AP Exclusive: Mixed emotions for Dixon after armed robbery
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The whole plan had been to celebrate Scott Dixon's pole-winning run for the Indianapolis 500 at a downtown Italian restaurant.
But the restaurant was closed by the time Dixon had completed his media obligations Sunday night.
''Really only the next choice was to get fast food,'' Dixon told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday.
So Dixon and friend Dario Franchitti headed to Taco Bell, where Dixon planned to order his usual Cheesy Gordita Crunch, subbing beans for the meat. Just a mile down the road from hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the two were robbed at gunpoint while waiting in the drive-thru lane.
''It was definitely shocking, disbelief for the most part,'' said Dixon, who acknowledged the ''bizarre contrast'' of being robbed a few hours after the high of winning the pole for the fabled race coming up this Sunday.
''It will make you feel really small again,'' Dixon said.
Dixon has been advised not to discuss details of the Sunday night robbery, in which police arrested two boys, ages 15 and 14, a short time later. Tony Kanaan, a teammate of Dixon's with Chip Ganassi Racing, told reporters that Dixon and Franchitti had their windows down when they were approached at gunpoint.
''They held a gun at Dixon's head and asked him for his wallet and his phone,'' Kanaan said.
Dixon, who is nicknamed ''The Iceman'' because nothing seems to rattle him, said he felt he and Franchitti remained calm throughout the incident. Both he and Franchitti are avid watch collectors; Dixon said the vintage Rolex he was wearing and ''a Daytona edition that Dario has been wearing as his lucky watch'' were the two most valuable things in the car. Neither watch was taken.
Dixon, by the way, won the pole using a white-knuckle setup from engineer Chris Simmons. His four-lap average was 232.164 mph, the best qualifying run in 21 years at Indy . When he saw his speed, Dixon thought the speedometer was broken.
It's the third pole at Indy for Dixon, the 2008 race winner and a four-time series champion, and he understands the significance of the achievement.
"Winning the pole really means a lot for the drivers," he said. ''You are trying to keep the car on its limits, so there's kind of respect amongst yourselves, in this community. Although the race is the important part, there's a great sense of pride in what we did Sunday.''
Two days removed from the rollercoaster of emotions, Dixon seemed intent on putting the robbery behind him and focusing on winning his second Indianapolis 500 as he made the annual off-day media tour, this time to Toronto. The New Zealander did have some reflection about his experience at Taco Bell - the choice only because McDonalds, a Ganassi team sponsor that had a location next door was closed for renovations.
''I think the biggest thing is you are just hoping that everything is OK, grateful that nothing silly happened,'' Dixon said. ''That's the world of difference. That aside, personally, it maybe brings you to think about choices you make.''
Like going to Taco Bell at 10 p.m. after winning the pole?
''I'd still go,'' he laughed.
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