Genesys 300-Quick Thoughts

Photo of Scott Dixon by Chris Jones, Indycar

Scott Dixon’s masterful drive last night has us on the cusp of history. Dixon now has won 51 Indycar races, one shy of Mario Andretti’s 52 victory total. If he doesn’t win tonight, he should tie Andretti later this season, and will probably pass Andretti as well.

Dixon shot to the front from his third starting spot and led all but four laps the rest of the night. I loved the way he toyed with Scott McLaughlin at the end, keeping Mclauglin at arm’s length while avoiding getting mixed up with lapped traffic. Dixon is the best of this era by far.

The other Scott from new Zealand, McLaughlin drove a great race and got himself into second with a great pit call on the last stop. Staring 15th, McLaughlin was steady and let the race come to him. I didn’t expect this type of performance from a rookie on an oval, but I knew he would get a couple of podiums this year.

Scott McLaughlin heading to his first career podium. Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

I guess if you are a driver from new Zealand and your name is Scott, you need to be looking at Indycar.

Notes

Today’s starting grid is again by entrant points as they stand following last night’s race. Dixon is on the pole and Alex Palou starts second. All four Team Penske cars will start in the top 10. I will have more on today’s race later.

Indycar dropped the ball keeping fans informed about what was happening schedule wise. I don’t know why Peacock did not come one when pr4actice was scheduled to begin. The announcers could have discussed the situation and reviewed possible scenarios for the race.

Tony Kanaan can still drive. Kanaan started 23rd and finished 11th.

Alex Palou is the only driver to have l4ed a lap in all three races. Palou and Dixon are the only drivers to have finished in the top 10 in every race this season.

Andretti Autosport continues to struggle. Colton Herta had a solid top five in hand before his brake issue. Alexander rosi finished a quiet eighth. Jack Harvey, whose Meyer-Shank team has a technical alliance with Andretti, was seventh. Harvey is now fifth in points. Herta dropped to 10th after winning at St. Pete.

The race itself was only good dafter the final pit stop, that was a result of the restart with 39 laps to go. Texas has become an unraceable track because of the JP1 compound taking away the second groove. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to this track. It’s become another track NASCAR has ruined just so their cars can put on a staged show once a year.

Pato O’Ward and Arrow McLaren SP finally hit on a strategy that worked and reached the podium. Yje team struggled last week folowing their pole at Barber. O’Ward told me last week good strategy was the missing element in their program. O’Ward moved to fourth in points and may be ready to get his first Indycar win today.

I liked The pit stop clock NBCSN had at the bottom of the scoring pylon. I loved comparing the pit stop times when several drivers stopped at the same time. I hope this feature stays. It definitely helped capture the competition between drivers battling for a position.

Thank you all for following yesterday. Today seems less uncertain. I will have a preview of today’s race aroun mid Day. The race begins at 5:15 Eastern on NBCSN.

Frye: Test Results Produce More Questions

Photo: Pato O’Ward leads the group during testing at IMS Friday. -Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Jay Frye declared it a good day. It gave Indycar a direction although there is still work to do.

“When we came into this, we thought really at the end of the day that this would precipitate more questions than answers. That’s probably what happened, right. Which is fine. That’s what we expected,” the Indycar president told the media after the four var test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday.

“We did learn a lot. But it did also create a lot of other questions,” Frye concluded.

The test, with drivers Scott Dixon, and Alexander Rossi representing Honda, and Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward driving Chevrolets, involved various versions of push to pass in an attempt to simulate what the hybrid component might look like in 2023.

Frye explained what Indycar was looking for.

I think today we’ve got a lot of data off the car in a direction on what approach to go with,” he said. “In the way that we have push to pass, with the hybrid system that would kind of be obsolete. You’ll have a bank of energy that you have with the hybrid system that once it will go away, that you will be able to recharge it so it will be on all the time basically. With push to pass there’s an amount of time or there’s an amount of pushes. That’s what we looked at today. We just gave the drivers for every 200 seconds, you’re going to go do a 20 lap run. Use it as you want it. Most used about half, so 100 seconds. It was interesting to see how it played out.”

“We thought they would have liked that for a longer time. This is new. We’ve never done this on an oval. We’ve tested it at Pocono, Texas and Phoenix before but that was with the old package. For this new one, it definitely is much better than it was before which is cool,” Frye concluded. He also noted that trap speeds which are normally around 230 mile an hour, were 236 miles an hour Friday.

The new, larger 2.4 liter 2023 engine, and the hybrid energy recovery system should give the cars 200 more horsepower in 2023. Frye said the series will not allow that much all at once, but adjust the and work up to 900 horsepower.

Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon, and and Josef newgarden discuss what they learned in Friday’s test at IMS. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar.

The Pit Window spoke with three of the drivers after the early end to the test day.

Scott Dixonliked some of the changes and noticed the increase in speed.

“Obviously there’s a lot of power and some of the durations are quite long,” Dixon said. “10 seconds at 70-80 horsepower, especially in a car that’s trimmed out. Your average lap speed could jump by several mph. There’s some good changes to see how you can apply that and to what effect or not effect on the tire and in regards to running in traffic.”

Dixon’s concern with the push to pass is how long a driver would be locked out of the system after using it. He prefers a shorter lock out time.

Alexander Rossi doesn’t think the push to pass would change anything on an oval.

“Yes it’s a pretty big horsepower boost with the push to pass,” said the Andretti Autosport driver. “We’re going to have to look at it to see if it changed anything for the better or worse. It’s definitely different. We got that test accomplished and have some hard data to look at for the future.”

Josef Newgarden was happy to help Indycar gather data and glad that he learned some tings.

“I thought it went well. When you learn something in testing you’re happy about it. I thought we learned some stuff today on our cars on how things works and how they could potentially work in use scenario.

“The horsepower bump was tunable. You could definitely raise the horsepower increase up or down so that jump in the performance off the corner could be bigger or smaller. The length of it is all adjustable. We ran through a couple of scenarios and a couple of configurations. It’s definitely noticeable. A couple of configurations were noticeable. If you want to run a system like that, it’s really what’s the right configuration to give to the field. I think that’s the type of info we were trying to arm INDYCAR with and now it’s on to them to see what we do in the future.”

Frye said that testing of the hybrid system would likely be in January and February of 2022.

Notes

It was wonderful to watch cars on the IMS oval again. It has been more than a year since I have seen the oval used.

Improvements made by Roger Penske are obvious. Most noticeable is the new video board on the back of the Pagoda. it spans the entire width of the building and the high resolution screen is fantastic.

The main thing is how clean the plaza and Victory Circle are. I was so used to how the areas appeared, but I now realize that they were long overdue for sprucing up.

Testing for the Indianapolis 500 is schedule for April 8 and 9, between the mass vaccination clinics at the Speedway. I assume the turn 2 mounds will be open as they were yesterday.

Dixon: Seven is Better than Six

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

Scott Dixon is just a couple of small steps from the rarefied air of Indycar all time greatness. In 2020 he became the third driver in history to win 50 races. Three more wins will put Dixon in second place all time, passing Mario Andretti. Repeating as series champion will tie him with A. J. Foyt at seven titles. Dixon has two goals for 2021- to repeat as series champion, which he has never done despite his six Astor Cups, and to improve the team’s qualifying efforts from last season.

On repeating and winning a seventh championship, Dixon said,

“Seven sounds a lot better than six, so why not? I’ve never been able to repeat, so that’s goal number one, is to go back-to-back.It’s always tough. I think even to win the last two out ofthree has been pretty exceptional for our team, and it’s been fantastic for PNC and welcoming them to the sport and on board the 9.

To me it would mean everything to me to be able to do that. I think even to get the sixth was — in the current landscape is extremely tough and very difficult to do. Very proud of that. The obvious goal is to add to that. That will be what we’re trying to do.”

From the weekend: O’Ward Ready to Fight for the Championship

https://wordpress.com/post/thepitwindow.blog/15202

Road course qualifying was a challenge for the Chip Ganassi racing team in 2020. Despite Dixon’s consistent finishes and four victories, he was starting mid pack. Dixon thinks they have found a solution.

“Yeah, I think we’ve found some better understanding of maybe the process of — it was kind of weird, I think ’19 we maybe had the best average of the field for qualifying position, and then ’20 was a pretty rough year, especially for road course I think for our team as a whole. Street course was okay, ovals were pretty good,with the exception I think of Iowa where we had a problem.We have some ideas. I think the problem that we’ve faced I think in recent years is when you do this testing,especially in winter months, the tracks are very cold and the conditions are extremely different to what you get to.”

Dixon also acknowledged that he has some some things to work on as a driver as well.

“You think you have a process, but we probably won’t understand it until we get into a few races and see if we can rectify it. Personally I think there’s definitely somethings I needed to change and apply differently, which I’m pretty cognizant of that and have tried to apply that I think to some of our testing thus far, even though we’ve only had two or three days.It’ll be a season-long process, I think, trying to get to that point and knowing if we can fix it.”

Dixon usually hits his stride just after the Indianapolis 500, which may explain his hot start to last season, which began in June.Indycar has not seen a back to back title winner since Dario Franchitti, who the championship in three consecutive years, 2009-2011. Dixon hopes to join his former teammate. Even if he fails to repeat, he is certain to finish in the top five.

Dixon Leads First Test Day

Photos courtesy of Vincent Anderson

Scott Dixon led a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2-3 in the first day of testing for the 2021 season yesterday. Dixon’s best lap of 52.32 seconds on the Sebring short course was followed by teammates Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou. Sebastien Bourdais, driving for A. J. Foyt Racing, was fourth on the day.

Marcus Ericsson

Seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, preparing for his first Indycar race at Barber in April, completed the most laps of the seven drivers involved Monday, 160. He was last on the speed chart, but tspeed wasn’t his objective. Johnson was there to learn the car.

Jimmie Johnson in his first full Indycar test day.

Today at Sebring Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have their first on track test of the year.

There will be a special announcement at 11 am Eastern today regarding the Race for Equality and Change. The announcement will be streamed on Indycar.com. I’ll be back with a quick announcement summary right after the conference and somje thoughts later today.

Victory Lap Celebration: Hinchcliffe Keeps it Light

Photo: Scott Dixon accepts the Astor Cup, his sixth.

The NTT Indycar Series Victory Lap celebration last evening, hosted by James Hinchcliffe, honored Series champion Scott Dixon and others for their achievements during the just completed 2020 season. Hoinchcliffe created an oscar style atnosphere, with an opening monologue and lists of nominees for some awards. His best line came early, talking about the milestones some drivers met this season.

“Scott Dixon’s 50th win, Will Power’s 60th pole, Colton Herta shaving for the first time.” Hinchcliffe quipped.

Several recipients joined the host at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for one on one segments while others, notably Power and Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, accepted their awards via Zoom.

Noticing the unmade bed in the background as he talked with Power about his P1 Pole award for garnering the most poles, Hinchcliffe noted,

“I see you’re faster on the track than you are at making a bed.”

Mark Miles appeared and discussed the challenges of 2020. He said the biggest challenge was keeping everyone’s morale up. Miles praised Roger Penske for always staying,”positive, determined, and focused.”

Jay Frye said the series learned to be flexible and will keep many things they learned going forward. Frye indicated the double header qualifying format for ovals will remain. he hopes to not have to alter the schedule next year.

“It seems like we ran 50 races this year,” he said.

Doug Boles revealed the logo for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500after a short video explaining what each element of it represented.

I find this logo a little cold. It doesn’t have the dynamic feeling of the ,past few logos. if they just had a silhouette of the Pagoda I think it would be better. Once again, they failed to ask for my input.

Alexander Rossi won the Fan Favorite Award, and Marco Andretti won an award for the best on track moment for winning the pole for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay talked about his first year in the series. VeeKay had a pole, a podium, five top tens , and three top 5s in leading the first year class.

The program was an entertaining hour and a few minutes. If you didn’t get a chance to watch last night, the show is available on YouTube.

It was a nice way to end what was a difficult season. the entire series deserves an award just for getting a season in.

Quick Thoughts (After a Deep Breath)-Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar

The Race

If Indycar wants to make St. Pete the season finale, I’m fine with that.The venue produced the finale drama that is missing from long road courses. Mistakes on a street course are costly.

I hope this race shows Indycar that double points are unnecessary for the finale.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden, capped by an amazing pass for the lead. His win was a normal ending to a race which typified how the year 2020 has gone overall.

Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

It was great fun watching Newgarden and Scott Dixon both doing exactly what they needed to do to have a shot at winning the title. I hope we can see this championship rivalry for a few more years.

This race had everything- leaders crashing, yellows playing with strategy, some rain, the pace car running out of fuel, the title intrigue, and the Andretti Autosport drama on both ends of the grid.

 I have never seen a team that had a complete vise-grip on a weekend destruct as quickly as Andretti Autosport did today. The team had seemed to have figured out what was ailing them early in the season the last few races and were in line for a podium sweep at one point.

With Marco Andretti not qualifying for the Leaders’ Circle, you have to wonder if we see the 98 next year.

I hope Alexander Rossi uses all of this year’s frustrations to have a monster season in 2021. Today had to be particularly heartbreaking to be on the verge of salvaging something from this year and have it go away so fast.

I think James Hinchcliffe did enough this weekend to be the prime candidate for the 26 car next year.

A couple more laps of yellow and Alex Palou might have been able to get to the end of the race. I hope he will be back next year. I really like the way he drives.

Sebastien Bourdais appears to already be helping A. J. Foyt Racing. He was in the top 10 all weekend. After getting shuffled back on pit stops and with the aid of the cautions, he worked his way up to fourth at the end. Foyt placed both cars in the top 10 with Charlie Kimball finishing eighth.

Pato O’Ward didn’t win a race this year, but I will be shocked if he doesn’t win one in 2021. Arrow McLaren SP had a competitive season. Another nice drive today for his second runner-up finish of the year.

Congratulations to Rinus VeeKay, Indycar rookie of the Year. I’m glad that he will get another year at ECR to continue to grow as a driver.

I appreciate NBC going overtime with thier coverage to allow for an interview with Dixon.

The Title

Josef Newgarden (R) congratulates Scott Dixon on winning the Indycar series title. phot from NBC on Twitter

Scott Dixon has firmly placed himself on the same plane as Foyt and Mario Andretti. He now has six championships to go along with 50 career victories. I expect him to tie Foyt with seven titles and to end up with close to 60 race wins before he is done. I have been privileged to see both Foyt and Dixon race. While they drove in different eras, each had superior talent to their peers. I may not have appreciated Foyt at the time he drove for all his accomplishments, but his career has given me the perspective and context to appreciate Dixon while he is still active.

The last four series titles-

2017- Newgarden

2018-  Dixon

2019- Newgarden

2020- Dixon

We should have maybe three more years of this rivalry.

Dixon and Newgarden completed every lap this season. It is extremely rare that one driver accomplishes this feat in a season. It is obvious why they were the title contenders and that there was only a 16 point difference at the end.

I will be back on Tuesday with my season review, which may be divided into two parts. Thanks for follow along this weekend and all season. I appreciate you so much.

Race Day at St. Pete- The Title and Money on the Line

Good morning. Today’s schedule: (All Times Eastern)

10:40-11:10 Warm up NBC Gold

2:32 Green Flag NBC 2:30-4:30 100 laps

A reminder – cars will be on the pace lap when the television broadcast begins.

Scott Dixon just needs to maintain his starting position to win his sixth championship. The window of possibilities for Josef Newgarden shrunk a bit when he didn’t win the pole yesterday. His eighth startoing spot will make it hard for Newgarden to get the 53 maximum points today. Both drivers need to get through turn 1 of lap 1 cleanly.

The leaders’ Circle final spot is still up for grabs. Marco Andretti will start 23. The 98 is seven points out of the Circle at the moment and will need to move up to have a chance. Sebastien Bourdais’ seventh starting spot should help the 14 car keep the final spot. Conor Daly starts 14th. The 20 car is six points ahead of the 14 in 20th.

Simon Pagenaud was headed for his best qualifying effort of the year until his late spin cost him his two best laps. Still he starts 12th, which is an improvement. Pagenaud has not let where he starts affect his racing. he could be a factor today.

Rookie of the Year

When the green flag flies, Rinus VeeKay will earn Rookie of the Year honors. VeeKay, dribving for Ed Carpenter Racing, got off to an awful start this season at Texas. He crashed in qualifying and crashed early in the race, also taking out rookie Alex Palou. The rest of the season VeeKay showed tremendous improvement, capturing a pole and a podium spot at the Harvest Grand Prix.

Notes from the Ground

I received several messages yesterday from friends at the track. My friend Ed Murray said there wer fewer vendors, which was to be expected.. he said people were complying with mask wearing.

I later saw a photo from the stands where several fans were not wearing masks. I later heard from others that track staff was reminding people about the policy.

The track claims that nearly all tickets have sold.

I wonder how much of the grandstands will remain standing for the March race.

I applaud the efforts of Indycar, Green Savoree, and the city of St. Petersburg to put this race together for a second time this year.

I’ll be back with a quick warm up recap and then my race quick toughts this afternoon.

St.Pete Preview- The End of a Long and Winding Road

I really didn’t think this race would happen this year. Rescheduling a street race is a monumental task, and few cities would want to go through the inconvenience a second time in the same year. If the 2021 schedule holds, the NTT Indycar Series will return to St. Pete in a little more than four months. Kudos to everyone who made this event happen, but a special hat tip to the city of St. Petersburg, who had to bear the brunt of this uncertainty.

Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be the 15th edition of an Indycar race on the streets of the central Florida city. The first race was won by Paul Tracy in 2003. After a year’s absence, racing returned in 2005 and has continued uninterrupted since then.

This year’s race is scheduled for 100 laps, down from the 110 laps of the past few years, on the 1.8 mile, 14 turn course. 2020 is the first year St. Pete has hosted the finale. it is usually the season opener. In the span about four months, it will be the finale of one season and the opening race of the next year.

Although the title hunt is a two man race, and Scott Dixon is in a very good position to win his sixth title, there are several other things to look for this weekend. There is still a battle for the final Leaders’ Circle spot. Some drivers are hoping for a good showing to help secure a seat for 2021. Scott McLaughlin is making his Indycar debut, while a couple other drivers may not return to the series next season.

Championship on the Line

Scott Dixon heads into the weekend with a 32 point lead over Josef Newgarden. Dixon’s lead, which at one point had swelled to 117 points, has had what for him is a slump with four finishes in the bottom half of the top ten. Newgarden, meanwhile has steadily sliced the lead with two wins in the last four races.

Dixon needs to finish ninth or better to clinch the Astor Cup regardless of how Newgarden fares. Newgarden will need some help from Dixon to have a chance of winning his third title. I don’t see Dixon losing the crown.

Debuts and Auditions

Australian Supercars champ[ion Scott McLaughlin makes his long anticipated Indycar debut for Team Penske in car number 3. McLaughlin’s firast Indycar race had been set for the GMR Grand Prix in May. He participated in the Spring Training test in Austin and was third fastest. Mclaughlin will be a full time driver for Penske in 2021. It will be strange seeing someone besides Helio Castroneves in the number 3.

James Hinchcliffe, who is finishing the season for Andretti Autosport in car 26, which was vacated by Zach Veach, still has nothing set for next season. Coming off of 13th and 14th place finishes in the Harvest Grand Prixs, Hinchcliffe could use a good showing to insure he has a place on the grid next year.

Oliver Askew has been cleared to drive after undergoing concussion protocols. This is Askew’s last drive for Arrow McLaren SP. Askew will look to have a good weekend as he seeks a new ride for 2021. Felix rosenqvist will take Askew’s  seat at AMSP  next season.

Charlie Kimball is not confirmed for another year for A. J. Foyt’s number4 seat. He needs a strong showing to stay in contention for the ride.

The Battle for 22nd

Four cars will be jockeying to finish the season entrant points stand ing in 22nd, the final leader’s Circle spot. Entering St. Pete, Foyt’s number 14 car is in the final slot with 173 points. The 98 is 23rd with 166. The addition of Sebastien Bourdais to the 14 should help Foyt stay within the Circle. The 20 car of Ed Carpenter Racing is 21st with 179 points. One of these three cars will end up on the outside looking in for the $1 million plus payout from Indycar.

The race broadcast is on NBC beginning at 2:30 Eastern time Sunday. The green flag is at 2:32. Cars will be rolling when the broadcast begins and there will be no pre race show. The television window goes to 4:30, which may mean a very brief post race interview with the race winner and series champion.

My picks- Will Power to win the pole and the race. Scott Dixon will take his sixth  series championship.

Look for session reports tomorrow and a race wrap up Sunday evening.

 

Dixon, Newgarden Have the Same Weekend Plan- Keep it Simple

Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden have a similar approach to the NTT Indycar Series finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg- keep things simple and win the race. Dixon, who leads Newgarden by 32 points, needs to finish ninth or better Sunday to put the title out of Newgarden’s reach.

Dixon stated his objective, “Obviously the goal is to go for a win. That makes it a lot easier, then you don’t have to worry about any of the scenarios. …we try to typically keep it pretty simple. I would say that was not the case for the last few races, which got us into a bit of a tailspin. Josef and Team Penske, him and his teammates, have been doing a fantastic job.”

Dixon admits his spin at Mid Ohio put him in this situation and made the championship more difficult to wrap up early.

For Newgarden, models showing that he has just a 1% chance of winning the title is fine with him.

“I love on the fact sheet, I saw this put out, it was like 20,000 scenarios, 1% of the scenarios means we can win the championship. You’re saying there’s a chance and that’s all we need.”

Dixon is not sure about the effect the aeroscreen will have as the series races what will be its only street cdpourse race of the season.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you. It’s the first time for it. It’s done a great job first season, the conditions we’ve had in different situations. We didn’t get the full rain situation, which I think a lot of us expected throughout the season at some point. Maybe the depth perception maybe a little altered depending on the walls, where there’s placed. Honestly, this year it’s been very good in every situation. Touch wood that there’s no issue there.”

Newgarden is excited that fans will be able to attend the race this weekend.

“It’s been a tough year. Showing up to the racetrack in the conditions that we’ve seen this year, it’s hard. I think just from an event standpoint, you don’t have the energy of the fans and the crowd. That’s really what makes INDYCAR racing what it is. I think it makes sport what it is.”

Dixon added, “Just to touch on what Josef said about the atmosphere, I think a lot of us thrive on that. To be able to go back full circle and have fans again at St. Pete I think is going to be really cool.

But, yeah, just the effort that’s gone in to make a season and have a season where a lot of people haven’t had that opportunity. A lot of categories in motor racing, but other sports have really struggled. A lot of people that have gone into it, partners, quite involved. We’re very fortunate and very lucky. Glad we’re able to carry on.”

Both drivers expressed appreciation to Indycar and Green Savoree for working out a date to have this race.

Dixon and Newgarden plan to change their approach this weekend like any other race weekend. Newgarden said changing your approach can get you into trouble.

On the prospect of racing with Australian VA Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin, both drivers expressed excitement.Newgarden, who will be McLaughlin’s teammate, acknowledged this will be a challenge for him this weekend, but added,

“It’s going to be really fascinating to see how he handles this challenge. This is going to be an enormous task for Scott. He’s really, really good. We already know that. You could see that a mile away. I think we all admire his strengths around the Super Car side. I think he’s a great racer overall, doesn’t matter what car you put him in.”

Dixon is excited to have a fellow countryman in the series.

“Yeah, he’s damn good. I’m super excited for him. I met him maybe four or five years ago. We had to do an appearance at some event in Auckland city, do autograph sessions. Had to sit around for a long time and chat. This is before he had gone to Team Penske.

Yeah, he’s been crushing it obviously down there with his pole record, championship situation. Then for him to have this opportunity, I know he loves America, always wanted to come to America. I think it’s really cool to have another Kiwi in the field, which didn’t really even seem to be on the radar for quite a few years.”

Dixon is disappointed about the lack of ovals on the 2021 schedule and hopes more will return in the future.

“I’m bummed there’s only three ovals. I started in this category in 2003. It was 16 ovals in the series. We definitely need to work hard and trying to get back to that. I was extremely bummed about Iowa. It’s not a place I’ve won at, but it’s a track that is complete chaos, very difficult to set the car up. It’s exhausting physically. It provides some of our best racing we have all season. Hopefully that can be rectified down the road.”

Dixon and Newgarden think the race will come down to the tires, which are an unknown factor going in. They tested the street tire at Sebring, which doesn’t give a true indication of its wear. Dixon thinks three stops might be needed during the race.