Scott Dixon won the 2017 Verizon IndyCar KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America

Scott Dixon on course during the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Matt Fraver

Starting from 5th place Car 9 Scott Dixon, Honda won the 2017 Verizon IndyCar KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America. This win gave Dixon his 41st Indy car career. 2nd Place car 2 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, started from 3rd place. 3rd Place Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, started from pole.

The confetti flies in Victory Circle for Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, and Helio Castroneves following the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Matt Fraver

4th Place Car 1 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, started from 4th place followed by 5th place Car 12 Will Power, Chevrolet, started from 2nd place. 6th Place Car 83 Charlie Kimball, Honda, started from 10th place followed by 7th Car 19 Ed Jones, Honda, started from 11th place. 8th Place Car 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, started from 6th place followed by 9th place Car 8 Max Chilton, Honda, started from 7th place. Lastly in the Top 10 was Car 7 Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, in 10th place, started from 19th place.

Helio Castroneves leads the field toward the Moraine Sweep toward Turn 4 during the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Matt Fraver

The race had 2 Cautions for 3 laps: 1st Caution on lap 29 for Contact: Car 26 Takuma Sato, Honda in Turn 11. 2nd Caution on lap 46 for Contact: Car 10 Tony Kanaan, Honda in Turn 11.

James Hinchcliffe on course during the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Matt Fraver

The race had 6 Lead changes among 4 drivers. Lap Leaders: Castroneves 1-12, Newgarden 13-14, Castroneves 15-19, Newgarden 20-30, Dixon 31-42, Kimball 43, Dixon 44-55.

Max Chilton makes a pit stop during the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Chris Jones

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Dixon 379, Pagenaud 345, Castroneves 342, Sato 323, Newgarden 318, Power 316, Rahal 307, Kanaan 273, Rossi 271, Jones 254.

Scott Dixon trails the pace car during a caution period during the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America — Photo by: Matt Fraver

Dixon captures prized Road America win, 41st victory of Indy car career

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (Sunday, June 25, 2017) – One outstanding prize eluding Scott Dixon in his illustrious Indy car career was a win at Road America’s picturesque and lightning-fast permanent road course. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver checked that box today, winning the KOHLER Grand Prix.

Dixon crossed the finish line 0.5779 of a second ahead of Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden to earn the 41st win of his impressive career. It moved the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion within one victory of tying Michael Andretti for third on the all-time list. It’s also the 13th straight season Dixon has won at least one race, extending his Indy car record.

“We raced as hard as we could,” Dixon said. “We had a little bit of luck go our way, we had good strategy, the pit stops were fantastic. These are the days you have to capitalize on.

“This is huge for Honda at a track that doesn’t suit our configuration, but the power and the (fuel) mileage really performed today. I’m just happy to be in the winner’s circle for the first time this year. At Road America, that’s mega.”

Driving the No. 9 NTT Data Honda, Dixon started fifth and made what wound up the decisive pass of the day on Lap 31. Relying on his softer Firestone alternate tires, Dixon zoomed past Newgarden, using the primary tire compound, on a restart and into the lead heading into Turn 1 on the 4.014-mile, 14-turn circuit.

“I think strategy-wise we definitely played it right with going to the red (alternate) tires at that point,” Dixon said. “The (primary) blacks definitely take a bit longer to come up, to get the grip that you need.

“Josef gave me the room. He obviously had a moment which made it pretty close and pretty tight with the way his car slid, but we both got through there. With other people, you probably wouldn’t have pulled that off. It was nice to race clean with Josef today.”

Dixon led 24 of the last 25 laps to win for the first time at Road America in his fourth start on the track named by most Verizon IndyCar Series drivers as their favorite road course. Dixon has now won on 11 of the 16 circuits on this year’s schedule.

His first win of 2017 allowed Dixon to stretch his championship lead to 34 points over last year’s titlist, Simon Pagenaud. It also makes Dixon the eighth different driver to win in 10 races this season, another indicator of the ultra-high level of competition within the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Team Penske drivers finished second through fifth in the 55-lap race. Trailing Newgarden across the finish line were Helio Castroneves (No. 3 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet) in third place, Pagenaud (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet) in fourth and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) in fifth.

“It stings a little bit coming home second when you feel like you have a winning car,” said Newgarden, who started third in the No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet. “Scott was great today, so was Ganassi Racing. Those guys did a great job, certainly very deserving of the win. But that’s tough coming up a little bit short.

“I felt like when the caution came out and we were on the primary tires, Helio and Scott had the alternates, I thought this is probably not going to be very good on the restart,” Newgarden added. “It was hard to get temperature in them to get up to speed for the restart.”

Dixon, with eight top-six finishes in the first 10 races, has totaled 379 points through 10 races. Pagenaud is second in the standings with 345, Road America pole sitter Castroneves third at 342, Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato fourth with 323 and Newgarden fifth at 318.Sato, battling a painful strained neck muscle, lost control of his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda on Lap 29 and hit the barrier in Turn 11, bringing out the first full-course caution. Tony Kanaan, in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda, crashed in the same area on Lap 46 after making light contact with the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda of Alexander Rossi. Kanaan was making his Indy car-record 275th consecutive race start.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway, which airs live at 5 p.m. ET July 9 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Claman De Melo claims first Indy Lights win

Carlin’s Zachary Claman De Melo can now call himself an Indy Lights race winner. The Montreal native took the lead from pole sitter Colton Herta on Lap 5 at Road America and never looked back, winning by 10.5479 seconds over Kyle Kaiser in Race 2 of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires doubleheader weekend.

Indy Lights is the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder for drivers and teams aspiring to reach the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“It’s really exciting, I’m super happy,” said Claman De Melo. “I can’t thank everybody who helped me get to this point enough. It’s been a lot of work up until now that a lot of people don’t see.
It took a bit longer than I wanted to get this win, but hopefully I can build off this and keep fighting for wins every weekend now.”

Kaiser’s second-place finish added six points to his championship lead over Matheus Leist, Claman De Melo’s teammate at Carlin who won Saturday’s race and finished fourth today. Kaiser has a 27-point advantage over Leist after nine of 16 races.

“What They’re Saying” from the KOHLER Grand Prix

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion): It’s a little disappointing that a Team Penske car didn’t win today, but no complaints about the No. 1 Menards Chevy. Congratulations to the (Scott) Dixon team. They did a great job. We did all that we could do. There were a lot of different tire strategies in play. We were one of the few teams that started on blacks and it worked for us. We just never had the opportunity to get around some cars and make more noise. In the end, it was a good day for us. It’s an honor to carry the Menards name in the Midwest. The fan support was fantastic again this year.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet): “You can’t predict (yellow flags) and I think our strategy was spot on. We were doing what we needed to do to stay out front there all day, but you just can’t predict those yellows, and some days they fall your way and some days they don’t. Today they didn’t fall our way. (Scott) Dixon and the whole Ganassi team did a great job and they deserved to win with the job they did. I felt good about what we had and we had four strong Chevrolets all weekend with Team Penske. It stings a bit that we didn’t get the win because of how good this car was all weekend. We looked good and you couldn’t miss us. We had the fastest lap which was pretty cool and I am just proud of all our guys. Just disappointed we couldn’t get it done.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet): “The REV Group Chevy was good, especially in the beginning. I was taking it easy and saving fuel, a lot of fuel actually. When we put the blacks (Firestone primary tires) on, I knew it was going to be rough. At the end of the race Scott (Dixon) did a good job saving fuel and going a lap farther. They were fast, for sure, and it’s a shame because our car was really good without question. But when you battle this close with everyone it’s the difference of one small detail. At the end of the day, it was a good day for the points championship. It’s kind of disappointing that Team Penske didn’t get the win here today considering how strong all of the cars were. That’s the way it goes sometimes. We’ll come back ready to go for Iowa.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Obviously not the day we were hoping for. In the race we settled into a three-stop strategy, like so many others. After our second stop on the restart, Max (Chilton) and I were on reds (Firestone alternate tires) and Will (Power) was on blacks (Firestone primary tires). Max went for a gap into Turn 3 and I went with him and got into the side of Will; it broke the front wing and I honestly thought it broke the front suspension. I crawled my way around into pit lane and we found some bent parts, managed to get going again, but at that point we were already a lap down. On a track like this it’s tough to make that back. We’ve had a couple of bad results the last few races. This is the only one that was on us, other than that it’s really just been bad luck. Hopefully we can get all this behind us and we can have a good result at Iowa in the Arrow car.”

MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “I think the Lucas Oil SPM team did a great job to bring the No. 7 car in the top 10. I had nice pit stops and the car balance was fine. Today’s result is not bad at all considering the problems we dealt with yesterday and with missing practice on Friday. It was a pretty intense race for me.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “It’s not how we wanted it, especially after how quick we were this morning. I’ve said it before, sometimes if you’re quick in warmup, you’re nowhere in the race. Something just wasn’t working for us. On a set of reds (Firestone alternate tires), we were struggling massively and then we went to the blacks (Firestone primary tires), which would’ve been alright, but then the safety car came out and everyone else had longer life on the reds and I was struggling again. It was just a frustrating afternoon, because I think we’ve been quick all weekend but nothing seems to go our way.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda, 2017 KOHLER Grand Prix winner): “The NTT Data car has really had pace all weekend. The Penske cars definitely had something figured out this weekend and we knew we were going to have a battle on our hands. Then we missed the morning warmup today with a fuel pressure issue. The team worked hard to fix the car and it was a bit of an unknown for the race, but it held up. We had great strategy and great pace today and I couldn’t be happier for the team. We had a few races earlier this year that I felt got away, so this feels good and it’s good for us in the points.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “It hasn’t been our weekend here at Road America for sure. We were working our way back up and we thought we had a good chance at getting a top-10 finish, but then he (Alexander Rossi) blocked me and put me in the wall. I don’t think it was a nice move at all, but I’m not going to waste my time with it. My wrist is a little sore, but I’m OK overall. That was a big hit. Congrats to Scott (Dixon) and the No. 9 car. They were fast all weekend.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 KOHLER Grand Prix winner): “We were just caught up in things all day. The Verizon Chevy was fantastic, just as it had been all weekend. I battled good with (Scott) Dixon on that first stint. Maybe we could have gone one more lap on that first set of tires, but the fuel numbers might not have worked out, so we played it safe. My hat is off to Scott (Dixon). I felt pretty good about a Team Penske victory today, but they did a great job. The guys gave me a great car and we didn’t have any problems in the pits. We gave it all that we could. It was a good day for points and it will be very interesting from here.”GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 GEHL / D-A Lubricant Honda): “The car was a handful today. I knew about five laps in that I didn’t have the pace for a three-stop strategy. We tried as best we could to work with what we had during the race and overcome it. I would have obviously liked to have finished better, but eighth is about as good as we could do today. We struggled with a very loose race car all weekend and just couldn’t put a dent in the problem. We worked awfully hard but just missed it this weekend. We will go test at Iowa now and hope to figure out some stuff there to come back strong at that race.”

ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ (No. 18 UNIFIN Honda): “It was a crazy race. I had a good start and we tried to go on with the race, trying to find the right balance in the car. Obviously, I was giving my best all the time. Then I started to have a lot of understeer in the car, and I struggled to find the pace and a good balance. I was not feeling comfortable in the car. I had to pit a few times to change the front wing to try and see if there was any damage or anything. It was hard to understand what was going on. It was a very tough race, but I think we have to move forward and use this as an experience and keep working hard. I definitely learned quite a lot out there.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “It was a really tough race. We had a loose car yesterday. It was loose, but fast, for qualifying, and today again the car was really loose. I was hanging on the whole race, but the team had some good pit stops and we were able to move up. Obviously, the strategy was pretty similar to everyone else. Everyone was aggressive out there. It was
hard racing but we came out with a seventh place and we moved up a little bit in the points.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “There was a lot of hard racing out there today. We had gotten pretty far up into the field before we had some issues with the front suspension that prevented us from continuing our move forward. We had to make a few extra stops that took a long time, but the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys did a really good job at diagnosing the problem and fixing it as
quick as they could. Our pace was really good and I’m slightly satisfied to come back to 12th. It was unfortunately another race where we should have finished much higher up.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet): “We felt pretty good about how the race was going for a while, we were running with some normally racey guys. Then that last yellow came out and we were stuck on blacks without much overtake left. I’d burned up a lot of overtake just trying to get up to where we were at. We may have ended up 12th or 13th, something like that. It wasn’t going
to be anything to write home about, but at least we had worked our way up through the field a little bit. When it went back to green, we just got eaten up by those guys that were on red and still had a bit of overtake left. Then we had a mechanical issue within the last three laps of the race that really took us out of the running altogether. We just kind of have to take this result on the chin and move on to Iowa.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It was a tough weekend and tough race. I injured my neck during practice Saturday morning. We started in the back row, tried to make a push up, but I caught an accident. The engine was stalled and I wasn’t sure if we could continue, but the safety crew came and fired up the engine, so I came back to the pit, buckled again and I was able to keep going. In the end we made the finish, but we need a better weekend. Iowa is next and we will be ready.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It was a rough day for us. We started eighth, but ran into throttle problems. We went off track on the first stint because the throttle stuck wide open. We came into the pits to try to fix it and got hit with a pit lane speed violation ecause my pit lane limiter wasn’t working. We still weren’t getting full throttle – I was barely hitting sixth gear. It’s hard to race that way, especially at a track like this.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We had a tough day. In the end we had a good car, we were moving forward, passing for sixth with three laps to go. Charlie (Kimball) made a late block and took off my front wing. I had a good race going until Charlie moved out late like that, it’s just really unfortunate. I’m happy to switch gears to Iowa where we’ve put our DHL machine on the top step
three times. I’m ready for a fourth win.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “Overall a really solid day for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. We had really good pace and really good fuel mileage on the first two stints. That third stint, I don’t think I managed the Firestone alternates as well as some of the guys around me. You saw that with the No. 12 car with a better in and out lap. That was disappointing, because I
think we could have maybe had a shot at a top five. Overall though, to fight off some competitors for that last stint after the final yellow felt good and it felt good to bring it home in sixth for the guys. Kind of a semi-trouble free weekend and pretty happy with it. Big congrats to the NTT Data team and the No. 9 car. What a way to celebrate Mike Hull’s 25th anniversary with the team and get Honda and Chip Ganassi Racing their first win after coming back together this season.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): “We had a really strong race car. We could’ve been fighting for a top-five finish this afternoon. I think we started with a good strategy, going for a four-stop race after starting 15th, but it all caught up to us on that first yellow. Luckily, we had already gained track position and speed running on open track. We had an issue with our front wing, which ironically or not, is the same issue we finished the race with here last year, so we definitely need to figure out exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

KOHLER Grand Prix race results

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Results Sunday of the KOHLER Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 4.014-mile Road America, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, car #, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (5) Car 9 Scott Dixon, Honda, 55, Running
2. (3) car 2 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 55, Running
3. (1) Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 55, Running
4. (4) Car 1 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 55, Running
5. (2) Car 12 Will Power, Chevrolet, 55, Running
6. (10) Car 83 Charlie Kimball, Honda, 55, Running
7. (11) Car 19 Ed Jones, Honda, 55, Running
8. (6) Car 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, 55, Running
9. (7) Car 8 Max Chilton, Honda, 55, Running
10. (19) Car 7 Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 55, Running
11. (13) Car 14 Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 55, Running
12. (14) Car 20 Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 55, Running
13. (15) Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda, 55, Running
14. (12) Car 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 55, Running
15. (21) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 55, Running
16. (18) Car 4 Car 21 JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 55, Running
17. (17) Car 18 Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 55, Running
18. (8) Car 27 Marco Andretti, Honda, 54, Running
19. (20) Car 26 Takuma Sato, Honda, 54, Running
20. (9) Car 5 James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 53, Running
21. (16) Car 10 Tony Kanaan, Honda, 44, Contact

 

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 123.431 mph
Time of Race: 1:47:18.9870
Margin of victory: 0.5779 of a second
Cautions: 2 for 3 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 4 drivers
Fastest Lap: 139.664 mph (103.4651 seconds) on Lap 52 by 2 – Josef Newgarden
Fastest Leader Lap: 139.462 mph (103.6154 seconds) on Lap 52 by 9 – Scott Dixon
Verizon P1 Award: Helio Castroneves (01:41.3007, 142.649 mph)
Legend: R = Sunoco Rookie of the Year Candidate; All cars use fourth-generation Verizon IndyCar Series Chassis (IR-12) with Chevrolet or Honda aerodynamic bodywork and Firestone tires

Next Race: July 9, 2017 IOWA CORN 300 Iowa Speedway – Newton, IA

IndyCar
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Graphics & Photos Courtesy of Indycar

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