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Scott Dixon Fighting For 6th IndyCar Championship As The Series Heads To Pocono

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LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s win in the last NTT IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio is helping Dixon stay in the hunt for his sixth Championship.

“Those are the kinds of weekends that you need,” said Dixon reflecting on Mid-Ohio.  “You’ve got to take it.”

Dixon trails points-leader Josef Newgarden of Team Penske by 62-points heading into this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

“I think he’s going to be the person to beat,” said Dixon.  “That team is super strong right now and we’re going to have our work cut out.”

Two other drivers stand between Dixon and Newgarden.  Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi is in second place, 16-points behind Newgarden and Penske’s Simon Pagenaud is in third place, 42-points out of the lead.

The lead for any of the top four driver’s trailing Newgarden is not insurmountable because double-points are available at the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

Dixon is laser-focused on one thing, wins.

“Anything is possible,” said Dixon.  “We’ve just got to keep our head down; we can’t start thinking about that (points racing) right now.  If you win races that will take care of itself.”

IndyCar series teams should take notice that if Dixon gets on a roll, and the No.9 PNC Bank CGR team is certainly capable, the “Iceman” should not be counted out.

Dixon trailed Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya by 47-points going into the season finale in 2015.  Dixon and his “Wolfpack” crew went out, won the race and finished tied with Montoya atop the standings, winning the Championship by tie-breaker, 3-wins to 2.

Three Rivers Karting

The Ganassi team has been involved in eight of the closest IndyCar Series Championship finishes since 1999.

In 1999 Montoya, who was driving for CGR tied Dario Franchitti, who was driving for Team Green, with Montoya taking the title based on the tie-breaker of most wins with seven in his rookie campaign.

The 2006 Championship came down to a tie-breaker as well.  Dan Wheldon tied Sam Hornish Jr., who was driving for Penske, but lost the championship based Hornish’s four wins to Wheldon’s two.

Dixon rallied from 39-points behind in 2013 to beat Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves.  One of the wins on Dixon’s 2013 run to the Championship, came at Pocono.

In 2011 Franchitti, driving for CGR, edged his teammate Dixon by 11-points to win Franchitti’s fourth Championship.

Franchitti grabbed his third championship in 2010 by rallying from 59-points to beat Penske’s Will Power.

Franchitti’s first Championship in 2007 came with Andretti Green Racing.  Dixon was the runner-up finishing 13-points behind Franchitti.

Dixon picked up his first Championship in 2003 where he beat Penske’s Gil deFerran by 18-points. Dixon and de Ferran both won three races, but Dixon had 4-second place finishes versus one for de Ferran.

The ABC Supply 500 takes place Sunday August 18, 2019 with a one hour practice session Saturday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.  Qualifying takes place on Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.  Final practice is on Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

There will be an autograph session on Sunday in the Firestone Fan Village from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. with the green flag waving at 2:45 p.m.  Tickets and information is available at www.poconoraceway.com.

The race will be televised by NBCSN and can be heard on the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.

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Pato O’Ward wins INDYCARs race two in Detroit

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Joe Skibinski

DETROIT, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward passed Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden with three laps-to-go to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Race 2 on the temporary street circuit on Belle Isle.

“I have a lot of faith in myself whenever the car is wiggling around,” said O’Ward. “I know I’m very strong on cold tires, so I took advantage of it, got by people and got her done.”

The 24-hours of the island were certainly a battle for the team, who saw a frightening crash in race one on Saturday that sent teammate Felix Rosenqvist to the hospital Saturday night for observation.

“When you see something like that happen to a race driver, it puts your stomach in your throat,” said Taylor Kiel, President Arrow McLaren SP. “First of all, we’re happy that Felix is okay and he’ll be back with us soon. Certainly bringing home a victory was top of mind in trying to help Felix’s recovery a little bit, but man, what a great effort from everybody, certainly from the men and women on the 7 car to get that thing fixed and ready to compete today. But also the men and women on the 5 car, to make it a race-winning car. We had a great car today. Pato did what he needed to do. The team did what they needed to do. And when you execute like that, we’re tough to beat.”

Newgarden led a race-high 67-laps on Sunday and was obviously not happy.

Three Rivers Karting

“Just kind of was what it was there at the end,” said Newgarden. “Felt like we had a good car and just didn’t work our way strategy-wise and some of the times that we had to pit where we thought we had to pit because a yellow was probably going to come out, I think it all just didn’t play into our favor.”

The win also vaulted O’Ward into the Championship points lead as he is the only repeat winner of 2021.

O’Ward leads Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by one point, 299-298, and Scott Dixon (263) by 36-points.

The next race is the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR on Sunday, June 20 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with live coverage starting at noon (ET) on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network. On-track action starts with practice at 5:15 p.m. Friday, June 18, streamed live on Peacock.

IndyCar Detroit Results

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson scores first career INDYCAR series win Saturday in Detroit

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Chris Owens/INDYCAR

DETROIT, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson has been knocking on the door of victory the past two seasons but even he couldn’t have imagined how his first win would unfold.

Ericsson held off Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay and Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward over a three-lap shootout to win Race 1 of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit on the temporary street circuit on Belle Isle.

Ericsson was running second in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda, chasing Team Penske’s Will Power, when the caution flag flew on lap 65 for Romain Grosjean, who made contact with the wall in Turn 9.  INDYCAR officials decided to red-flag the race and sent the cars to pit road.

Later when officials restarted the race, Power’s car would not re-fire on pit road.  Power’s crew frantically tried to get the No. 15 Verizon 5G Chevrolet restarted and while they worked Ericsson inherited the lead.

“Unfortunately he (Power) had that problem, which I feel bad for him,” said Ericsson. “He did a great job today. But we’ve had some bad luck these last couple years. I felt like it was about time we had some good luck, so I’ll take it.”

Ericsson didn’t hesitate when the green flag waved, taking off with VeeKay and O’Ward giving chase.  Ericsson held off two of the series first-time winners to become the seventh different winner in seven races, tying a record set in 2017.

“Just had to finish it off with clean restart and clean laps,” said Ericsson. “I think I did a really good restart, then just control it till the end.”

Power was livid that the Series decided to red flag the race and the procedure employed when the cars hit pit road.

Three Rivers Karting

O’Ward understood Power’s frustration.

“I understand they want to end on green,” said O’Ward. “I bet you if I was Will, I’d be telling you no. I feel for him, man. The guy, I’m pretty sure he was the one leading. I think he would have walked away with it if it didn’t go red. It really sucks.”

The late red flag was the second of the race.  The first red flag came on lap 24 when Arrow SP’s Felix Rosenqvist had a throttle stick sending the car into the wall at turn 6 full throttle.

Rosenqvist was shaken-up but was awake and alert in the infield care center.  Rosenqvist was sent to the hospital for observation overnight.  The track barrier sustained damage and the red flag lasted one hour, 18-minutes.

Ericsson’s CGR teammates came into the race 1-2 in the season-long Championship standing with Alex Palou leading Scott Dixon by 36-points.

Palou finished 15th in the No. 10 American Legion Honda and Dixon brought home the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda eighth.

Palou now leads O’Ward by 15-points with Dixon in third place, 26-points back heading in Sunday’s race.

Live coverage of Race 2 of this doubleheader weekend, another 70-lap event, starts at noon (ET) Sunday on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

 

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou finishes 2nd in the Indianapolis 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou was in position to win the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 with three laps to go, leading the field across the yard of bricks. One problem, he had a 3-time winner stalking him from behind.

Palou did everything he could to keep Helio Castroneves behind him, but the Castroneves saw an opportunity as Palou encountered traffic on the next to last lap and pounced to make the pass for the lead and ultimately a record-tying 4th 500 victory.

“I tried everything,” explained Palou. “It hurts. But to be honest, it’s good to lose against probably one of the best. It was a close battle until the end. The good thing is that the two cars were Honda powered. That’s good. Congrats to Helio and Honda.”

Castroneves said he couldn’t duplicate the speed out front leading that Palou could.

“He was very good,” said Castroneves. “He was very fast. The Ganassi guys did a great job. They were very, very strong on their own. They really were able to do some amazing laps. I think it was almost 221. I try myself, and I couldn’t do it. I decided just to wait for the right opportunity.”

The right opportunity came with two laps-to-go when several cars, who were trying to make it to the end of the race without stopping for fuel, were up ahead of the pair racing for the win.

Three Rivers Karting

“When I saw the traffic, it was a bunch of it actually,” explained Castroneves. “I’m like, ‘That’s it, I’m not going to wait because I need that traffic to pull me so I can get the same speed’. When I made the move, I said, ‘That’s it’.”

“When he passed me, I was like, ‘Oh, maybe that’s going to be bad for me’ just because we were reaching the traffic,” said Palou. “As soon as you’re on traffic, you’re not P2 any more, you’re like P8. When you are P8 on a pack, it’s not easy to pass.”

Castroneves said after the race that Palou shouldn’t hang his head after finishing second in ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’.

“He has an incredible talent,” said Castroneves. “He won the first race of the season. Nothing to be shamed. I finished second three times. Did I stop because of that? No. He did a great job. He had a great car. He did everything he possibly could. Last year he didn’t finish. This year he finished second. That’s a big improvement. He should think about the positive side, not the negative.”

Palou was trying to find the positives after the race but he was also disappointed he didn’t win.

“I didn’t expect that a second place would hurt that much until I crossed the finish line,” said Palou. “It huts a lot. But I’m super proud, super happy. I think the No. 10 NTT Data car was super fast.”

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