Fast Facts: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

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Courtesy of INDYCAR PR, here’s all you need to know ahead of this weekend’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the ninth of 16 races on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule:

KOHLER Grand Prix Fast Facts

Track: Road America, a 4.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road course (clockwise)

Race distance: 50 laps / 202.4 miles

Entry List: KOHLER Grand Prix (PDF)

Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 20 seconds each

Firestone tire allotment: Eight sets primary, three sets alternate (Weekend)

Twitter: @RoadAmerica @IndyCar, #KOHLERGP, #IndyCar

Event website: www.roadamerica.com 

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com 

2007 (most recent) race winner: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 1 McDonald’s Racing Team-Newman/Haas Racing)

2007 (most recent) pole winner: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 1 McDonald’s Racing Team-Newman/Haas Racing), 1:41.535, 143.525 mph

Qualifying record: Dario Franchitti, 1:39.866, 145.924 mph, Aug. 19, 2000

NBCSN television broadcasts: Practice, noon ET Friday, June 24 (live); Qualifying, 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday, June 25 (tape delayed); Race, 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, June 26 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers with Dave Furst and Rob Howden reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IIndyCar.com, indycarradio.comand on the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video streaming: All practice sessions for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season not covered by television will be available on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Live coverage of qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award will be streamed on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

INDYCAR Mobile app: Verizon Wireless puts fans around the world in the driver’s seat with its INDYCAR Mobile app. The app has been enhanced with new features to keep fans in the know of the latest race-day action. Exclusive features of the INDYCAR Mobile app for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and includes enhanced real-time leaderboard and car telemetry; the ability to follow the race in real time with the interactive 3D track; live in-car camera video streaming for select drivers during Verizon IndyCar Series races; live driver and pit crew radio transmissions during races and live Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network audio streaming during all track activities.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, June 24
11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, NBCSN (Live)
3 – 4:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

Saturday, June 25
11 – 11:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
3 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (5:30 p.m. ET, same-day delay)

Sunday, June 26
8 – 8:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warmup, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
11:32 a.m. – Driver Introductions
12:07 p.m. – Command to Start Engines
12:15 p.m. – KOHLER Grand Prix (50 laps/202.4 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Race notes:

  • There have been six different winners in the eight previous Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2016: Juan Pablo Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Phoenix International Raceway), Simon Pagenaud (Streets of Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park and Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Alexander Rossi (Indianapolis 500), Sebastien Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle-1) and Will Power (Raceway at Belle Isle-2). Dixon’s win at Phoenix on April 2 tied him for fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with Al Unser at 39. He is the active leader in wins. Bourdais’ win at Belle Isle on June 4 tied him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time list with 35 wins.

    • The KOHLER Grand Prix will be the first Indy car event conducted at Road America since 2007 and the 26th Indy car race at the track since it hosted its first Indy car event in 1982.

    • The KOHLER Grand Prix will be the seventh race on a road/street course in 2016. The first six races were won by Montoya (St. Petersburg), Pagenaud (Long Beach, Barber and Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Bourdais (Belle Isle 1) and Power (Belle Isle 2).  Nine drivers entered this weekend have previously raced Indy cars at Road America: Bourdais, Helio Castroneves, Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Montoya, Pagenaud, Power and Graham Rahal. Three of those drivers have led laps at the track (Bourdais 92, Montoya 52 and Castroneves 24).

    • Bourdais is the only driver in the field that has won an Indy car race at Road America, winning the final Champ Car race at the track in 2007. Bourdais has finished on the podium in all four of his previous starts at Road America. Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi have the most wins by an Indy car driver at the track (3).

    • Six drivers have won the Road America race from the pole: Mario Andretti (1983, 1984 and 1987), Danny Sullivan (1989), Paul Tracy (1993), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Bruno Junqueira (2003) and Bourdais (2007).

    • Drivers who have won at Road America have gone on to win the Indy car championship six times: Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991), Villeneuve (1995), Alex Zanardi (1997), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Bourdais (2007).

    • Team Penske has won three times at Road America (1989, 1992 and 1993) and is one of two current teams to win at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing has won twice at Road America (1997 and 2001). Newman/Haas Racing won a record 10 times at Road America.

    • Four rookies – Max Chilton, Conor Daly, Spencer Pigot and Rossi – are entered. Rossi leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 65 points over Daly with Chilton 103 points behind.

    • Kanaan seeks to start his 258th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 199 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.

    • Castroneves will attempt to make his 320th career Indy car start, which would tie him with Al Unser for fourth on the all-time list.

    • The 2016 season is the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams – one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals – but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.

    • The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion.

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.”