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PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon Wins 3rd INDYCAR Race In-A-Row

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Chris Owens

ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won his third straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES race Saturday at Road America, holding off Team Penske’s Will Power on a couple of late restarts to grab the victory.

“I don’t know how that happened,” said Dixon in Victory Lane.  “Huge thank you to everybody on the PNC Bank team.  The car was really hard to drive this morning but we dialed it in a little better during the race.  That was awesome man”.

“It was a good drive,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi.  “We didn’t start exactly where we wanted to today but he persevered.”

Dixon’s crew made a crucial decision during the second round of pit stops to call Dixon in early while he was stuck in traffic running sixth.

Dixon came out of the pits ahead of the traffic alongside a hard-charging Power, who pitted a lap before the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.  While Dixon and Power were battling it out, the leader of the race Josef Newgarden came to pit road.

Disaster stuck for Newgarden when he stalled the car on pit road. Team Penske got the PPG Chevy restarted and the defending series Champion returned to the field in 15th position.

The pit-stop cycle shuffled the running order and Power and Dixon found themselves at the front of the pack followed by Santino Ferrucci in the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Honda.

“We came out of the pits they’re (the team) like ‘you and Power first and second’ and I was like ‘how?'” marveled Dixon.

The trio had a 5-second lead on fourth place Ryan Hunter-Reay with 20-laps left in the 55-lap event.  Three laps later the caution flag came out for this week’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast guest Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing. Harvey suffered brake failure, sending the No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM Honda into the gravel trap.

“I went into the corner at Turn Three and my brakes locked up and the wheels spun,” said Harvey. “There wasn’t much I could do when the brakes failed in that way. All year we’ve had a fast car and that is what is frustrating because this was a weekend that we could have had a top five. Something randomly happened that took us out of contention which is greatly disappointing for myself and the whole Meyer Shank Racing team. I know that we have the speed and these guys will work hard to figure out exactly what went wrong so that we can come back equally as strong tomorrow.”

Three Rivers Karting

Dixon’s “Wolfpack” crew executed a flawless pit stop under caution giving the 5-time series Champion the lead off pit road ahead of Power.

Dixon took the ensuing green flag with 14-laps-to-go and held off Power going into Turn 1 but before the lap was even complete, the caution was back out when Conor Daly was sent off the track by contact with Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward as the pair went into Turn 7.

“It really hard to go 2-wide through there but I had enough of a run you’ve got to take a chance,” said Daly.  “I don’t really race with him that much but it was tough there, that’s probably on both of us.”

The subsequent restart saw Dixon get away from Power but the yellow came out again when rookie A.J. Foyt Racing driver Dalton Kellett ended up in the gravel in Turn 14.

The green flag came back out with 8-laps to go and Dixon beat Power into Turn 1 and rookie Alex Palou beat Hunter-Reay to get third place.

Dixon built a lead of 1.2-seconds in one lap, 1.6-seconds in two laps and maintained that lead with 5-laps to go. Dixon extended the lead to 1.8-seconds with 4-laps to go, 2.3-seconds with three laps to go and 2.5-seconds with one lap to go.

The win was Dixon’s 49th career win leaving him three shy of INDYCAR legend Mario Andretti for 2nd place on the all-time wins list.  The victory marks the 2nd time Dixon has won three races in a row.  The first time was in 2013 when Dixon won Pocono and both Toronto races.

“It’s not me man,” said Dixon.  “The team does such an amazing job to cover all the bases.  We’re in the business of winning so we’ve got to win.  Proud of everybody on this team and obviously our partners like PNC Bank and Honda.  It’s really cool to win today.”

Dixon goes into tomorrow’s second race at Road America with a 62-point lead over Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the INDYCAR Championship standing.

Dixon will look to make it four-straight wins to start the NTT INDYCAR SERIES tomorrow in Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader at noon (ET, NBC) from Road America.

Road America Race 1 Results

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Josef Newgarden tops first INDYCAR practice as Laguna Seca

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Penske Entertainment: James Black

MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is starting INDYCAR Championship weekend off on the right pedal by leading the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session on Friday.

Newgarden’s No. 2 Hitachi Chevy turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 11.4103 seconds (112.824 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course circuit with Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta second-quickest at 1:11:8266 (112.170) in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.

“Yeah, just a tricky session,” noted Newgarden. “There was a lot of people going off, there was a lot of dirt on the track, so it was quite difficult to put it together. So not a very straightforward session. But I think very productive in a lot of ways. It’s not a lot of running, and you’re trying to make the most use of just a couple runs, and I felt like we did that, so I was happy about that.”

Championship-leader Will Power was 7th quickest, 1:11:9858 (111.922) in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy.  Power leads Newgarden and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon by 20-points heading into Sunday’s season finale.

“Tough track, man,” said Power. “Very low grip. You get one lap on tires, and they’re gone. It’s hard to get a read because the car changes so much over a run.”

Three Rivers Karting

Championship contender Marcus Ericsson was tenth fastest in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:12:0803 (111.775) and trails Power by ??-points in the title fight.

“I’m hoping it’s going to be a high-deg (tire degradation) race, and it seems to be that way,” said Ericsson. “Usually our team and myself from my experience, we’re usually pretty good at that. Yeah, the tires seemed to degrade quite quickly here. It was the same in the test and the same today in practice.”

Last weekend’s winner Scott McLaughlin was next in line with a 1:12:0877 (111.764). McLaughlin has an outside shot at the title as he sits ??-points behind Power.

Dixon, the six-time series Champion, was 17th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda at 1:12:3911 (111.295) despite a team test at the track a few weeks ago.

“It’s going to be a pretty high-deg  race, man,” said Dixon, who can tie INDYCAR Legend A.J. Foyt for all-time Championships with a seventh.

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Determined drive by Scott Dixon in Portland earns podium and shot at 7th Championship

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Penske Entertainment: James Black

PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is in the fight for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship after a third place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.

Dixon entered the race in third-place in the Championship fight, 14-points behind Team Penske’s Will Power and 11-points behind Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden.  Dixon leaves Portland tied with Newgarden but Power finished ahead of both and now sits 20-points ahead going into the season finale on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

“Yeah, you know, still in it,” said Dixon. “That’s all that we can hope for.”

Dixon started the race from the 16th position after failing to advance out of the first round of knockout-style qualifying on Saturday.  Qualifying has been a bit of an ‘Achilles heel’ for the No. 9 this season.

“We’ve got to work on qualifying and stop making it so difficult on us,” reflected Dixon, who gained more positions (+13) than anyone in the field from the start to finish of the race. “The car was fantastic in Q1 on the box. Didn’t expect too much of a change and thought we would have converted easy and didn’t even make it. We have to stop doing these most improved days, for sure. It’s not that much fun.”

Dixon opened the race on the less-grippy Firestone primary tires while the majority of those starting ahead of him started on the stickier Firestone alternate tires and quickly moved up a couple of spots before being one of the first to come to pit road for his first pit stop on Lap 13.

Dixon’s No. 9 ‘Wolfpack’ crew swapped out the primary tires for the alternate tires, topped the PNC Bank Honda off with fuel and sent the six-time series Champion back out into the fight where he put his foot down and continued to gain positions as various strategies started playing out.

Dixon’s second to last pit-stop saw his crew put on used alternate Firestones, setting him up for new alternate tires for his final pit stop.  Dixon was chasing Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi for fifth place when CGR Managing Director and Dixon’s strategist Mike Hull called him to pit road for the last time.

“We had to use a lot of overtake early on, so that definitely changed things up, I think, for the strategy towards the final five there,” said Dixon. “Had a tricky moment with the 10 car coming in front of us in the pit, which kind of screwed us a bit as well, and lost a position that we should have got on Rossi, which was frustrating.”

Three Rivers Karting

Dixon’s frustration was short-lived as the caution came out on Lap 84 when Rinus VeeKay misjudged a pass on Dixon’s teammate Jimmie Johnson, pinching the No. 48 Carvana Honda into the wall ending Johnson’s day.

The 4-lap caution period set-up a restart with Scott McLaughlin leading Power, Pato O’Ward, Newgarden, Rossi and Dixon as the green flag dropped.  McLaughlin got a great start and Power settled in behind his teammate when O’Ward made an ambitious move trying to pass Power in Turn 1. It didn’t work.

“Yeah, he sent it straight into me,” Power explained. “I left as much room as I could. Inside, inside, and I kept going further, and, bam, he hit me over the curve. I didn’t expect it from Pato, though. He is usually a pretty good racer, pretty smart racer. He was probably needing to win the race to have a shot at the championship, so he probably just went a little bit too far.”

Turn 1 usually produces some memorable highlights at Portland and this restart was no different as right behind the Power/O’Ward tussle, Newgarden and Rossi got together opening the door for Dixon, who didn’t hesitate to take advantage.

“I think when I saw Josef break I was, like, ‘Wow, I’m not sure if he is going to make the corner,'” said Dixon. “He did all that he could to make the corner, but put him at a weird angle, and that, obviously, offset him and Rossi because Rossi had a great run on him out of 12 into turn one. Then, got a great exit.”

Dixon turned hard left, avoided that calamity, and carried the momentum through the turn and set his sights on O’Ward, who was still gaining speed after hitting Power and made a reactionary move to Dixon’s passing attempt, which is a violation of INDYCAR rules.

“I got a run on Pato, and he put a pretty big block on, and a lap later IndyCar called that, and I was able to get past, which thankfully I think the front three, we pulled a ten-second gap on the next pack where we pulled away really quickly,” said Dixon. “It was a great restart. Something that definitely helped us on the points side, and we’ll take what we can.”

Dixon set his sights on Power and was able to get within a second of the No. 12 Chevy but wasn’t able to challenge for the second spot on the podium.

“We did as much as we could today,” said Dixon.  “All in all, I think the team did a great job today. Yeah, we’ll see. See what comes next week. I think it’s pretty cool that we don’t need any resets or any chase championships or anything like that. It always comes down to the wire in the INDYCAR Series.”

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Ganassi’s Alex Palou won’t repeat as INDYCAR Champion

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Chip Ganassi Racing

PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou’s hopes of repeating as NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion is over after Palou was mathematically eliminated after his 12th-place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.

Palou stated the race in the fourth position on Firestone alternate red sidewall tires and ran in the Top 5 through the first stint of the race.  Palou however radioed the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants crew during the second stint that something was wrong with the rear of the car.  Palou was on the less-grippy, black sidewall Firestone tires.

Three Rivers Karting

“Starting fourth, we were running okay in the beginning and then lost a bit of pace,” said Palou. “We’ll check on what went on today and recover next week in Laguna. We still have one race to go, and we will try to win it.”

Palou’s sits 66-points behind championship leader Will Power going into the season finale next Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Palou’s teammates Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson remain in the title fight with Dixon tied for second place, 20-points behind Power and Ericsson 39-points out of the top spot.

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