Alongside the champion: Putting pieces together

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Second of three parts looking at the Verizon IndyCar Series championship season of Scott Dixon. Today, chief mechanic Blair Julian.

Scott Dixon is Chip Ganassi Racing Teams longest-tenured driver and Blair Julian has been on Dixon’s right side for more than a decade – initially as a mechanic and right-rear tire changer and more recently as chief mechanic and right-front tire changer on the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

The New Zealanders’ motorsports relationship dates to 1998, and together they’ve won the 2000 Indy Lights championship and 38 races on the way to securing four Verizon IndyCar Series titles.

Chemistry and consistency – Dixon has placed in the top three of the championship standings each of the past 10 years – are the underpinning of success. Julian’s primary tasks are to have the crew translate directions from the engineering group regarding the car’s initial set-up and subsequent alterations and check and re-check that the car will pass technical inspections.

Of course, there are many other unwritten duties that Julian and the crew attend to without fanfare.

Click it: Part 1, engineer Chris Simmons

“We’ve done the same as we do every year and try to be prepared and make sure that our end of the deal is not the weak link in the system,” says Julian, whose brother Anton is the crew chief/chief mechanic for the No. 67 CFH Racing entry. “We had some new guys this year, which creates sort of a different dynamic. It’s been beneficial for all of us to change things up.

“Within our four-car group that we work with, everyone knows each other and have worked together remotely so we all know what’s going on. So that shuffle has been good. I’ve felt better on my side and better prepared.

“Everyone pitches in. More so this year with the condensed schedule and (Chevrolet aerodynamic) bodywork coming on late and the aero configurations changing constantly and pressure to nail it once we get on the track. We managed to avoid big mistakes, though there were some things with the car that surprised us.”

On pit lane, Julian’s attentive gaze is fixed on Dixon’s visor and he motions for the driver to hit the racetrack until the next service stop. After each practice session, a nod between the longtime friends and teammates signifies a job well done.

“Scott is so level; he never really gets too upset about anything,” Julian says. “A little bit of emotion sometimes. He never really throws his toys out of the car, so to speak.”

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