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NTT IndyCar Series Coming To Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course This Weekend

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Chris Jones/IndyCar Series

LEXINGTON, OHIO (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT IndyCar Series is racing this weekend at The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Mid-Ohio is the closest track the NTT IndyCar Series gets to Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, just a 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Downtown.

This will be the 35th IndyCar race held at Mid-Ohio.  Alexander Rossi is the defending race winner.

“We’ve been hosting this event for a number of years,” Mid-Ohio President Craig Rust told Pittsburgh Racing Now.  “It’s a staple on the NTT IndyCar Series and it’s always a great event here.  We’re excited about it.”

The IndyCar race is not the only event being held at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road course.

“We’re running Indy Lights over the three days,” said Rust.  “We also have Indy Pro 2000, USF 2000 and basically they’re feeder series.  A lot of the drivers you see today in the IndyCar Series started in the feeder series.”

In addition to the “Road to Indy” feeder series, you’re going to see some trucks this weekend at Mid-Ohio.

“We also have something new this year, Robbie Gordon’s Stadium SUPER Trucks,” said Rust.  “This is something brand new for us.  We have not run them here before, but they put on a great show.  We’re excited to add them to the schedule.”

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If you’re interested in spending the weekend at the track, tent and motorhome camping is available but take your party decorations with you.

“We do a promotion every year with Honda, where it’s actually a contest to decorate your motorhome,” said Rust.  “The drivers go around and act as judges.  This year it’s ‘family gras’, kind of like a family mardi gras theme.  We change that theme every year.”

Last year’s “Pirate” theme would have hit close to home for Pittsburghers.

Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey visits with several campers at their Pirate theme campsite at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2018

The family atmosphere is a big part of the Mid-Ohio weekend and it also friendly to the budget as kids 12 & under get in for free all weekend.  There is an autograph session on Friday and another way to get up-close and personal with the teams and drivers.

“I suggest people purchase a Paddock Pass,” said Rust.  “That gets you inside the Paddock where the teams work on the cars.  It really is one of the motorsports series that is very accessible to the fans, so it is really a fun thing to do.  If you want to spend time with the family, 12 & Under are free and they also can get into the paddock area, so it really is a family event.”

Rust encourages all fans to get their tickets and especially their camping early because camping is subject to sell out.  The easiest way to take care of that is by going onto the track website, www.midohio.com, or by calling 419-884-4000.  You can also view the complete on track schedule and fan activities on the website.

“We get huge crowds for the Honda Indy 200,” said Rust.  “People start coming in Thursday afternoon and getting parked so they’re ready to go Friday morning.  Over the three days there’s basically something on track at all times.  We’d love for the Pittsburgh area sports fans to take the drive over whether it’s for the weekend, a day or for Sunday’s main event.”

IndyCar

INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NBC Network announced on Tuesday a multi-year extension to the media rights of the open wheel series.

NBC Sports will continue to be the exclusive home of the Indianapolis 500 and will provide coverage of all NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, qualifying, practices and Indy Lights races across its linear, digital and streaming platforms, including Peacock. Terms of the deal were not announced.

“NBC Sports is proud to extend its partnership with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and continue to serve as the exclusive home of the most competitive open-wheel racing series in the world and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Jon Miller, NBC Sports.

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“NBC Sports has been the ideal partner for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, bringing our bold and audacious style of racing to a significantly larger domestic audience and fully leveraging the power and scale of the Indianapolis 500,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “This new deal represents a significant expansion of our network TV exposure and sets us up for continued growth and success alongside a committed, innovative and world-class broadcast partner.”

INDYCAR and NBC are enjoying strong ratings for the 2021.  Ratings are up 30% this year.

As part of the agreement, 13 races will be broadcast on NBC. USA Network and Peacock Premium will show the remaining races. Telemundo Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage of the season-opening race, the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale.

Peacock will stream all races on NBC and USA Network and will continue as the streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying and practices sessions, Indy Lights races and full-event replays. Peacock will stream two races exclusively, which will be announced at a later date.

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Dirt Racing

Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship

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NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott joined the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) for their season finale at Nashville Fairgrounds and took home the checkered flag beating Tony Stewart and his father Bill Elliott in the feature.  The win was the first series victory for the younger Elliott.

Chase Elliott was on the inside with Stewart on the outside on a restart with 7-laps-to-go followed by Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte in Row 2.

Chase Elliott beat Stewart into turn one and two with Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte side-by-side for third.

Caution came out with 5-laps-to-go when Paul Tracy made contact with Marco Andretti, sending Andretti into a spin after picking up three spots following the restart.

Chase Elliott got the jump on Stewart on the restart and held on to pick up the win. Stewart finished second and took home the inaugural series Championship.

“Man it was so much fun,” said Chase Elliott.  “I had a ball.  I got to race against two of my heroes tonight and I got to race against Dad there throughout the race and those are moments that I’ll cherish forever.  Thanks to Ray (Evernham, Series co-owner) and Tony (Stewart, Series co-owner) and I appreciate NAPA being on the car.”

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NASCAR Hall-of-famer Bill Elliott, 65, finished third and picked up a win in the first heat race where he started side-by-side with his son Chase.

“I messed up in one not getting all the stuff (marbles) off my tires,” said Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup Series Champion.  “Man I tell you it was a lot of fun. I knew the way the tires were on these cars and the way Chase manages his stuff he was going to be tough to beat.”

“I don’t know what lit a fire under him tonight,” said Chase Elliott.  “But he was as aggressive as I have seen him in years.  It was amazing and a lot of fun.  I thought it was going to be between he and I but he got a little high going into (turn) one.”

The win was also special for the Elliott Family as they were able to park the No. 94 in Victory Lane.  Casey Elliott, the late son of legendary engine builder Ernie Elliott, raced the No. 94 in the ARCA and Busch (now Xfinity) Series before his life was cut short by cancer.

“Obviously a special number too,” said Chase Elliott.  “My late Cousin Casey Elliott ran the 94 for years and years and it’s always special to run that number and I’m glad we were able to get it in Victory Lane at Nashville.”

“How could you ask for more than to finish between two Elliott’s, that’s pretty bad-ass in itself,” said Stewart. “To win this Championship is awesome.  I really appreciate Marcus Lemonis and everyone at Camping World for stepping up and helping us get this thing off the ground.  To be the last guy to win an IROC Championship and the first one to win an SRX Championship means a lot.”

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IndyCar

Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio

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Joe Skibinski

LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden picked up his, and Team Penske’s, first win of 2021 holding off Marcus Ericsson to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Newgarden started on the pole position and led 73-of-80-laps to pick up his first win since the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“This team has been doing the job,” said Newgarden. “Everyone has been giving me a hard time, asking what’s up with us not winning a race. But I don’t think these people at Team Penske could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race, had great performance. It’s great to seal a win here finally.”

Newgarden spoiled a tremendous afternoon for Chip Ganassi Racing, the winningest INDYCAR team at Mid-Ohio.

CGR’s Ericsson finished second, 0.8790-seconds behind Newgarden.  The second place finish was Ericsson’s seventh top-10 finish of 2021.

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“We were hunting him down there,” said Ericsson. “He (Newgarden) was really struggling with his tires the last five laps. Just catching him quickly. Another lap or two would be even better, but I’ll take second today.”

Ericsson’s CGR teammate Alex Palou and Scott Dixon finished third and fourth respectively to give Chip Ganassi three cars in the top 5.

“It’s always good to start P7 and you finish on the podium,” said Palou. “Yeah, I think today was a good result.”

“I think it was a great day, great day for the team, to have me, Alex and Scott, P2, P3 and P4,” said Ericsson. “It’s a strong result. Shows how strong we are at the moment”

Palou remains the Championship points leader, 39 points ahead of Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP. Dixon is third, 56 points behind Palou. Newgarden remained fourth, 69 points back of the leader, and Ericsson jumped three positions to take fifth in the standings, 104 points behind Palou.

INDYCAR Mid Ohio Results

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