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IndyCar doubleheader at Road America: Dixon and Rosenqvist take one each

IndyCar doubleheader at Road America: Dixon and Rosenqvist take one each

PHOTO DIXON RA 1Scott Dixon leads the REV Group Grand Prix Race 1 at Road America Saturday (Joe Skibinski/IndyCar)

NTT INDYCAR Series REV Group Grand Prix #1 at Road America
Dixon extends his winning streak to three out of three

Elkhart Lake, WI, July 13/20 (GRW): In a race which had looked like a runaway for Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon came through in the final laps to score his third win of the season, making him – with his three wins to date this season – the only driver to have won a race so far. Dixon had won the first two races, at Texas and at Indianapolis earlier.

Newgarden had won the pole in qualifying earlier in the day and he jumped into the lead at the start. Graham Rahal, who had qualified fourth quickest, passed Ryan Hunter-Reay to take over second place. His chances turned sour when he pitted on lap 14 and there was a fault in the refueling system which dropped out of the top ten by the time he got going again.

When Newgarden came in for his second scheduled pit stop on lap 27, he had a ten-second lead over Santo Ferrucci and he looked unbeatable But, when he went to leave his pit stall, his engine stalled and it took some time before the car could be restated and for him to get going again. After this, Newgarden was never a factor again and he ended up in 14th place at the finish.

Now Marcus Ericsson and then Will Power took their turns leading the race until, during a round of green flag pit stops, Scott Dixon beat Power out of the pits to take over the lead – a lead he was never to relinquish in the remaining 40 laps of the race

The cars were bunched up by the race’s first caution after Jack Harvey went off course on lap 37. And they were still bunched up after the track went green again. Halfway around the course, Pato O’Ward made an ambitious move on Daly and he nerfed him off the track into a concrete barrier. Daly complained of a dislocated shoulder but his car was done for the any way.

After another short green-flag interval, Dalton Kellett went off coming onto the front straight bringing out the race’s third and final caution. Through all this Dixon continued to lead over Power and the Spanish rookie Alex Palou. In the final 16-lap segment of green-flag running, Power and Palou kept the pressure on Dixon but they were not quite able to catch him. At the checker, Power was 2.5 seconds behind and Palou another 0.7 second back of Power.

“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 (Ganassi) 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.”

This early season domination by Dixon saw him with a commanding lead in the championship points standings with 155 points to Simon Pagenaud’s 93 points.

• Click HERE for the results of the REV Group Grand Prix No. 1 at Road America

PHOTO ROSENQVIST RA 2Felix Rosenqvist celebrates in victory lane with his team after winning the REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 at Road America Sunday (Joe Skibinski/IndyCar)

NTT INDYCAR Series REV Group Grand Prix #2 at Road America
Rosenqvist catches O’Ward to become the surprise race winner

Elkhart Lake, WI, July 12/20 (GRW): After seeing Dixon win his third race in a row the day before, we were ready for something different. This time, we saw a race in which the young Mexican driver Pato O’Ward led for 43 of the race’s 55 laps – only to be passed almost within sight of the checker by Felix Rosenqvist who held on to win the race.

The second half of this Road America doubleheader began at lunchtime on Sunday after a second separate qualifying session for this race. This qualifying effort saw a number of less-experienced drivers at the head of the field and this might have been part of the reason for the carnage that ensued when the green flag was dropped.

Actually, the front of the field – Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta and Alex Patou got away cleanly. The wrecking started back mid-field when Will Power was making a banzai start and started hitting other cars like a ‘wrecking ball’. First he side-swiped Ryan Hunter-Reay and knocked him off course, bouncing off Jack Harvey and Connor Daly – but, before he got to the first turn he went into the side of Graham Rahal knocking him off course where he collided heavily with the concrete barrier. Afterwards Power acted all innocent until he was shown the video as evidence for the reason the race officials sent him to the back of the field as a punishment.

When things got sorted out, the polesitter O’Ward was leading over Patou and Herta. O’Ward cycled back into the lead on lap 21 after the first round of regular green-flag pit stops. It was the same story on the second round of green-flag pit stops, which saw O’Ward back in the lead on lap30. Again O’Ward gave up the lead – to Rosenqvist again – when he made his final green-flag pit stop on lap 41 but he went back in front when Rosenqvist pitted a couple of laps later.

Now, this completed all the scheduled pit stops for the race – it was now a run to the finish with O’Ward running about five seconds ahead of Rosenqvist. But O’Ward had been given a set of scuffed ‘red’ tires while his challenger was on ‘blacks’. It was thought that these reds would give O’Ward superior grip for a number of laps but that, as the laps went on, they might lose grip more than the blacks. That was apparently the case, because, after a few laps, Rosenqvist started to close the gap.

He grew closer and closer to the Mexican and at the start of the white flag lap, he caught and passed him. O’Ward had no answer and he fell back over that final lap, finishing nearly three seconds behind Rosenqvist.

“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.”

Alexander Rossi, who had had miserable results in the previous three races, drove a steady race this day and he finished in third place ahead of Marcus Ericsson and Herta. Power had made a decent recovery from his penalty and he finished in 11th place while Dixon only managed to pull off a 12th-place finish.

After this race, Dixon was still leading in the championship points race with 173 points but now Herta was in second place with 119 points and O’Ward in third with 110 points. Not quite so much of a runaway for Dixon now.

• Click HERE for the results of the REV Group Grand Prix No. 2 at Road America

• The next IndyCar race will be run as pair of races next Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18 at the Iowa Speedway.

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