Manawatu Standard

Kiwi driver likened to ageless NFL legend

- Stuff sports reporters

Scott Dixon has been compared to American gridiron great Tom Brady as the Kiwi driver goes in search of a record-equalling seventh Indycar title.

Brady, 43, is a legend in the United States sporting scene with the star quarterbac­k defying his age, fresh off his seventh Super Bowl victory where he has been namedmvp five times.

Dixon is eyeing his 41st birthday in July as he starts the defence of his Indycar title when the 2021 season opens in Alabama this weekend.

‘‘Betting against the 40-year-old New Zealander has become almost like betting against Tom Brady. As much as fans want the ‘youth movement’ to truly take over, the quadragena­rians who have been around for decades seem to return to their top form and put the kids back in their place when it matters most, but when you least expect it,’’ Asher Fair wrote on Beyond The Flag as he previewed the Indycar championsh­ip.

The article noted that history stands against Dixon being champion in 2021, a title that would see him equal AJ Foyt’s record seven Indycar championsh­ips.

‘‘As accomplish­ed as Dixon is, sitting second to AJ Foyt on the championsh­ips list and third to Foyt and Mario Andretti on the all-time wins list, he has never managed to win back-to-back titles.

‘‘Even Tom Brady hasn’t won back-to-back Super Bowls since 2003-2004, and he’s only done it once. In fact, the current stint for Dixon is only the second time he has won two titles in three years.’’

Dixon himself says some unknowns are threatenin­g his current reign as the championsh­ip looks to operate for a second year amidst the uncertaint­ies of Covid.

He believes the unusual preseason and a late start at Barber in Alabama rather than the traditiona­l St Peterbsurg in Florida make it difficult to establish an early pecking order.

‘‘It is kind of hard to tell,’’ Dixon said on the Trackside podcast. ‘‘With this year, testing has been a bit scattered. We never really had an open test bar the one at Indianapol­is.

‘‘There is a lot of unknowns. It is going to be hard to see where we fit.

‘‘Last year, we needed to work on as a team qualifying on road courses. In 2019 I think we had one of the best qualifying averages, and then last year, we stunk it up a little bit.’’

While Dixon has never won at the Barber Motorsport Park, he has enjoyed plenty of success at the

Alabama venue. He has been on the podium eight times there and only twice has he failed to finish second or third.

But he would love to get a win. ‘‘Eight podiums, right?’’ Dixon said. ‘‘You keep knocking on the window, and eventually, it is going to have to open.

‘‘But it is a circuit I love. It is a place the team has done exceptiona­lly well at.

‘‘I’m just pumped to get the season started. It is kind of weird that we are not going to St Pete, but excited to see fans and get cracking on with 2021.’’

The Grand Prix of Alabama runs on Monday at 7 am (NZT).

 ??  ?? Scott Dixon, left, is chasing his seventh Indycar title, which would bring him level with the number of Super Bowl rings won by Tom Brady, right.
Scott Dixon, left, is chasing his seventh Indycar title, which would bring him level with the number of Super Bowl rings won by Tom Brady, right.

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