Newgarden leads home CFH Racing one-two in Toronto

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Josef Newgarden clinched his second win of both his Verizon IndyCar Series career and the 2015 season in Toronto on Sunday following some fine strategic work from the CFH Racing team in the early stages of the race.

The young American found himself running as low as 11th in the early stages of the race, but was brought in for his first tire change just moments before a full course caution that shut the pit lane and prevented any of the front-running drivers to make their first scheduled stop.

Once it had re-opened and early leaders Will Power and Simon Pagenaud pitted, Newgarden found himself running up in second place behind Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who had opted not to pit under the full course caution called when James Jakes hit the wall and stalled his car.

Castroneves tried to open up a lead, but a second full course caution prompted by Stefano Coletti hitting Charlie Kimball and then the wall cost the Brazilian his lead and saw him fall back through the order.

Newgarden managed to retain his lead leading up to the second round of pit stops, only for Castroneves and CFH Racing teammate Luca Filippi to go longer before stopping, allowing them to latch onto the back of the American driver upon exiting the pits.

Dale Coyne Racing had opted to keep Rodolfo Gonzalez out for a long stint at the front of the field, bunching Newgarden, Filippi and Castroneves up in the battle for second. By the time the Venezuelan pitted, Will Power had also joined the train of four fighting for the lead of the race with 13 laps to go.

Newgarden used his new-found freedom to slowly eke out a gap to Filippi at the front of the field, leaving the Italian to contend with Castroneves, who was particularly pacey on the red-ringed Firestone tires. However, the race leader did not have a push-to-pass boost remaining unlike his rivals, making the CFH Racing team wary of a possible challenge from behind.

Such fear proved to be unfounded, though, as Newgarden managed to maintain his advantage to the checkered flag and win the Honda Toronto Indy race, leading home a CFH Racing one-two as Filippi crossed the line in second place.

“Just an amazing team effort,” Newgarden told NBCSN in victory lane. “I can’t believe that we did one two even. It got a little close with Luca. We were really just trying to keep up.

“I got a little bit of lapped traffic. Close racing, but for sure I got a little lucky too. I got lucky on that yellow. It was a great call though – it was a great effort by this crew. They gave me amazing pit stops and the car to win. Luca is such a star too, it’s amazing he can get a second place. Super happy for the whole group.”

Castroneves was unable to keep up with the leading duo in the final few laps of the race, forcing the Brazilian to settle for third place at the checkered flag ahead of Will Power.

However, by finishing fourth, the defending champion managed to cut into the lead of Juan Pablo Montoya at the top of the standings to just 27 points after the Colombian finished down in seventh place.

Sebastien Bourdais’ early pace did not sustain into the final stint of the race, leaving him fifth at the flag ahead of Tony Kanaan. Scott Dixon finished behind Montoya in eighth, whilst Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten.

Honda Indy Toronto – Race Result

1. (11) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (6) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (7) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (5) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 85, Running
6. (9) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (4) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (10) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
10. (8) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
11. (2) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (19) Conor Daly, Honda, 85, Running
13. (18) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
14. (14) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 85, Running
15. (22) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 85, Running
16. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 85, Running
17. (21) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 85, Running
18. (23) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 85, Running
19. (16) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 84, Mechanical
20. (15) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 84, Running
21. (12) James Jakes, Honda, 84, Running
22. (13) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 69, Mechanical
23. (20) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 40, Contact

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.”