Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing

A boisterous crowd brought the energy for Miller Lite Carb Day on Friday as drivers and teams made final preparations for this weekend's 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

The highlight was undoubtedly the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge, which put 16 teams of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in a knockout tournament. In the end, it was the pit crew of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda driven by Scott Dixon that came out with a thrilling victory and a $50,000 prize. The crew also earned rings from Jostens and boxes of meat from Good Ranchers, among other prizes.

The final proved to be one of the ages as two of the best in the business faced off as Dixon and Co. bested the crew of Will Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in a best-of-three final. Dixon pulled an 11.561-second opening run from the right lane, before Power fought back with an 11.829-second performance after swapping lanes for the following run. Then, with Dixon remaining in the left lane, he and his crew ripped off a staggering 11.012-second run – fastest of the day – against Power’s 12.552-second effort to claim the third run and the final, along with bragging rights.

“It's huge for the team,” Dixon said. “It just shows what everybody does at Chip Ganassi Racing, and it takes a team to win, and I have the best team.

“We'll be giving it all Sunday, but obviously all the credit goes to everyone up here today. I just tried not to screw it up. Congrats, boys. That was fantastic.”

The result marked a fourth win in the pit stop competition for both Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing. Additionally, it was a bit of revenge after losing in last year’s final at the hands of Josef Newgarden’s No. 2 Team Penske squad.

“Always sweet revenge,” said Tyler Rees, crew chief and right front tire changer for Dixon’s crew known as the “Wolf Pack.”

“Super sweet,” followed Isaac Townsend, the left front tire changer.

“Yeah, it's a super proud moment,” Rees said. “We all work hard, and it's a lot of pressure out there. For everybody to get it done and especially going against Penske in the final round, they're the guys to beat.”

There was a total of $150,000 purse to the competitors, including $25,000 to Power’s pit crew that finished runner-up.

Heath “Keto” Kosik, responsible for the air jack, said: “I think it's cool that we beat Penske because they always say to be the best, you've got to beat the best, and they've been the benchmark for a long time, and today we kicked their ass. It's pretty cool.”

Dixon’s path to the final went through Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott (first round), followed by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard (second round), and then Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist (semifinal).

Meanwhile, Power singlehandedly knocked out Dreyer & Reinbold, dismantling Graham Rahal’s respectable time of 12.717 seconds with his own 12.544-second time in the first round. Then, Power and his crew went through Ryan Hunter-Reay in the second round. Power then knocked out Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Jack Harvey in the semifinal to advance to the showdown against Dixon.

There were only three wins from the right lane, including Dixon and Power pulling one each against each other. Harvey, driving the No. 30 PeopleReady Honda, was the first to accomplish a right-lane win, doing so in the second round against Rinus VeeKay’s No. 21 Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing.

Odds & Ends

  • Abel Motorsports chief mechanic Greg Senerius won the Clint Brawner Award, presented annually for mechanical excellence at the Indianapolis 500. Senerius leads the crew for the No. 50 Abel Motorsports Chevrolet driven by rookie RC Enerson, who qualified 28th for the team’s first Indianapolis 500 start. Senerius earned a $5,000 award from Firestone Racing, and his name will be placed on the permanent plaque of Brawner Award winners in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
  • Paul “Ziggy” Harcus, longtime and retiring mechanic and team manager of Andretti Autosport, was the recipient of the Robin Miller Award. Following Miller, Harcus joins a group of recipients that includes announcer Bob Jenkins, Chevrolet PR rep Judy Dominick and Honda communications executive T.E. McHale.
  • Callum Ilott’s switch to a backup car ahead of qualifying last week has also limited getting the machine into the ideal race trim configuration. As such, don’t expect his No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet to be overly aggressive at the start of Sunday’s 500-mile race: “Starting P27, obviously there is a rush to get further forward, but you're not going to make ground that quickly, and I think there's no reason to take unnecessary risk from that position. But yeah, honestly, probably through the race I'll be working to tune the car with what we can and go from there.”
  • Graham Rahal knows the history of the No. 24 DRR Cusick CareKeppers Chevrolet he’ll drive while substituting for the injured Stefan Wilson on Sunday: “Yeah, it has done well. I was joking earlier, though, I've had like 10 drivers come up and tell me they drove this chassis, so she's been used up a little bit. But the truth is the same at RLL (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing). We've got chassis (number) 23 running around out here. I think I won Mid-Ohio (Sports Car Course) in 2015 in that car, and that thing's been running around for a million years. Once you get a good one, it's good. And it's a little bit different, I think, from what I'm understanding, just on its strength and stuff like that, but there's no issues at all with it. I think the guys have done an amazing job to prep that thing in a short period of time.”
  • Colton Herta, who will start 21st in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti Autosport, is taking a methodical approach to moving up the field at the drop of the green flag Sunday. He said: “I don't want to force anything, but I want to kind of pick and choose. You don't really get too many opportunities to pick and choose from back there, so you do have to get a little bit aggressive on starts and restarts. And really the most opportunity we'll have is from hopefully saving fuel and either undercutting or overcut guys when the time comes.”
  • Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins was among the fans on hand to take in final practice on Miller Lite Carb Day.
  • Ahead of his first-ever Indy 500 start, Sting Ray Robb is already trying to contain the emotions of a lifelong dream realized. Robb said: “It's just another race. That's what I keep telling myself, but I don't feel like that's 100 percent true. This is a lifelong opportunity. Something that we've worked for a long time, not just by myself but the crew around me; my parents, my grandparents, my family, my partners. I don't know when the emotions will set in, but I hope it's not just before I get in the car. Hopefully, it's a little bit ahead of time to have some time to settle up ahead of time putting that helmet on, but I'm excited.”
  • Alexander Rossi tabbed Arrow McLaren teammate Pato O’Ward as the driver in the sweet spot this year: “Yeah, I think the No. 5 car is probably the car to beat. He’s been fantastic all year, but his previous results at the ‘500’ have been pretty fantastic. I think we’ve all been happy with our cars for the entire month, and in traffic he certainly looks very good.”