IndyCar starting lineup at Portland: Scott McLaughlin on pole as Penske rules

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Scott McLaughlin led a qualifying assault by Team Penske, claiming the top spot in the starting lineup for Sunday’s IndyCar Grand Prix of Portland.

Teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power took the next two spots in qualifying, though Newgarden will be starting eighth because of a grid penalty. That will put the Dallara-Chevrolets of McLaughlin and Power side by side on the front row heading into Portland’s treacherous Turn 1.

“Credit to everyone at Team Penske,” McLaughlin told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “We weren’t great here last year but we’ve come back here with three hot rods. We’re all pushing each other, Will, Josef and myself. To get pole is obviously a great thing. The Chevy power is great. I’m looking forward to the race.”

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for Portland qualifying results | Round 1, Group 1 | Round 1, Group 2 | Round 2 l Round 3

REDS OR BLACKS: Starting lineup with tire designations

INDYCAR AT PORTLANDDetails for watching Sunday on NBC

All three drivers are in the fight for the championship with two races remaining. Power leads the standings by three points over Newgarden.

Unlike his teammates, McLaughlin is seeking his first title and said the rules are clear for how Roger Penske’s cars will race each other.

“We know that when we get employed what we need to do,” said McLaughlin, who gained a point with the pole and now trails by 53 points. “When the team wins, we all win. For me, I’ve just got to focus on what I’m doing. If I can be at the front and take points off others by winning the race, that’s exactly what we want to do.

“Until I’m mathematically out of it, I want to keep going hard and keep trying to win races. I’m feeling really good in the car. We’re building on to really good things for next year. I’m really proud of this group. These guys and these gals work very hard and I’m very proud of them. It’s a really big testament to them.”

It’s the third pole position this season for McLaughlin. He won after starting first in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, and he finished second from the pole last month on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee.

Two other championship contenders made the Fast Six final round of qualifying: Alex Palou (fourth) and Pato O’Ward (fifth).

Teammates Scott Dixon (16th) and Marcus Ericsson (18th) will need to keep their championship bids alive while starting deeper in the field. Both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers were eliminated in the first round of qualifying.

All the contenders will be on guard entering the first lap as Portland’s Turn 1 often produces contact at the green flag.

“It’s definitely the most unpredictable” turn in IndyCar, Newgarden said. “When it goes according to plan, it’s fine. More times than not, that doesn’t happen.”

Power said Portland has “the wost first corner in the whole series. You’re at the mercy of all the guys behind you and just hoping they do the right thing.

“Yeah, such a bad corner. Such an inviting, wide corner. Not ideal for the second-to-last race of the season.”

IndyCar officials distributed a memo to drivers and teams Saturday afternoon outlining start procedures for Sunday’s race.

The acceleration zone for the pole-sitter will be the exit of the Turn 12 (the final corner), and drivers who take a shortcut at the Turn 2 apex curbing must make every effort to utilize second Turn 1 runoff chicane.

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s Portland Grand Prix on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed):


ROW 1

1. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 58.2349 (121.412)
2. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 58.4254 (121.016)

ROW 2

3. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 58.4482 (120.969)
4. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 58.5075 (120.846)

ROW 3

5. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 58.6090 (120.637)
6. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 58.3475 (121.177)

ROW 4

7. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 58.3925 (121.084)
8. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 58.3129 (121.249)–**

ROW 5

9. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 58.3983 (121.072)
10. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 58.4038 (121.061)

ROW 6

11. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 58.4475 (120.970)
12. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 58.5356 (120.788)

ROW 7

13. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 58.4865 (120.889)
14. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 58.1988 (121.487)

ROW 8

15. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 58.5097 (120.842)
16. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 58.2628 (121.354)

ROW 9

17. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 58.5332 (120.793)
18. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 58.3064 (121.263)

ROW 10

19. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 58.6898 (120.471)
20. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 58.4398 (120.986)

ROW 11

21. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 58.7534 (120.340)
22. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 58.6058 (120.643)

ROW 12

23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 59.1933 (119.446)
24. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 58.6127 (120.629)

ROW 13

25. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 59.0082 (119.821)

**–Penalized six grid positions for an engine penalty

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.”