INDIANAPOLIS – Chip Ganassi Racing and Scott Dixon will look to buck recent history after winning the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge on Friday during Miller Lite Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The last team and driver to win the annual pit stop competition and then capture the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil two days later were Team Penske and Helio Castroneves in 2009.
Ganassi’s crew earned $50,000 from the $100,000 purse for its victory in the best-of-three final against James Hinchcliffe and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew. The Ganassi team won the first and third rounds in the best-of-three finale to clinch the third victory in the Pit Stop Challenge for the team, adding to its wins in 2012 and 2014, both with Dixon.
“I think every pit stop is about the same amount of pressure,” said Blair Julian, Chip Ganassi Racing chief mechanic on Dixon’s car. “Obviously the last one is sort of ramped up a little bit. I think we've all been doing it enough time we can do it. Try to make it clean and get out.”
In the third leg of the final round, Dixon and the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda crew changed four tires and completed a simulated fuel hose connection in 11.943 seconds. Hinchcliffe and the No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda crew trailed at 12.495 seconds, earning $15,000 for the runner-up finish.
The victory by Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing ended a three-year winning streak by Team Penske, which has won a record 17 Pit Stop Challenge titles.
“I think the biggest thing for the drivers is just try not to screw it up for these guys,” Dixon said. “A lot on the line, this team and many others work very hard on these pit stops. For me, I'm able to get the benefits in the race throughout all these weekends that we come across during the season. They put in a big effort. They're a hugely talented crew, work effortlessly throughout the season.”
Five teams qualified for the Pit Stop Challenge based on their recorded pit stop times since the 101st Indianapolis 500 last May. Four additional entries came from Indy 500-only entrants or the next-highest-ranked entrant of full-time Verizon IndyCar Series teams.
The first round, quarterfinals and semifinals consisted of single-elimination rounds, while the final was best-of-three.
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Dixon advanced to the final as the No. 2 seed. He and his crew won an intra-team battle in the quarterfinals against teammate Ed Jones and his No. 10 NTT DATA Honda crew before eliminating 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi and his Andretti Autosport No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda crew in the semifinals.
Third-seeded Hinchcliffe, who failed to qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500, also won an intra-team duel against rookie teammate Robert Wickens and his No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda crew in the quarterfinals. Hinchcliffe then eliminated Team Penske’s chance of a four-peat by beating Will Power and his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet crew in the semifinals despite Power having lane choice.