Dixon expects rivals to learn from Ganassi, Penske pit strategy

Road America Race 1 winner Scott Dixon says he’s expecting rival teams to follow the pitstop strategy followed by Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing when battle is rejoined in the second race of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America.

Dixon expects rivals to learn from Ganassi, Penske pit strategy

Of the front-runners, all of whom had started on Firestone’s softer alternate compound, it was Team Penske’s Will Power who revealed the benefits of the undercut, by stopping as early as Lap 12 for a set of primary tires, and vaulting from 10th to third (aided by pitstop trouble for Graham Rahal). Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh’s Alex Palou did the same, and he leapt forward from ninth to fourth.

Ganassi appeared to learn swiftly from such tactics and at the second round of stops, the #9 strategist Mike Hull pulled in Dixon two laps earlier than some of his rivals, one lap earlier than others. He then found himself right behind new leader, Power, as polesitter Josef Newgarden dropped out of contention after stalling in the pits.

“It was very unexpected I think,” said Dixon. “I was chatting to Will after the race about just how big the undercut was. I was kind of shocked when the team came on [the radio] and said, ‘Hey, it's you and Will fighting for the lead.’ I thought they must have the timing and scoring wrong. How did we jump five cars in that one pit stop exchange?

“The undercut was big today. Interesting to see if a bunch of people jump on that. Yes, the fuel mileage becomes a little bit tough to get.

“I'd say our car is not particularly nice to drive. Hopefully we can come up with some changes tonight. I think there will be a lot more people that are aggressive tomorrow with that strategy and that undercut because everybody can see how it works for them.”

Why Ganassi is excelling

Dixon explained that IndyCar teams are still in a process of learning the nature and extent of the aeroscreen-equipped cars’ revised weight distribution and center of gravity and their effect on the tires. He feels Chip Ganassi’s squad is responding better than its rivals to the highly compressed schedule of the current race weekends, that today saw the race start less than five hours after first practice had ended.

“We didn't particularly have great speed this morning or even in qualifying… The problem right now is there's no time. [We had] 1hr15min practice, where typically we would have a couple hours in practice and those sessions would be split – you get some downtime, a bit of time to look at data. There were 200 or 300 channels of information.

“There's no time to process any of that stuff right now. You're definitely flying by the seat of your pants a little bit. A lot of these races, you're trying to test something to see if it's going to work because you don't have any test sessions.

“At least at the Indy road course you had a warmup to try to get through it. These doubleheaders for the crew and the team are just brutal.”

In the race, three of Dixon’s potential rivals for the win hit trouble. Newgarden stalled, Power had the wrong second gear and there was a fumbled pitstop that gave Dixon the lead, and Rahal also had refueling troubles at his first stop. The five-time champion, for whom this was a second Road America victory, commented: “You try to avoid those issues. We've had them many times as a team. The streak now, we're not necessarily lucky, but everybody has paid attention to detail…

“But it can strike at any point in time… So we'll keep our head down. That's all we can do. I think we've shown as a team in situations of trying to not make mistakes when others do, we've been able to gain from that.”

shares
comments
IndyCar Road America: Dixon scores third straight victory
Previous article

IndyCar Road America: Dixon scores third straight victory

Next article

Power left frustrated by pitstop fumble and gear error

Power left frustrated by pitstop fumble and gear error
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021