Newgarden scores first career IndyCar pole in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE – Josef Newgarden and the CFH Racing team carried their practice pace into qualifying en route to the Verizon P1 Award for the 12th round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

It’s Newgarden’s first pole position of his career, and also the first for the CFH team since both Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing merged – incidentally, a move reported at this race last year by NBCSN reporter Robin Miller.

Newgarden’s two-lap average of 170.223 mph in the No. 67 Direct Supply CFH Racing Chevrolet topped the field, and was one of two drivers in the 170 range.

Newgarden’s pole is also the first from outside Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske since Mid-Ohio 2014, when Sebastien Bourdais took the top spot. Power’s pole at Milwaukee last year kicked off a string of 14 races in a row where a Penske or Ganassi driver took the top spot.

Ryan Briscoe, a past race winner and polesitter in Milwaukee, qualified second in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda at 170.086 mph.

Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Sage Karam and Tony Kanaan were third and fourth, with Briscoe’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate James Jakes completing an abnormal top five on the grid.

Auto Club Speedway race winner Graham Rahal qualified sixth, ahead of Charlie Kimball, points leader Juan Pablo Montoya, Marco Andretti and Scott Dixon.

It was a tough qualifying session for Penske’s four cars; Montoya was eighth while Will Power was 14th, Simon Pagenaud 17th and Helio Castroneves 24th and last after missing his spot in the qualifying queue. The Brazilian will start from the rear of the field at a traditional bogey track.

Here is the provisional starting grid:

1 67 Josef Newgarden, 170.223
2 5 Ryan Briscoe, 170.086
3 8 Sage Karam (R), 169.639
4 10 Tony Kanaan, 169.542
5 7 James Jakes, 169.317
6 15 Graham Rahal, 169.126
7 83 Charlie Kimball, 169.122
8 2 Juan Pablo Montoya, 169.108
9 27 Marco Andretti, 168.994
10 9 Scott Dixon, 168.650
11 11 Sebastien Bourdais, 168.462
12 98 Gabby Chaves (R), 168.364
13 14 Takuma Sato, 168.288
14 1 Will Power, 167.978
15 25 Justin Wilson, 167.863
16 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, 167.690
17 22 Simon Pagenaud, 167.422
18 26 Carlos Munoz, 166.545
19 4 Stefano Coletti (R), 166.410
20 19 Tristan Vautier, 165.786
21 41 Jack Hawksworth, 164.827
22 20 Ed Carpenter, 164.005
23 18 Pippa Mann, 159.214
24 3 Helio Castroneves, No Speed

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.”