What IndyCar drivers said after Friday’s race at Iowa Speedway

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Recapping what NTT IndyCar Series drivers said after Friday’s 250-lap race at Iowa Speedway, where Simon Pagenaud scored his first victory this season and crept a little closer to runner-up Scott Dixon in the points standings:

First – Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “Wow. This place is tough. But what a night. What a day for us. First of all, amazing group effort from the whole Team Penske group to recover from Road America. We unloaded really well. This morning was really fun. Qualifying was disheartening, but these guys never give up. And that’s what this team is all about. It’s amazing. To get the Menards car to be shining here in Iowa is awesome. I’m really proud for John (Menard) and everyone at Menards and Chevy. Obviously, we had the horsepower and fuel consumption, but most importantly I can’t believe it. I have to rewatch the race. How did I get there? I don’t know, but the last 50 laps were certainly a lot of tension. When (Scott) Dixon is chasing you, you’ve got to hit your marks.

“It certainly wasn’t easy with lapped traffic, and I knew we had a really good car on long runs. That was really my chance. I was really keeping up with my tires and they behaved really well, the Firestone tires tonight. I was a little worried about the McLaren guys (Askew and O’Ward) because they pitted for new tires, and new tires had so much speed, so I was a little worried. In the end, just thanks everyone at Team Penske. And thank everyone who supports us. That was an amazing team effort. Thank you. If I have to do it again, this was certainly a cool win on an oval. Indy will always be the top, but this one was pretty cool, too.”

Second – Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “First of all, congratulations to Simon Pagenaud. That was an awesome race, and I’m sure he’s happy after the mess-up they had with qualifying. I’m proud to be powered by Honda and HPD. They did a tremendous job on fuel mileage. I think that’s what enabled us to really stay out and get that fuel mileage and jump a couple of cars. And those cautions really did help, especially because when you pit on such a small track, you fall down a couple laps. We had a pretty dreadful car in qualifying. We worked on it, but unfortunately with the way the race is this weekend you can’t change anything after qualifying, so it took us awhile to get us going. Huge credit to the PNC Bank crew. They did a hell of a job. Unfortunately, we’re starting at the back again tomorrow, so we’ll have another long night tomorrow in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda car.”

Third – Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I wish everyone could see my smile right now. This No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet just absolutely came alive when the track became cooler. We were good on new tires and when they were used. If that yellow didn’t come out there near the race end, I think we would have had a shot at least 1-2 there. We will go again tomorrow, and I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight. That’s probably one of the funnest races I’ve done in my life. Big hats off to everyone at Arrow McLaren SP. Awesome night.”

Fourth – Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “Arrow McLaren SP and Team Chevy gave Oliver (Askew) and I great cars tonight. We could really fight in a pack out there on track. It was a fantastic team result, but we are going to keep pushing. We have the pace for both of us to be on the podium tomorrow. So, I think we just have to execute, no mistakes, and I think we will be right there tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. Having a race under our belt at Iowa Speedway will be a huge help. Let’s go get it.”

Fifth – Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “The caution was certainly the nail in the coffin. Without sounding sound too overconfident, we had the car to beat tonight. Hands down. So it’s frustrating. I’ve got to be honest: I’m so angry about the way that this all transpired. Some of it is just bad luck. The yellow coming out when it came out, you can’t predict that stuff. You weigh the pros and cons when you’re trying to go long or trying to go short with your pit windows. I can’t fault my Hitachi guys. I think they did a great job. I had a rocket ship. We had a car above, and I’m sad we couldn’t put our car in Victory Lane because I feel that we had that potential. Like I said, I’m really proud of my guys. They always do a great job for me. We just chalk it up to bad luck tonight. We got to try and make up for it tomorrow. Look, all you can do is go forward. This is racing. Some days the racing gods shine down on you and some days they don’t. And today they definitely didn’t. But that’s how it works. You need to take the good days when you get them and accept the bad days when you have them. So, we’re going to try and regroup for tomorrow. We’ve got to stop giving these guys layups. That’s what keeps happening. But Chevy has done a great job for us. We had the package to beat tonight, in my opinion, and having Hitachi support us always means the world. We’re going to try again tomorrow and try and get them.”

Sixth – Alexander Rossi (No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I think through parts of the race, the Auto Nation Andretti Honda was one of the stronger cars out there. We just struggle with tire life in general around here. Fortunately, it was obviously the right strategy to win the race that we went on, we just didn’t have the car to do it. Just a bit unfortunate. Had that yellow not come out, and we could have just raced the race we were doing, we probably would have been a couple of spots higher. Ultimately we probably wouldn’t have won the race. It’s frustrating. There’s glimpses of the pace we need to be up front and control but ultimately we can’t string it together yet, so at least it wasn’t a repeat of the first three races. We have two decent finishes.

“I think we have a pretty good car despite starting P20 tomorrow, I’m not that worried. I think our car is pretty decent. It’s just we need to think about it in the hour practice tomorrow. We’ll try and do that. We’ll look and see what Simon did, because obviously it worked for him from the back, and we’ll go from there. I don’t know we necessarily have the answers, but we definitely need to improve a little bit because for the first 40 to 45 laps of the stint, we were one of the better cars. It’s just the second half of the stint. We can’t run Lane 2 anymore, and that’s really the key around here. We’ll see look at it. We’ll see if the teammates found anything. We have a lot of cars so we’ll go through that data and come back tomorrow.”

Seventh – Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “Today was a really solid day. Getting to drive this track in an Indy car is much different from the Indy Lights car, but the competition and intensity are still the same. As anticipated, the race was non-stop, and I definitely learned a ton that I can take with me into tomorrow. This type of finish is what we needed and finally we were able to get a result that was reflective of our pace. I’m hoping that we can improve for tomorrow.”

Eighth – Conor Daly (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was definitely a rollercoaster of a day for us. Obviously, we were so excited to win the pole for tonight’s race in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. That’s just such a major accomplishment for myself and this team. We’ve all been working so hard and the guys gave me a great car to qualify, so I was pretty excited that I was able to get that pole. We started the race tonight OK but just really struggled with keeping the rear underneath me and trying to figure it out as we went. It was just tough, and we just didn’t have the pace that we needed. The yellow really killed us. Some people just got so lucky with that, but unfortunately it didn’t fall our way. We chose to extend the last stint and make the tires last, but it was really tough driving absolutely to the limit on older tires and trying to hold people off there at the end. It was tough end to the day, but it was seriously awesome to get the first IndyCar pole for both Carlin and myself, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s race where we’ll start up front again in third.”

Ninth – Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We didn’t have a great start, but the car was good and we got into a rhythm. I think we were really strong in free air, but when you’re in traffic, it’s another story. We had P6 solidly and were competitive. The other guys had fresher rubber at the end, and we dropped to P9. I think we need to work on the car a bit more in traffic, and we’ll be competitive again tomorrow here at Iowa in the Huski Chocolate car.”

10th – Takuma Sato (No. 30 Panasonic/Mi-Jack Honda): “I was a tough race, but I think we improved a lot in the race although obviously were not able to change the car between qualifying and the race. We focused for the race (in practice), and I think that was right. At one stage we led the race, and we were competing in the top three, top five. But unfortunately on the last period of the yellows, we decided to divide the two stints, so we pitted. Most of the people who finished high today basically stayed out. We need to review the strategy. Nobody knew how it would play out until we finished. I think the boys did a great job, and I think we gained quite a lot of good experience today, so we should be better tomorrow.”

11th – Alex Palou (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda): “It was awesome. It’s my first short oval and the first oval race that I finish. I think the result wasn’t as good as we would have wanted it, but I’m super happy with the car and the race. I felt really comfortable, and I was getting more and more comfortable with every lap. It was tough because the strategy we did, we had to do a lot of laps on old tires, and those laps were really hard to do because everybody around me was running so quick and we just had to maintain our pace. But it worked out. It’s a shame that we were not in the top 10, but I think 11th place is good, and tomorrow we’re starting P7, so it should be a bit easier. I learned so much tonight, and I have a lot to process before the race tomorrow.”

12th – Graham Rahal (No. 15 One Cure Honda): “It was kind of an up-and-down night for us. I thought that the One Cure car had periods in the race where we were OK and were able to make up time. You look, we fell down a lap very early in the race, and we only finished two down, so obviously the pace was all right through the middle stints. But we put ourselves in a hole to begin but then we got around some guys a couple of times. It was hard to get by and kind of lost track there a little bit. But I thought our guys did a good job in the pits; I thought the strategy was fine. We had one set of tires that we struggled on, but other than that, we were just kind of trying to work our way to the front. Obviously, Simon did a great job. But when you start where we did and struggled like we did today, it is hard to win a race like this. Hopefully tomorrow is a little better.”

13th – Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “At the start of the race, there was some slight contact that cracked the front wing, so we lost a lot of aero balance, which made things really tough. We made some adjustments during the race but didn’t realize the extent of the damage until the car was back in the pits after the race. The SealMaster crew worked hard tonight, and we are looking forward to coming from 16th on the starting gird tomorrow to get back into the top 10 and score some good points.”

14th – Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think we had good pace, and the whole team did a great job preparing these cars for us. It seems like every race one of us, if not all three, are in the hunt or feel like we have pace to contend. Obviously it’s not the finishing position we wanted with the NTT DATA car, but the thing about doubleheader races is that you have the chance to immediately bounce back, and that’s our goal for tomorrow.”

15th – Ed Carpenter (No. 20 US Air Force Chevrolet): “This has always been one of my favorite tracks, but I don’t remember ever having as difficult of a night here. I was excited to run the U.S. Air Force colors and want to do a good job for them. I’m embarrassed about the performance tonight. The good thing is we have another chance tomorrow, so long as it’s not a repeat. It was pretty brutal. It’s hot in the cars, it’s uncomfortable and with a poor performance, I am pretty disappointed.”

16th – Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We had a good start, moved up a few spots around the outside. On the first stop, I just lit the rears up in first gear trying to get a good run out, but lost the rear and smacked the left front into the pit exit wall, continued on but lost some front wing downforce and some front wing pressure that we had to work at getting back all night. We had the pace at the end of the night; it was just too little too late. Hopefully we can capitalize on starting P4 tomorrow night in Race 2.”

17th – Charlie Kimball (No. 4 Tresiba AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I think it was a disappointing night for both A.J. Foyt Racing cars. The No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet was not what I wanted to feel underneath me, but I know the engineers will do really good work making it better tonight. I felt like everyone did a good job with what we had. Today was busy, practice, qualify and straight into the race – especially racing what you qualify. We had to compromise on gears, ride heights and setups and stuff, but it was the same for everyone and we just didn’t maximize it. But we’ll review it and be ready to go for another 250 laps tomorrow night.”

18th – Tony Kanaan (No. 14 Bryant/A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a shame. I think we had a consistent car but the tire deg for us was more than other people, so we need to figure out what’s causing it. It’s on the setup. We’re pretty decent halfway through the stint, and then the car will fall off really quick. And in one of those, I got loose, and not to spin I went wide, got in the marbles, brushed the wall a little bit, so that cost us 18 laps. But track position is really important, so we have that for tomorrow (starts eighth). I think we have overnight to think about it and another hour session tomorrow to try to make the tires last a little bit longer and then go from there. I truly believe we have a top-10 car for tomorrow.”

19th – Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda): “I’m not positive where things went wrong on that restart. (IndyCar) waved off and didn’t throw the green, but I was never told that it didn’t go, that it was still yellow. I’m glad Rinus (VeeKay) is OK. I’m glad I’m OK. I know the Capstone Honda was fast tonight, and hopefully we can show it again tomorrow. Thanks to the 88 crew and the whole team for all the hard work they’re putting in to get the car ready for Race 2.”

20th – Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “There was nothing I could have done. I had a good start, but I was told it was a no-start, so I went off the throttle. I think the other car was too late getting that information; I really don’t know. I got hit – that’s clear. It’s very tough. We could have gone for a podium or a win today. We’ve got to go for it tomorrow. I’m happy that we’ll have a Take 2.”

21st – Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Unbelievable. Yeah, I just got loose, and the front end just took off into the wall. Yeah, not a good feeling. It’s unbelievable. I don’t know what I’ve got to do, and it’s frustrating. It’s so, so, so frustrating. It’s just unbelievable, man. I don’t know what to say but fortunately for me and my Verizon Chevy guys, we get another shot tomorrow. Man, I can’t thank IndyCar enough for everything they’ve done safety-wise with the aeroscreen and halo inside the aeroscreen. You just saw Colton Herta go over the top of someone, and they’ve just done a tremendous job. It’s better than any other series that have implemented something like it. Just a very good job.”

22nd – Marco Andretti (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “We attempted the undercut, which was powerful as you saw with (Oliver) Askew today. But we burnt a clutch line and couldn’t get out of the (pit) box. The guys were able to push start me and we saved another stint, but then the next stop it gave way, and our day was done. Really not the way we’ve wanted the Iowa doubleheader – or the season – to start, and we’ll keep fighting to turn it around.”

23rd – Zach Veach (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “This was one of the hardest nights of my career. We had a huge moment in qualifying with the car not being right, and per the rules we couldn’t change the car between qualifying and the race. We tried to make the best of what we could, but the car was just too far out of the window to be as competitive as we usually are here. At the second pit stop, we had a clutch fail, which turned into a small fire, which ended my night. Glad everyone is OK. Just a tough night.”

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.”