IndyCar | Exclusive interview with Mario Andretti on Power and Dixon chasing and surpassing his records; McLaughlin is a "rare talent"

In the latest part of MotorLAT's exclusive interview with the 1978 F1 World Champion and four-time IndyCar champion Mario Andretti, we discuss the success of Will Power and Scott Dixon. He also heaps praise on outstanding talent Scott McLaughlin.

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IndyCar | Exclusive interview with Mario Andretti on Power and Dixon chasing and surpassing his records; McLaughlin is a "rare talent"
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Last weekend at Nashville, New Zealander and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon won a dramatic, crash-filled race to now sit solely 2nd on the all-time winners list in the series with 53 wins.

It put him one ahead of Mario Andretti after tying with the 82-year-old at Toronto last month.

Speaking to MotorLAT, Andretti was full of praise for Dixon.

“Obviously you like to keep a record. I mean it’s not an absolute record, but it’s my record. I am proud that I kept it for at least 38 years,” stated Andretti.

“Looking at Scott [Dixon’s] record along the way in his career and his age at the moment, it was not a matter of if [he would], it was a matter of when he was going to surpass mine. He did that in great style [at Nashville].

“Of course I have a great deal of respect for Scott, his abilities as a race driver and as a man. Kudos to him.

“As they say, records are made to be broken. If it goes to him, I’m quite happy. It shows how strong IndyCar is today and for its future. Veterans like Scott still seemingly have a lot of time left in their careers – and then you have some great talents coming on.

“Like all the major [racing categories], IndyCar is in a really good place with the driving talents they have. Our sport is strong.”

One record the four-time IndyCar champion does hold outright is the pole one – for now. He sits on 67. However, Penske's Will Power has moved to within one following his two poles at Iowa last month. The Australian also leads the standings by a mere six points from Dixon with just three events left. 

Andretti sees a lot of himself in Power because of the way the Australian attacks qualifying.

“I was always interested in his [Power’s] style of qualifying because I saw a lot of myself in there. [You] leave nothing on the table, whitewall the tyres on a street course and all the other things,” he said.

“Qualifying was really my rodeo. I just loved qualifying a race car for the obvious reasons. That’s the one time you just stay beyond the limit and just barely avoid disaster.

“From that standpoint, I’ve seen Will just really always press that envelope; that’s fun to watch. You can see that he’s been very successful in that area – and he’s not lost anything.

“I’m looking at all the young hotshots coming on – but the old guard is still telling them how the cow eats the cabbage.”

2022 has seen another rapid New Zealander show his talent in the IndyCar series.

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin had a tricky start to IndyCar life last year, but the Kiwi has made massive strides forward this term. He’s scored two wins this year and has an outside shot of winning the championship with three races to go.

The 29-year-old moved to the United States from Australia after the conclusion of the 2020 Supercars season. Down there, he won three consecutive titles in the touring car championship with DJR Team Penske – and ended a Triple Eight stranglehold on the series in the process.

Andretti has been hugely impressed by how quickly McLaughlin has adapted to IndyCar racing after spending a long period of time in touring cars – and he’s declared the Kiwi a ‘rare talent’.

“He [McLaughlin] has adapted just fabulously. I think it shows it seemed like he was doing this forever – even on an oval with a single-seater.

“He has not given up anything anywhere that we go – whether it’s a street course, a normal road course, a superspeedway or a short oval. He has shown to be a factor everywhere.

“He is really another rare talent that is certainly welcome anywhere he will go, but he is welcome in IndyCar.

“He’s another one you are going to be hearing about, reading about and watching for a long time.”


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