LEXINGTON, OHIO (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing rookie driver Felix Rosenqvist gave IndyCar fans a glimpse of his talent the first time he hit the track at the season-opening race at St. Petersburg by posting the fastest time in the first practice session.
Those talents were on full display on Sunday when Rosenqvist nearly beat his five-time IndyCar Series Champion teammate Scott Dixon for the victory at Mid-Ohio. The closest margin of victory, 0.0934-seconds, in the history of IndyCar at the track.
“That last lap, I think everyone really enjoyed that,” said Rosenqvist. “We were banging wheels in Turn 2 there, (it) was a bit exciting.”
“If I wasn’t his teammate, I think he would have knocked me off,” said Dixon. “I knew he was going to come in deep there. I thought he was actually going to just wait to get a good exit off of 2, and ultimately I think had he been a little more patient there, I think he would have got me probably going into 4.”
“I think we have to keep the perspective,” said Rosenqvist. “Had our first podium and also a one-two finish for Chip Ganassi Racing.”
Rosenqvist qualified sixth for the race, two spots in front of his teammate. The young Swede worked his way up to third by lap 15 and passed Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Ross for 2ndplace on lap 19.
Rosenqvist passed leader and pole sitter Will Power on lap 24 and led laps 25-27 before coming in for his first pit stop on lap 28.
Rosenqvist moved back into the lead on lap 41 during the next round of green flag pit stops and led through lap 45 before coming to pit road for his second pit stop of the day.
Dixon inherited the lead at that point until he came to pit road on lap 60, giving the lead back to Rosenqvist, who led laps 60-66.
Rosenqvist made his third and final stop on lap 66 giving the lead back to Dixon, who was on 2-stop strategy.
Rosenqvist came out in second place with a number of lap cars between he and Dixon and was told by his team go for the lead but to keep in mind Dixon is in the championship hunt.
“A bit of a mixed message,” laughed Rosenqvist.
Rosenqvist put the pedal down and cut Dixon’s lead from 9.7-seconds to 2.7-seconds in 15-laps and knows he could’ve got there quicker if not for lap traffic holding him up.
“With those five cars in front of us it was going to be difficult, and I was really frustrated on the radio,” said Rosenqvist. “Barry (Wanser), my strategist, tried to really keep me calm and (we) tried to pick them off one by one. I think it’s a little bit of a shame because maybe at times we were missing out on a good battle when you had to race cars that were going for P24.”
Rosenqvist finally got to Dixon on the last lap and the two touched in Turn 2 but the veteran prevailed, and the team brought home their first 1-2 finish since 2015 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Obviously it’s tough when I think we really had the right strategy and the pace to win the race,” said Rosenqvist. “Maybe one more lap we could have got him.”
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.