LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is sitting on a 72-point lead in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship standings despite an uncharacteristic weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 5-Time Series Champion.
Dixon and CGR were hoping to pad their points lead at a venue where the track President Craig Rust said, “Scott kind of owns this place.” A track where the “Iceman” has 6-wins and the team has 11-wins.
The weekend didn’t unfold that way. Dixon started Race 1 on Saturday in the 17th position after struggling in qualifying. Dixon worked his way up through the field early but couldn’t make up any more ground once he got to the Top 10. Contact at the end of pit road with Colton Herta didn’t help. Dixon finished 10th.
Team Penske’s Will Power won the race and his teammate Josef Newgarden, Dixon’s closest pursuer in the Championship, finished second to gain 20-points in the title fight.
“It’s was just OK for us today in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda,” said Dixon. “It just didn’t play out the way we thought it would. We went with a cautious move and made sure we ran the red tires first based on what we saw in qualifying. I guess looking back maybe we should have gone the other way, but who knows? Then we got caught up with (Colton) Herta on the pit exit, and I’m not sure what happened there or why he slowed up or whatever, but I thought we might have broken the front end after that. I hit him pretty hard, but I guess at the end of the day we made up seven or so spots, and that’s a small win.”
Sunday’s Race 2 looked like the No. 9 team would have a better day. Dixon qualified third and barely missed a first lap accident when Santino Ferrucci, who went off track approaching Turn 4, came back on track right beside the points leader. Ferrucci made contact with his teammate Alex Palou, who made contact with Dixon’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist ending both drivers days.
Dixon settled in behind Herta, who was leading, and remained there through the first round of pit stops. The No. 9 team elected to go with the Black sidewall “primary” Firestone tires while the other front runner elected to go with the faster Red sidewall “alternate” tires, which are initially quicker but do not last as long as the primary tires.
Disaster struck on Lap 22 when Dixon lost control of the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda in turn 1, the fastest corner on the track. Dixon didn’t hit anything but the track remained under green flag conditions dropping him to 20th position.
“We really struggled on the restarts with tire pressures for some reason,” said Dixon. “I had a bunch of guys in front of me on alternate tires and I got too aggressive. I got on the overtake button at the exit of Turn 1 and spun the tires and spun the car. It was just a stupid, rookie mistake and I feel bad for the PNC Bank team.”
SCOTT DIXON SPINS!
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) September 13, 2020
Dixon and his “Wolfpack” Crew put their heads down and went to work, fighting back to a 10th place finish by passing rookie Rinus Veekay on the last lap.
“We managed to fight back until the very end and pick up some spots,” said Dixon, obviously frustrated with the way the day transpired. “We should have never been in that position to begin with.”
Newgarden and the No. 2 PPG Paints Team Penske crew couldn’t take advantage of Dixon’s misfortune and finished only two-spots ahead in 8th place.
“We were just a little too average today,” said Newgarden. “We were just kind of stuck where we were all day, to be honest. We just need to work on getting a little more race pace. I think that’s what we were lacking.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has the next two weekend off before returning with the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix Doubleheader October 2-3 on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Dixon won in July.
Scott Dixon wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Music City Grand Prix; Moves to 2nd in Championship
NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Scott Dixon is sitting second in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship standings after winning Sunday’s Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville.
“It was a wild day,” said Dixon. “We had a good start. I thought things were going well, and then we came in for the first stop, and the air jacks failed or the hose failed. We went all the way to the back and got into the chaos in turn five or six and just got rolled over the back and hit pretty hard.”
Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank crew assessed the damage and the 6-time Series Champion made four pit stops to fix the wounded machine.
“Actually, we couldn’t get the wheel off because it was stuck on the brake caliper,” explained Dixon. “Took the team a lot of time to get that off, but then it ripped a bunch of the underfloor off of the car as well and all the strakes.”
Dixon returned to the fight and inherited the lead when Josef Newgarden hit pit road for fuel and held off Scott McLaughlin following a restart with 2-laps to go to pick up his second win of the year and 53rd of Dixon’s career, which gives him sole position of second-place on the All-time INDYCAR wins list. A.J. Foyt is the All-Time leader with 67 wins.
Dixon and the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda started 15th in the field and picked up a number of spots at the start of the race and settled into top 10 as McLaughlin, who started on the pole, took control out front early.
McLaughlin led 22-laps but dropped into the middle of the field in the middle part of the race.
“We had a fast car,” said McLaughlin. “I was in control early in the race and I knew early in the race I had a car that could pass. We had one costly pit-stop that put me back to 16th. I was pissed off and dropped the hammer.”
McLaughlin however couldn’t get Dixon on the final restart.
“I probably played it a little safe,” said McLaughlin. “The opportunity was there a couple of times but we both would’ve ended up in the fence if I would’ve taken it. To go toe-to-toe with Scotty was phenomenal and a very cool thing for my racing career.”
Dixon knew he had to get a good restart because his car was battered and bruised.
“The car was bent and broken, but for us I think strategy-wise to take no tires on that last stop was probably the key,” said Dixon. “We were able to jump a couple and have enough fuel to get towards the end, and to the end, but it was very difficult to drive. The car just had no grip. Each time we had a restart, I was just praying for another accident. Some of those came. Some of them didn’t. Another lap with McLaughlin would have been extremely tough to hold him off. He was just super fast, and I think just in a better situation.”
Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Palou, the defending Series Champion, finished third after leading the second portion of the race.
“I think Nashville is kind of like the Indy 500 where there are so many things happening, and you just need to survive and have a good car and a car in one piece at the end,” said Palou.
The win leaves Dixon six-points behind leader Will Power in the Championship standings. Palou’s third place finish leaves him 33-points out of the lead with three races to go.
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES event is the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline on Saturday, Aug. 20 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Live coverage on the USA Network and the INDYCAR Radio Network of the last oval race of the season starts at 6 p.m. ET.
Pato O’Ward wins 2nd race of INDYCAR doubleheader after Newgarden crashes
NEWTON, IA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pato O’Ward won race two of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader at Iowa Speedway, beating Team Penske’s Will Power by 4.2476-seconds.
O’Ward was in the position after Penske’s Josef Newgarden crashed after leading 148 of the first 234-laps.
“I knew we had the pace to win one,” said O’Ward. “The problem was just trying to get up to Josef. One thing is getting up to him, and one thing is passing him. I’m glad he’s okay. We took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself. I just walked away with it. I knew we had the pace to do it.”
“Man, I want to cry,” said Newgarden. “So sad for my team. I don’t know what happened. It was a good run. I feel terrible for us. I don’t know; something went wrong there.”
Newgarden was treated and released at the infield care center but later collapsed in the Motorhome lot and hit his head. He was admitted overnight in Iowa for observation before being released the following day. Newgarden’s status for Saturday’s race on the road course at Indianapolis is pending INDYCAR Medical Team clearance.
Newgarden’s Penske teammates Will Power finished second followed by Scott McLaughlin in third.
“The car was really good,” said Power. “I probably could have been more aggressive in that second-to-last stint because it seemed like there’s a lot less deg. Must have cooled or the track took a lot of rubber or something. The track was really fast.”
“Midway through the race today, the car was a bit of a handful and I wasn’t too happy,” said McLaughlin. “Managed to get my head down, did some really good pit exchanges, managed to get ourselves into P4 there before the last caution. Then P3 on Dixon, which was a fun pass. I really enjoyed that. It was a really good exchange with him all race.”
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race is the Gallagher Grand Prix on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the INDYCAR/NASCAR Doubleheader weekend.
Newgarden wins first of INDYCAR Doubleheader at Iowa
(Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden picked up his fourth win of the season taking race one of the HyVee Doubleheader NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Iowa Speedway.
Newgarden beat Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward by 6.1784 seconds en route to his 24th career victory.
“I love this place,” said Newgarden. “I mean, not just because we’re good here. Obviously that makes it better, but it’s a really fun track to race at. You have two lanes to run on, sometimes three. That’s abnormal for us in a lot of ovals we go to. It’s the most exciting race we get to partake in in INDYCAR from an oval standpoint.”
“I thought we had a little bit more for Josef in the end,” said O’Ward. “He was really strong. I had to use my tires a bit much. I think Will was on the same train battling with me and Palou, Marcus. So, I think we used up our tires a little bit more than what Josef did. He had a little bit more to give in the end.”
Power, the race’s pole-sitter, finished third.
“Last restart is what hurt me the most, trying to keep guys behind,” said Power. “Had a couple of big yaw moments on the rear tire early. Pounded on that rear too much to stay ahead. Then went loose, really loose. I had some big saves. I was happy to end up third actually.”
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay finished fourth in the No. 21 Bitcoin Racing Team with BitNile Chevrolet, his second top-four finish in his last three starts. Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon followed his victory last Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto by finishing fifth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“It was a tough day,” said Dixon. “Our car was really good on the long run. We’ve got a lot of work to do tonight to get our cars better.”
Race 2 of the Doubleheader is Sunday at 3:30 p.m.