INDYCAR Photo by James Black
INDYCAR Photo by James Black

Dixon overcomes first-lap spin to finish top-five at Road America

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ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – All Alexander Rossi needed to win Sunday’s REV Group Grand Prix at Road America was one pass in Turn 2 on the first lap of the race. He went on to defeat Will Power by 28.4391 seconds to win Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series contest.

Scott Dixon’s task, however, was much more difficult.

He started 12thbut was tagged in the rear by Ryan Hunter-Reay in Turn 5, sending Dixon’s Honda in a spin and dropping him 10 seconds behind the field with 55 laps to go.

Undaunted, the five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion fought through the “Red Mist” of anger and adrenalin to race his way through the field and put on the real show of the race.

With Rossi checked out of the field and gone, leaving the remainder of his competitors in the Wisconsin woods, Dixon made up the gap, one car at a time. He would make 18 passes in a race that featured 191 passes throughout the field including 175 for position.

At the checkered flag, Dixon fended off a charge James Hinchcliffe to finish fifth – quite a recovery from spinning out and restarting in 23rd.

“It was frustrating, especially when you get turned around and we were almost 10 seconds behind the field at that point and had to catch up,” Dixon told a group of reporters, including NBC Sports.com, on pit lane after the race. “It’s racing, man. We had our problem in qualifying and puts in you in the middle of the pack. We got tapped from behind and it spun us around.

“We tried to make the best of the day, to be honest. Fifth place was pretty good. Luckily, we were at a track where you could use strategy and pass if you have a fast car.”

The 4.014-mile, 14-turn Road America permanent road course allows for fantastic racing throughout the field, although there was no competition at the front as Rossi led 54 of the 55 laps in the race. The only lap he did not lead came when Graham Rahal was credited with leading a lap after Rossi made one of his three pit stops.

Dixon’s latest adversity has put him in jeopardy of contending for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship. Dixon is fourth in the standings, but is 94 points behind the leader, Josef Newgarden with seven races remaining.

“We are at a point in the season where we definitely need to make a run,” Dixon said. “When the two leaders are taking all the points, it makes it hard to close that gap. It’s frustrating when you look at the last three races. Detroit was my fault and getting caught up with Colton Herta at Texas and then today.

“It could have been a lot more points we would be sitting on right now. We’ll keep our head down.”

When Dixon spun out, his car was left facing the wrong way, that is what cost him the extra time to get the cars spun in the right direction.

Dixon credits the “Red Mist” with the extra adrenaline he needed to race through the field.

“That sometimes helps, to be honest,” Dixon said. “You don’t think about anything else apart from trying to make up ground. The only positive side is it was Lap 1 and if it had been later in the race, it would have been much harder to recover from.

“That’s just the way it is, man. I got hit from behind. It was a center punch up the rear.”

To score a top-five finish was remarkable for Dixon, and he had to survive one more bit of contact at the end of the race involving James Hinchcliffe.

“He braked a little bit earlier than I thought he was going to,” Dixon said. “I thought he was going to go by Colton. I held my ground on the outside and tried not to get pushed off.

“It was just good, hard racing.

“We really have nothing to lose right now. We are 94 points back. It’s kind of a fun way to race. There’s always enough time to catch up in the points, so let’s see what happens in seven more races.”

Karam, Daly get IndyCar rides with Carlin for Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – Sage Karam returns for the second-straight race and Conor Daly is back for another race with Carlin Racing at this weekend’s Iowa 300 NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

For Karam, it’s his third start of the 2019 season and his second straight with Carlin. In his five starts at Iowa Speedway dating back to 2010, Karam has never finished outside of the top three, recording four wins (USF2000 – 2010, Indy Pro 2000 – 2011 and 2012, Indy Lights – 2013) and scoring his first NTT IndyCar Series podium in 2015 with a third-place finish.

“I’m really excited to be back again this weekend with Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for the Iowa 300. Iowa Speedway has always been a good track for me in the past, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to work there,” Karam said. “Coming off of a very productive weekend in Toronto, I’m looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned and continuing to work with the team to get the best results possible. A huge thank you to everyone at Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for a great opportunity to race at one of my favorite tracks.”

Daly is back in a second Carlin entry. Earlier this year, the popular driver finished 11th for Carlin in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. At Iowa, he will drive the team’s No. 23 Gallagher Chevrolet.

Daly finished 10th in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for Andretti Autosport.

Daly raced at Iowa in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing (finishing 21st) and in 2017 for A.J. Foyt Racing (finishing 19th).

The combination gives Carlin two more drivers to gather additional feedback on the car. Max Chilton remains the team’s primary driver but announced recently that he will forego all oval races to concentrate on street and road courses.

That created opportunities for Karam and Daly.

“We were very impressed with Sage’s steady progression throughout the Toronto race weekend and his willingness to learn and adapt,” said Carlin Team Principal Trevor Carlin. “The fact that he hadn’t been on a street course since 2015 and was still able to come right out of the gate confident and constantly improving every session was extremely impressive.

“The SmartStop Self Storage Chevrolet looked great out on track and their group has been a pleasure to work with, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have them back this weekend in Iowa. Sage has done really well in Iowa in the past, so hopefully we can use his experience and our past success at Iowa Speedway to come away with a good result for the team and our partners at SmartStop Self Storage.”

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway will take place on Saturday, July 20th at 7:15 pm ET and will be televised on NBCSN.