LEXINGTON, OHIO (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A good start to the Honda 200 weekend at Mid-Ohio for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Five-time IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon turned the fastest lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda during the first practice this morning.
Dixon’s fast lap of 1-minute, 06.973-seconds was quicker than Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot (-0.1482-seconds), who was second and Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud (-0.1692-seconds) who was third fastest.
Dixon is the all-time winningest IndyCar driver at Mid-Ohio with five wins (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014).
“It’s a track that really feels like home to me,” said Dixon. “I’ve said over the years that it’s a rhythm track, and it’s very technical.”
Chip Ganassi Racing has won 10-times on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn, natural terrain road course with Alex Zanardi (1996 & 1997), Juan Pablo Montoya (1999), Dixon, Dario Franchitti (2010) and Charlie Kimball (2013) capturing checkered flags.
“Mid-Ohio is a place that we as a team have always felt that all of our cars have a shot at winning, and there aren’t many tracks out there where your confidence level is that high as a team,” said Dixon. “You have to get a lot of things right to go to victory lane there.”
Dixon is coming off consecutive 2nd place finishes in the last two races (Toronto & Iowa) but hasn’t been able to make-up ground on points leader Josef Newgarden, who he trails by 98-points.
“We need a big finish for the championship with five to go starting this weekend in the PNC Bank car,” said Dixon. “Mid-Ohio would be a great place to start a run of strong results.”
Dixon’s teammate, rookie Felix Rosenqvist, will be sporting a new look this weekend on the No. 10 Honda as Clover will be the primary sponsor at Mid-Ohio.
Clover is a customized point-of-sale system for business including retail, restaurant and service businesses.
Mid-Ohio is one of the few tracks the Rosenqvist has had a chance to drive an IndyCar prior to racing there.
“This is the track where I sort of got my introduction to the team, I guess you could say,” said Rosenqvist. “I’ve tested a few times in Scott’s car over the years before coming to IndyCar full time. It’s a track I’m familiar with and one I think we should be able to compete at and get a good result.”
Rosenqvist is locked into a battle for the “Rookie-of-the-Year” award with Arrow Schmidt Petersen Motorsports Marcus Ericsson, Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta and Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci.
“The IndyCar Rookie of the Year race is tight, and we want to continue to lead that,” said Rosenqvist. “Starting toward the front at Mid-Ohio is key for the race as well as for track position, so qualifying is very important this weekend. I’m looking forward to getting going.”
Three rounds of knockout-style qualifying takes place Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised by NBCSN and can be heard on the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.
There is a warm-up Sunday from Noon to 12:30 p.m. ET with the race at 4:05 p.m. on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network.
INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension
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.
“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.
Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship
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.”
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.”
Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio
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.
“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.