Fast Facts: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

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The third race weekend in a row for the Verizon IndyCar Series occurs this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. Here’s the weekend details, courtesy of the INDYCAR PR staff:

Track: Barber Motorsports Park, a 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course (clockwise)
Race distance: 90 laps / 207 miles
Entry List:  Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (PDF)
Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 20 seconds each
Firestone tire allotment: Five sets primary, three sets alternate
Twitter: @BarberMotorPark @IndyCar, #HIGPA, #IndyCar
Event website: www.barbermotorsports.com
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2014 race winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay
2014 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power, 1:08.3120, 121.209 mph
Qualifying lap record: Scott Dixon, 1:06.7750, 123.999 mph, April 2013

NBCSN race broadcast: Sunday, April 26 (3 p.m. ET)
NBCSN qualifying broadcast: Sunday, April 26, (2 a.m. ET, tape delay)

Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer for NBCSN’s broadcast of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Steve Matchett. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller are the pit reporters.

Radio broadcasts: Paul Page is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Qualifying and all Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 213, XM 209, IndyCar.comindycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR 15 app. Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR 15 app.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season and this weekend’s qualifying session will be available on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar) and RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

INDYCAR 15 App: The Verizon INDYCAR 15 app has been enhanced with new features to keep fans in the know of the latest race-day action. Exclusive features of the INDYCAR 15 app for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and include Interactive 3D Live View with real-time leaderboard and car telemetry to see where a fan’s favorite driver is positioned, leaderboard with enhanced 2D marching ants and car telemetry for 2015, in-car camera video streams from cameras that move 360 degrees and driver-pit crew chatter as drivers talk strategy with their pit crews during the race.

At-track schedule (all times local):
Saturday, April 25
9-10 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice
12:40-1:25 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice
3:55 p.m. – Three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series knockout qualifications (live-streamed on racecontrol.indycar.com; taped coverage, 2 a.m. (ET) Sunday, April 26, NBCSN)

Sunday, April 26
10-10:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warm-up
2 p.m. – NBCSN on air
2:37 p.m. – Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama green flag (NBCSN, Live).

Race notes:

* The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be the sixth Indy car event conducted at Barber Motorsports Park.

* Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay are the only drivers to have won at Barber Motorsports Park. Castroneves won the inaugural race in 2010, Power won the race in 2011 and 2012 and Hunter-Reay won in 2013 and 2014.

* Castroneves, Hunter-Reay and Power are the only drivers to have won the pole position at Barber Motorsports Park. Power claimed the pole position in 2010, 2011 and 2014; Castroneves won the pole in 2012 and Hunter-Reay in 2013.

* Two drivers have won the race from the pole – Power in 2010 and Hunter-Reay in 2013.

* Scott Dixon has finished on the podium in each of his five previous starts at Barber Motorsports Park – including four runner-up finishes – but he has yet to finish on the top step of the podium at the picturesque road circuit. Dixon won at Long Beach for the first time last week and took sole possession of fifth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 36.

* Nine drivers have competed in every Indy car race at Barber – Marco Andretti, Castroneves, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Power, Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato and Justin Wilson. All but Wilson are entered this year.

* At least six drivers will compete in their first Verizon IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park: Gabby Chaves, Stefano Coletti, Francesco Dracone, Luca Filippi, Rodolfo Gonzalez and Sage Karam.

* Team Penske has three wins at Barber Motorsports Park. Andretti Autosport is the only other team to win at the track, winning in 2013 and 2014 with Ryan Hunter-Reay.

* Kanaan seeks to start his 237th consecutive race, which would extend his Indy car-record streak that began in 2001 at Portland. His teammate Dixon has made 178 consecutive starts.

* The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season marked the competition debut of aerodynamic bodywork kits designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda. Cars are differentiated by their shape on the street course as the manufacturers have designed separate aero kit specifications for road and street course/short ovals and speedways for the Dallara IR-12 chassis. References to the cars will incorporate the name of the corresponding manufacturer.

* The No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet crew of Tony Kanaan won the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with a total pit lane time of 76.803 seconds. The NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing crew will receive its $10,000 award during pre-race festivities at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”