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Glen a friend of Dixon New Zealander on a roll on road course

Most people have a good friend they can rely on, especially in harder times. For Indy Car Series driver Scott Dixon, his racing equivalent of that old friend is the twisting road course at Watkins Glen.

Dixon, a native of New Zealand, will be searching for his third consecutive win at The Glen with his Target-Chip Ganassi Racing team this weekend at the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix.

Dixon placed a strong second in three of the first five events this season, including the Indianapolis 500. He left Indy having overtaken his Ganassi teammate Dan Wheldon for the lead by a single point.

But runs of fourth at Milwaukee, 12th at Texas and 10th at Iowa saw him slide to third in the points parade, 52 behind leader Dario Franchitti. Dixon rebounded to place second behind Franchitti last Saturday at Richmond.

Dixon has moved to second but trails Franchitti, who has won the last two events, by 65 points. Richmond marked the 25th consecutive race that Dixon has been running at the end, tying the Indy Car Series record set in 2003-2005 by Tony Kanaan.

Dixon is hoping to gain in points on Franchitti at The Glen, where Franchitti placed third and 13th the last two years.

Dixon came into The Glen last season ranked fourth in points and made the most of it by winning. His victory in The Glen event in 2005 broke a 40-race winless streak for the 2003 Indy Car Series champion.

"Absolutely, we look forward to Watkins Glen," stressed Dixon. "I love the road courses and the short tracks, although it's been somewhat tough on the short tracks for me lately. I know last year at Watkins Glen we had a little bit of everything with the rain right before the race and starting with the wet tires and then changing to the slicks and it started raining again but we stayed with the slicks the rest of the way.

"The race went well for us and there was some attrition in the race. I just kept fighting to the end and kept my car underneath me. I love Watkins Glen. It's a great place with a lot of history and it is a very technical track to drive. I am waiting to get to The Glen."

Dixon knows he has more work ahead of him this season.

"It's been a strange season as we have had good runs and some consistency," said Dixon, 26. "Yet it has been frustrating because we've been so close to winning and when you don't it's disappointing. Of course we have had a car usually capable of winning, which is good. I also know that my teammate [Dan Wheldon] won twice this season so I want to do my part too."

Dixon was running second at Texas on June 9, with 31 laps to go and got involved in an accident with lapped traffic.

"I don't think we had a car capable of winning at Texas. Sam [Hornish Jr.] was the class of the field. But we sure had a car that was capable of getting second and to have an accident take that possibility away, again it's frustrating."

At the next stop at Iowa, June 24, Dixon started on the pole but had to exit the race for several laps with steering column problems. He returned to complete 173 of the 250 laps. He did not loose much ground in the points race as eight of the top 10 suffered either crashes or mechanical problems.

"At Iowa we sat on the pole and had a fast car that I think we had a great chance to win with. Then early in the race when I was sitting there in the pits with the steering column problem watching the cars go around was tough.

"I don't like to see other people have crashes and mechanical problems such as Tony [Kanaan], Danica [Patrick] and others. But their problems at Iowa sure helped us in the points although it didn't help that Dario won the race and he stretched his point lead at Iowa. I want to gain ground in the points over the next few races like Watkins Glen. I don't want to win a championship without winning a race."

While the Indy Car teams owned by Chip Ganassi have done their part to bring success to the organization, fortunes had been much tougher on the NASCAR side until Juan Pablo Montoya won the NASCAR Nextel Cup event June 24 at Sonoma, Calf. It was the first victory for a Ganassi owned car in NASCAR's top series since 2002.

"I am good friends with Juan and I haven't called him yet since the win but I did text message him and congratulate him," Dixon remarked. "I think it was big for him and for Chip because Chip hasn't had much success on the NASCAR side the last few years. It is also great for the Spanish fans. Overall it's good for Ganassi Racing when both the Indy Car and the NASCAR programs do well."

Montoya will get his shot at The Glen in August. Before then Dixon is hoping he will be the first Ganassi driver to grace The Glen's Victory Lane this season.

e-mail: lawrence_o_14075@aol.com

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