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A two-time series champion and winner of 27 races _ including the 2008 Indy 500 _ Dixon has been stymied since Franchitti returned to the series after trying NASCAR in 2008. Dixon has won 10 races since Franchitti returned to IndyCar _ as his teammate at Ganassi, no less _ but no championships.

He finished second in the championship race to Franchitti in 2007, when they weren’t teammates, and again in 2009, when they won five races each as teammates. It was the first of three consecutive championships for Franchitti, as Dixon has finished second, third and third the last three years.

In races, Dixon has finished second to Franchitti six different times.

Ganassi team manager Mike Hull said he has noticed a difference in Dixon since the driver returned from vacation right before the start of the season.

“He’s made a total commitment to winning races, and has shown so much maturity,” Hull said after the race in Indy. “He’s not out there trying to lead the most laps, he’s trying to win the race. He did it perfectly on Sunday, he did everything he was supposed to do, and ran the perfect race. It just didn’t work out for him at the end. He’s an enormously talented race driver. Over time, he’s proved that over and over and over again.

“He’s matured a lot as a person, which has helped him in the car as a race driver.”

Franchitti said he’s noticed a difference every year since they were teamed in 2009.

“Since we got together in 2009, I’ve just seen him work harder and harder each year,” Franchitti said. “He’s always worked hard on his fitness, but his mental approach to racing, he’s really just stepped that up. It’s paid dividends.”

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