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Scott Dixon Escapes Mid-Ohio With INDYCAR Points Lead Despite Struggles

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Matt Fraver

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.

Three Rivers Karting

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.”

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.

IndyCar

INDYCAR Drivers Frustrated With Racing At Iowa Speedway

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Penske Entertainment: James Black

NEWTON, IA (July 14, 2024) – NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers feel something needs to be done to make the Hy-Vee Doubleheader weekend at Iowa Speedway as exciting on-track as it has been historically.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about the race and how it raced,” said Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren Racing, who finished second Friday night. “Really tough to get that second lane working, compared to I don’t know how many on-track passes we had last year, probably not even a 10th of that. That was a bit frustrating because I thought we had a very strong car, definitely a car that was capable of winning. Just no way to get around a car.”

In 2023 for race one there were 1,502 total passes, of which 319 were for position.  Conversely in race one of 2024 there were 192-total passes Saturday night, 100 of those were for position.

“Unfortunately I don’t think our car and our formula works super well for this type of track adjustment,” said Saturday night’s third place finisher Josef Newgarden about the partial track repave. “We’re different than a Cup car. We’ve developed our car differently than they have. It doesn’t always mesh. It definitely didn’t mesh tonight.”

Three Rivers Karting

“Bit of a shame that couldn’t really do anything to pass or to do anything,” said Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished second on Sunday. “It’s the most boring thing I’ve ever done. It was yesterday, as well. It’s a shame that we couldn’t really put on a better show. I think everybody will agree that it was a very boring race to drive.”

INDYCAR reduced downforce levels by about 450-pounds heading into the race weekend and tire supplier Firestone came with new right side tires after heat-related issues during a recent test session at the track.  The combination led to a parade-like race on Saturday and Sunday.

“I feel like we go into it and not do the right amount of study or whatnot to get it done and to get it to work,” said Saturday night’s winner Scott McLaughlin, who finished third on Sunday. “That’s not a shot at the sport, not a shot at anything. It’s working together with the amazing people and the geniuses we have up and down pit lane. It’s just a matter of making it work.”

“I think INDYCAR could go to work with downforce levels, working with Firestone on a few other things,” McLaughlin explained. “But you just can’t blame the track because at the end of the day they have to repave this at some time.”

“We went from the best oval race we would have all season to potentially the least amount of passing,” said Sunday’s winner Will Power.  “Maybe just a softer tire might just work with this downforce level. Just a softer tire. If it degrades, people go out. You can roll to the outside.  I don’t know what the answer is, but we certainly got to do something for next year.”

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IndyCar

Will Power Wins 2nd Race Of INDYCAR Doubleheader Weekend At Iowa

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

NEWTON, IA (July 14, 2024) Will Power is back in victory lane on an oval after winning Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade.  Power’s last oval win was nearly five years ago at Pocono Raceway.

“I didn’t really think I’d win today,” said Power.  “You know how life goes, it just happens like that. Yeah, been trying to win this one for a long time. Stoked to tick that box. I’ve won a lot of races at a lot of tracks. When you tick a box at a track you haven’t won on, it feels pretty good.”

Team Penske elected to leave Power’s No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, which started 22nd, out on the track during the first green-flag stint and it paid off because the caution flag came out for Augustin Canapino’s stalled car, allowing Power and Championship leader Alex Palou cycle to the front of the field.

“My plan from the beginning was to sit back and save a lot of fuel, just get the best possible number using the speed, lifting,” explained Power. “In that gap, prayed for a yellow because I knew there would be out-laps. That would be when people would be prone to mistakes. That’s exactly what happened.”

Power restarted the race in the 2nd position and followed Palou until the next round of pit stops.  Power’s team did not disappoint, beating Palou’s time by nine-tenths of a second, putting the two-time series Champion out front for the final 50-laps.

“I know if I hit my marks, it’s going to be an extremely fast stop,” said Power.

Three Rivers Karting

Palou rebounded from Saturday night’s crash to finish second and retain the Championship points lead, 35-over Power, who sits second.

“It’s been a weekend where we had a ton of speed compared to what we had before with qualifying third and second,” said Palou. “Was a shame yesterday obviously with the pit stall on the first pit, then the crash during the second stint.  Yeah, happy that today we’re in second.”

Saturday night’s winner Scott McLaughlin finished third after starting on the pole and getting caught by the caution flag that benefitted Power and Palou.

“I was on the undercut,” explained McLaughlin. “At the end of the day, I mean, I would have come out in front of Alex. Will would have had to pit in a couple laps’ time. That’s just how it rolls, man. I’ve won a race by a delayed yellow. I’ve lost a race now. It’s just part of the deal. I think everyone will have one or two of those in their career.”

Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon finished fourth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing while Colton Herta fifth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Andretti Global w/Curb-Agajanian.

The series next race is on the Street of Toronto for the Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto.  Practice begins Friday at 3 p.m. ET at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Iowa Race 2 Results

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IndyCar

Scott McLaughlin Wins 1st Race Of INDYCAR Iowa Doubleheader Weekend

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Penske Entertainment: Travis Hinkle

NEWTON, IA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin is now a winner on an oval after grabbing the victory in Saturday night’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart.

McLaughlin started alongside pole-sitter Colton Herta of Andretti Global and grabbed the lead beating everyone out of the pits after a caution flag on Lap 80 when Graham Rahal’s No. 15 One Cure Honda suffered a cracked wheel.

McLaughlin led the final 164-laps and held off Arrow McLaren’s Patricio O’Ward, who finished second and Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden who finished third.

“At the end of the day I did the job in some ways from my perspective, but it was a team win,” said McLaughlin. “They put me out in front and got me the lead. I was able to show how good our car was just controlling the pace at the front.”

Great pit work from O’Ward’s number 5 crew got him out the pits in second place late in the race giving him a chance to challenge McLaughlin for the win.

“Yeah, awesome job by the guys in the pits,” said O’Ward. “That’s truly what got us in this position to fight for the podium.”

O’Ward was frustrated that the race track ended up being aa one groove track after a recent repave and despite INDYCAR dedicating a practice session to trying to rubber-in the second groove.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about the race and how it raced. Really tough to get that second lane working,” explained O’Ward, who keeps moving up in the Championship fight. “Compared to I don’t know how many on-track passes we had last year, probably not even a 10th of that. That was a bit frustrating because I thought we had a very strong car, definitely a car that was capable of winning. Just no way to get around a car.”

Three Rivers Karting

For the record, there were 192-total passes Saturday night, 100 of those were for position.  Comparatively there were 1,502 total passes in race one at Iowa in 2023, 319 for position.

A driver who didn’t have a problem making any passes was Newgarden, who started 22nd after a lackluster qualifying effort.  Newgarden grabbed eight spots at the drop of the green flag by using the high line and making passes in the pits.

“It was a great recovery by the team,” said Newgarden. “My goodness, they were really good in the pits, like really, really good. If Pato’s guys were good, mine must have been double as good. I made up probably 80% of my position in the pits tonight.”

Championship leader Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing had trouble in the pits for the second straight week.  Palou stalled the No. 10 DHL Honda on the first pit stop, dropping from third place to 19th place.

Palou quickly regained six places and threw it all away on Lap 176 when he lost control on the frontstretch and backed it into the outside wall.  The miscue relegated Palou to a 23rd place finish, his worst in two-plus years, a span of 36 races, when he finished 27th in the 2022 race at Road America.

Palou’s finish cost him 11-points in the title fight.  Palou now leads O’Ward by 37-points with Team Penske’s Will Power sitting third, 43-points out of the leads.  Six-time Series Champion Scott Dixon remained in fourth, 46-points back.  The victory vaulted McLaughlin to fifth, 59-points out of first.

Race 2 of the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade takes place tomorrow at noon ET, live on NBC, Peacock and INDYCAR Radio Network.  McLaughlin will start on the pole after setting a new track record in qualifying.

Iowa Race One Results

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