“I’ve really got to sort my act out at that place,” Scott Dixon says.
That place would be the seaside streets of Long Beach, where the three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion remains winless.
Dixon, driver of the No. 9 car for Chip Ganassi Racing, will try to change that with a trip to Victory Lane in Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
“Long Beach is one of the most iconic tracks we run on,” said Dixon, who’s won 35 IndyCar races in his career. “But I’ve never won there.”
His best finish at Long Beach is fourth in eight prior starts.
Dixon, 34, was fourth-fastest in practice Saturday, and then he qualified third for the race with a lap of 106.081 mph on the 1.97-mile, 11-turn circuit.
Helio Castroneves won the pole position with a track-record 106.331 mph, besting the record of 105.898 mph set by Justin Wilson in 2008.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Castroneves’ teammate at Team Penske, qualified second at 106.285 mph.
Montoya and Castroneves also arrived in Long Beach atop the series title standings, with Montoya holding a 10-point lead over his teammate.
Dixon, a reserved New Zealander, won the series title in 2003, 2008 — a year in which he also won the Indianapolis 500 — and in 2013.
He’s off to a slow start this year. He finished 15th in the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 29, a race won by Montoya. Dixon then finished 11th last weekend in the Grand Prix of Louisiana.
That’s left Dixon a distant 15th in this year’s early championship standings; Long Beach is the third race of the 16-race IndyCar schedule.
“It’s a rough start,” Dixon acknowledged. “But it’s the early part of the season. I think we can turn it around.”
And Dixon knows how to overcome an early slump.
He also began 2013 poorly, and was eighth in the standings after the Indy 500, but then won four races on his way to capturing the title at the season finale in Fontana.
Reigning IndyCar champion Will Power also was expected to start up front Sunday. But the two-time Long Beach winner qualified 18th because another driver’s spin halted the qualifying session before Power could post a quicker time.
Jack Harvey won the pole position for Sunday’s race in IndyCar’s second-level Indy Light series.
The winner of Saturday’s pro-celebrity race was Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
Follow Jim Peltz on Twitter @PeltzLATimes