NEWTON, Iowa (July 17, 2020) – Simon Pagenaud charged from last to first to win Race 1 of the INDYCAR Iowa 250s Friday night, July 17 at Iowa Speedway.

Pagenaud held off Scott Dixon by .4954 of a second for his first win of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Pagenaud started last in the 23-car field after a fuel pressure problem prevented him from making a qualifying attempt earlier in the day.

It’s the first time a driver has won from the last starting spot on the grid since March 2017, when Sebastien Bourdais drove from the rear to the front of a 21-car field to win the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“This place is tough,” Pagenaud said after his 15th career win and his first at the 7/8th-mile oval. “What a night. What a day for us. First of all, amazing group effort from the whole Team Penske to recover from Road America. We unloaded really well. This morning was a lot of fun. Qualifying was disheartening, but these guys never give up. That’s what this team is all about.

“I can’t believe it. I have to rewatch the race. How did I get there? I don’t know. But the last 50 laps were certainly a lot of tension. When (Scott) Dixon is chasing you, you better hit your marks.”

Pagenaud’s win for Team Penske ended Chip Ganassi Racing’s dominant start to the season in which Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda won the first four NTT INDYCAR SERIES races. Five-time series champion Dixon opened with three straight wins in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with Rosenqvist earning his first career victory last Sunday at Road America.

Rookie Oliver Askew rounded out the Iowa podium Friday night with a third-place finish in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, marking the best-career NTT INDYCAR SERIES finish for the defending Indy Lights champion.

“I wish you could see my smile right now,” Askew said. “This Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet came alive once the track started to get cooler. We were really good on new tires and when they were very used. If that yellow didn’t come out on the restart there (on Lap 156), I think we would have had a really good shot at finishing at least 1-2 with Pato (O’Ward) and I. We’ll go get them tomorrow, but I’ll sleep really well tonight. Honestly, that’s probably one of the funnest races I’ve ever done in my life.”

Askew’s teammate Pato O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion who scored his career-best finish of second last Sunday at Road America, drove his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish. Defending series champion Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

2016 series champion Pagenaud wasted no time making his march through the field. Within the first 10 laps, Pagenaud already had made his way into the top 15. The long green flag runs throughout the 250-lap race opened the field for strategy that helped Pagenaud and other drivers gain ground from the rear.

A caution period on Lap 144 allowed leader Pagenaud to pit for the final time and get fresh tires for the run to the finish. He retook the lead from O’Ward on Lap 178 with his fresher Firestone tires.

As the end of the race neared, Pagenaud’s rear-view mirror was filled with Dixon’s orange-and-blue Honda. But the Frenchman held off the late charge from the Kiwi and led a race-high 83 laps on the night, including the final 72. He averaged 132.220 mph.

Askew, who was charging hard on the freshest tires among the leaders, finished 7.2128 seconds back.

Series points leader Dixon also drove through the field from a low starting spot after qualifying 17th.

Image  —  Posted: July 16, 2020 in Uncategorized

Image  —  Posted: July 14, 2020 in Uncategorized

Felix Rosenqvist wins the REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 at Road America Sunday, July 12, 2020 — IndyCar Image by Chris Owens

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Felix Rosenqvist outdueled Pato O’Ward in a thrilling late-race battle to score his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory in the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader Race 2 on Sunday, July 12 at Road America.

Rosenqvist’s drive in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda ended the undefeated start to the 2020 season by his teammate, Scott Dixon. But the 28-year-old continued the dominating start for Chip Ganassi Racing, which has won all four NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season.

“It feels so good,” Rosenqvist said. “It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times. This race was for my 10 car crew, the NTT DATA crew. Also Honda. I’m really proud to be powered by NTT and Honda this year. It’s been really good. Every race just hasn’t had a lock, just hasn’t come together until now. Today we went all for it. Super pace, the car was fantastic. It’s four out of four for Ganassi, which is huge.”

2019 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Rosenqvist completed a stirring comeback to pass O’Ward on the second-to-last of the 55 laps of the race, pulling away to win by 2.8699 seconds at the checkered flag. His previous-best finish was second last year at Mid-Ohio and Portland.

O’Ward dominated the day in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, winning the NTT P1 Award for pole in qualifying this morning and leading 43 of the 55 laps. But as the end of the race neared, O’Ward’s used Firestone red tires, the alternate compound option, began to fall off and allowed Rosenqvist to close the gap quickly. Still, 2018 Indy Lights champion O’Ward, who is racing in his first full-time season, scored his best career finish in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

“I gave it everything, every little bit I had,” O’Ward said. “I was pushing, pushing, pushing, but I just couldn’t keep Felix behind me. I really want to thank Arrow McLaren SP, Team Chevy. The car was really, really good. We just missed that little extra in keeping the rear tires under us. But we’re here.

“We got some good points this weekend, and we’re looking forward to Iowa. We like running up front. I think we showed that we have everything to do it. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

Following Rosenqvist and O’Ward on the podium was Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda with his best finish of the season after a rough start to the year. Rossi’s previous best finish this season was 15th at the season opener June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Marcus Ericsson finished fourth for his third straight top-10 finish and his best result of the season in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Colton Herta rounded out the top five in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda. Herta is the only driver to score a top-10 finish in every race this season. The consistent start to the year leaves him second in the series standings, 54 points behind Dixon, whose three-race win streak ended with a 12th-place finish in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Rosenqvist proved to have one of the fastest cars all day long. He started seventh and found himself in the top five quickly. He spent most of the afternoon hunting down O’Ward, who jumped out to a lead as large as nine seconds at one point.

A problem during a pit stop hindered Rosenqvist’s drive to the front. The jack dropped while the left front tire was not secured. The crew had to jack the car again to fasten the tire, and Swedish native Rosenqvist lost all progress he had made on Mexican driver O’Ward.

Rosenqvist’s chase resumed after the pit road mishap with a 7.5-second gap to O’Ward. He closed the gap to around five seconds when he made his final pit stop on Lap 43, two laps later than O’Ward’s last stop. Rosenqvist exited pit road with a 5.4-second gap to O’Ward with 12 laps to go.

But Rosenqvist continued to chip away at O’Ward’s lead, helped by more durable Firestone black (primary) tires and a joust between O’Ward and the lapped No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet of Conor Daly over the final stint, which put O’Ward in turbulent air and cost him time.

Rosenqvist caught O’Ward on Lap 54 and made a thrilling pass for the lead exiting Turn 5.

Rosenqvist looked to the outside of O’Ward but then backed out and went low, pulling a crossover move on O’Ward. The two raced side-by-side toward Turn 6 just inches apart from each other. With the momentum, Rosenqvist cleared O’Ward in the next corner and sailed to the checkered flag for his first career victory in North America’s top level of open-wheel racing.

“It was a lot of hard-earned seconds there that we lost in the pit a couple of times,” Rosenqvist said. “But we had so much pace. We kept closing in half a second every lap. And then when they said Pato was on the used reds, you obviously get a lot of faith that he might drop off in the end, and that’s what happened.

“Just stay cool, and then we went for it, really. Used all my push-to-pass on one lap and got him. So, it was a really good fight with him there. Got a little squirrelly coming out of Turn 5 there, but good show and good fun.”

The scintillating finish between Rosenqvist and O’Ward capped a race that was eventful and exciting from the start. In Turn 1 on the first lap, multiple veteran drivers saw trouble and had their days ended.

Heading into the first corner, Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay and the No. 28 DHL Honda. The contact sent Hunter-Reay spinning into the corner, ending the 2012 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion’s day and resulting in a 22nd-place finish.

The contact had a ripple effect as Santino Ferrucci, driving the No. 18 SealMaster Honda, made contact with Jack Harvey in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXMHonda. Ferrucci was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact but rebounded to finish sixth. Harvey finished 17th.

Then, in Turn 3 just as the caution flag flew, Power made contact with Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda. Rahal attempted to correct the car, but instead he went spinning into the grass and made heavy contact with the wall. He was checked and released from the infield care center and finished 23rd. Power also was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact.

The race was restarted on Lap 3, but it went back under yellow flag conditions at the end of the lap with more trouble from Power. The 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion went off course in Turn 13 and spun into the grass. Power rebounded to finish 11th after bringing out the final full-course caution flag of the race.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be back in action this Friday, July 17 at Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader weekend at the .875-mile tri-oval. The first race begins at 8:30 p.m. (ET, NBCSN) Friday, with Race 2 of the Iowa INDYCAR 250s scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (ET, NBCSN) Saturday.

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – If Race 1 of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader was any indication, it’s going to take more than an action-packed race and a series of late-race cautions to beat Scott Dixon in 2020.

Five-time series champion Dixon continued his undefeated start to the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda by winning the REV Group Grand Prix Race 1 on Saturday, July 11 at Road America.

Dixon’s win Saturday follows victories June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway and July 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With the win, Dixon became the first driver to win three-straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES races since Simon Pagenaud completed the feat in 2016 by winning the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the GMR Grand Prix.

“I don’t know how that happened, man,” Dixon said. “We came out of the pits (on Lap 28), and they said, ‘You and Power are first and second.’ I was like: ‘How? How?’ I know we had huge out laps and a big in lap, as well. Definitely proud to be powered by Honda here.

“The car is difficult to drive. Huge thanks to everyone on the PNC crew. We dialed it in a bit during the race but still really tricky on the rears. Hard to keep them under you. But it looked like a lot of other people were struggling, as well. That was awesome, man.”

2014 series champion Will Power finished second in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, 2.5386 seconds behind Dixon. Rookie Alex Palou rounded out the podium with the best finish of his young career in the No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda. 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fourth in the No. 28 DHL Honda, and Colton Herta rounded out the top-five in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda.

The win was Dixon’s 49th career INDYCAR victory, inching him closer to Mario Andretti, who sits second on the all-time series wins list with 52 victories.

Dixon’s win at Road America broke the streak of nine different winners in the last nine races at the 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course. Dixon won this race in 2017.

However, this win didn’t feature the dominant Dixon performance that the Chip Ganassi Racing team displayed in the first two races of the season. Dixon qualified ninth, his lowest starting spot of 2020.

A thrilling first lap that featured three- and four-wide racing and bold passes by Hunter-Reay, Rinus VeeKay in the No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet and Santino Ferrucci in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda set the tone for an action-packed day in Elkhart Lake.

Shortly thereafter, the track proved to be a tall challenge even for the most seasoned drivers, as all three previous winners at Road America entered in the field had trouble on the track and on pit lane.

Defending race winner Alexander Rossi continued his string of bad luck this season and was the first veteran to have issues near the beginning of the race. He went off course and hit signage placed in the grass along the track. Rossi had to pit to remove signage from his front wing but continued.

Then, on Lap 51, contact with Max Chilton’s No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet forced Rossi off track with more issues and resulted in a 19th-place finish in the No. 27 AutoNation/NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda.

Pit lane proved to be a tough place, too, especially for the Team Penske teammates of Josef Newgarden and Power.

On Lap 28, NTT P1 Award winner Newgarden stalled on pit road, and his crew had trouble restarting the engine. The incident dropped Newgarden from the lead to 12th position when the green flag pit stops cycled through. Newgarden, who 25 of the first 27 laps from pole, settled for a 14th-place finish in his No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet.

Newgarden’s pit lane incident allowed Power to inherit the lead under green after pit stops cycled through, with Dixon close behind. But a Lap 40 pit stop under caution proved troublesome for Power when the crew had trouble dropping the jack. The issue gave Dixon the lead for good exiting the pits and helped cement his victory.

“I don’t know what happened on the pit stop there,” Power said. “I think we had Dixon covered. He was pretty good, but I don’t think he would have got by us.”

The pit stop that gave Dixon the lead came under the first full-course yellow this racetrack has seen in three years when the 2017 edition of the race had two cautions and featured Dixon as the winner.

The caution flag flew for the first time on Lap 38 when Jack Harvey found himself stuck in the gravel pit, ending what was shaping up to be a solid day for the driver of the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda.

And as the saying goes, cautions breeds cautions.

On the restart on Lap 42, contact between Pato O’Ward’s No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and Conor Daly’s No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet in Turn 5 brought out the second caution. The two entered the corner side-by-side, and contact sent Daly hard into the tire barriers, ending his day and resulting in a 21st-place finish. O’Ward continued and finished eighth.

Then, the caution flag flew once again on the Lap 45 restart. Dalton Kellett had issues in Turn 14 coming to the green flag and found himself stuck in the sand trap in his No. 14 K-Line USA/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

The race restarted with eight laps to go, and Dixon pulled away from Power cruised home to victory. He averaged 116.027 mph in the 55-lap race that featured five lead changes and five different leaders.

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. Qualifying starts at 9 a.m. (ET, INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold).

Image  —  Posted: July 11, 2020 in Uncategorized

IndyCar is Back …

Posted: July 10, 2020 in Uncategorized