Scott Dixon won the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in exciting fashion Sunday afternoon, narrowly holding off teammate Felix Rosenqvist to take his sixth victory at the famed 13-Turn road course.
Dixon, who was on fading Firestone red tires, saw his margin over Rosenqvist begin to shrink as the laps wound down.
With no team orders in play, both drivers were allowed to fight it out for the victory.
Rosenqvist got around lapped traffic separating himself from Dixon on the final lap, and made an attempt to pass on the final corner, but Dixon narrowly held on by a margin of 0.0934 seconds – the third closest road course finish in series history – to take his second victory of the season.
“That was crazy,” Dixon told NBC Sports following the 46th race victory of his illustrious career. “I feel a little bad about Felix. We put some moves on him for sure there but we were just a sitting duck. I had nothing else I could do, because if I let one by, I was going to let a whole lot by.
“I think we were too aggressive on the second set of reds. We were way too loose on our used set as well, but they held in there. All that counts is that we got the win.”
Rosenqvist might have come up just car a length short of his maiden IndyCar victory, but his second-place finish was the best to date for the rookie Swede.
“I thought he [Dixon] gave me the room because he looked really slow on the reds and saving fuel,” Rosenqvist said. “He kinda veered in at the last moment. There was a little bit of a misunderstanding there, we touched a little bit.
“He raced hard and fair for the last couple of corners and [I] almost got it in there at the end, but that was fantastic. It was our first podium with Chip Ganassi Racing”
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished the race in the third position, while polesitter Will Power finished fourth and Alexander Rossi finished fifth.
Series points leader Josef Newgarden finished a disappointing 14th after crashing in Turn 2 on the last lap of the race. Newgarden was battling Hunter-Reay for the final podium spot but was unable to complete the pass, instead making contact with Hunter-Reay’s DHL Honda before spinning into the gravel pit.
As a result, the battle for the Astor Cup remains a four-car race with only four rounds remaining in the 2019 season.
Newgarden saw his lead over Rossi shrink down to 16 points, while Simon Pagenaud sits 47 points back and Dixon remains the last driver with a legitimate chance to contend for the title, 62 points behind Newgarden.
“I forced the issue, probably,” Newgarden said following the accident. “I was trying to get on the podium there and I got inside of him [Hunter-Reay] and started looping around and I lost power.
“It was my fault trying to force the issue there. I wish I could have maintained the engine, that was the big thing. I wish we could have done more at the end. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
The NTT IndyCar Series now heads to Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500 on August 18. Live flag-to-flag coverage begins at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
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.
“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].”
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.”
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.”