Dixon said. “He’s a huge character and we had a ton of laughs with him around.”
Well, Kanaan might have one issue with Dixon.
“I don’t miss him beating me every weekend,” Kanaan said this week with a smile. “But that’s part of it. That’s just Scott Dixon.”
Join the club, TK.
Dixon heads into the open-wheel series’ next stop at Road America this weekend having won two of the last three races. The four-time series champ has surged into the lead in the driver standings, 23 points ahead of Alexander Rossi.
After taking the first of two street races at Belle Isle on June 2, Dixon took the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway a week later. Now it’s back to the 14-turn road course at Road America, where Dixon won last year.
“For us now, it’s just making sure we don’t make the most mistakes, making the most out of it. Some of it is dialing in the new car a little bit more,” Dixon said Friday after practice. “But you can’t rely on any of that. Each weekend, you hope you roll off the track fast because you don’t get a whole lot of time to really devote around it.”
Kanaan is in 14th place in his first season with A.J. Foyt Racing. Kanaan and Dixon did reunite professionally with Ganassi to drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend in France before Kanaan returned to his full-time IndyCar ride.
The Kanaan family hitched a ride to Wisconsin with Dixon.
“We work out together. Yesterday, we just went out in the afternoon for a bike ride,” Kanaan said. “My family just flew on his plane straight to Road America. So we became personal friends, apart from race weekends.”
It’s a friendship forged during Kanaan’s four seasons as a Ganassi teammate with Dixon. But Ganassi dropped from four teams to two this season, with 23-year-old Ed Jones joining Dixon.
Dixon enjoys working with Jones, though he also misses the opportunities to work directly with Kanaan at the track.
“I like the two-car (team) but I miss the four-car — so much data to look at, there were so many more people on the team,” Dixon said earlier this month. “I actually enjoyed the fact that you had so much stuff to look at, which has changed some now.”
Like Dixon, the 43-year-old Kanaan has a young driver for a teammate, 19-year-old Matheus Leist.
“We’ve got one old man, we’ve got a young kid,” the 83-year-old Foyt said, sitting across from Leist at a table at the team trailer in between practices Friday. “While (Leist) is coming up, he and Tony are very close. He can talk to Tony and ask him questions.”
Kanaan doesn’t mind the extra work that might come with breaking in a rookie. With two decades of experience, Kanaan has encountered just about every imaginable scenario on the track.
When he was teammates with Dixon, Kanaan had another experienced driver with whom to compare notes and analyze data. The connection off the track has lasted.
“Scott’s really private,” Kanaan said. “And then sure enough, as soon as I joined Ganassi, we became really close friends.”
NOTE: Josef Newgarden had the top speeds in both practice sessions Friday, with a high lap of 140.804 mph around the 4-mile track. Rookie Robert Wickens was second (140.428), while Sebastien Bourdais was third (140.292).
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