LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pocono Raceway is gearing up for the return of the NTT IndyCar Series with this weekend’s ABC Supply 500.
Track President Ben May says he and his staff are excited to play host to America’s premier open wheel series.
“We’re fired-up,” exclaimed May. “Really excited to have the IndyCars in town. The sense of speed is amazing. They’re fast, they’re brave, it’s a really cool event.”
Pocono is the 2.5-mile three-turn track nestled in the Pocono Mountains known as the “Tricky Triangle”. The track was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Roger Ward and each turn is modeled after three historic IndyCar venues.
“This place was built for IndyCars,” said May. “It’s fast, it’s flat, it’s really similar to Indianapolis in that regard. 220-some miles-per-hour, they look light fighter jets out there. It’s amazing.”
The three unique turns make Pocono Raceway distinctly different from Tri-Ovals like Daytona and others. Turn one and it’s 14-degrees of banking is modeled after Trenton Speedway. Turn two and it’s 9-degrees of banking, also known as the “Tunnel Turn”, is modeled after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Turn three and it’s 6-degrees of banking is modeled after the Milwaukee Mile.
“The fact that it was built for IndyCars really lends itself to being some of the best racing we have here at the ‘Tricky Triangle’ each year,” said May.
The track played host to IndyCars (under the USAC and CART Sanctioning bodies) from 1971 to 1989 and returned in 2013 and has played host to IndyCar ever since.
The track offers a number of budget-friendly options for fans to take in America’s premier open-wheel series.
“Really excited about this weekend,” said May. “Kids 12-and-under are free, a family 4-pack of tickets at $125 so a great value, good entertainment. We have a free carnival, free parking, coolers are welcome, so we feel good about what we are doing, and we’re excited to have the stars of IndyCar here.”
In addition to the value the track is offering in regard to tickets, May says racing offers something amazing for everyone that other sports do not.
“When you look at racing and motorsports compared to other sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, the access we offer to the cars and the drivers is unparalleled,” said May. “If you have a paddock pass this weekend you can get down into the garage area and you can get right next to the cars, see them working on the cars the whole weekend and on race day. The access to motorsports is fascinating. For those who haven’t been to a race live, in-person it’s one of the coolest things you will ever do. It’s something you take away, you leave going ‘wow that’s amazing. I can’t believe I was right next to a car before it was going 225 miles-an-hour’, that’s some really cool stuff.”
Fans with the Paddock Pass will quickly find out that race car drivers and crews are different from other athletes when it comes to approachability.
“That’s one of the things that separates motorsports whether it’s NASCAR, IndyCar, Moto GP, or whatever,” said May. “The fans understand that their support of the driver, the sponsor, the products and services the sponsors offer, is what keeps their driver on the track so it’s a little different from a LeBron or a Michael Jordan.”
The track is extremely fan and family-friendly and includes the nearly 6,000-square foot Pocono Mountains Inclusive Playground, which is recognized as a national demonstration site, making it one of the top 100 inclusive playgrounds in the Country!
The Paddock Pass is not the only way Kids and adults can get up-close and personal with the Teams, Crews and Drivers of the NTT IndyCar Series.
“One of the coolest things that IndyCar does as a series is where they have a full-series, full-driver autograph session in the fan zone on race day,” said May. “That’s something that we hope people take advantage of, arrive early and get to see the guys before they hop in the cars a couple of hours later.”
Campers and people who own recreational vehicle can also enjoy the weekend by staying at the track. Pocono’s huge infield is perfect for RV’s and campers.
“Weather is looking solid for this weekend,” said May. “Grab the tent, grab the camper, one last hurrah before the kids go back to school before Labor Day. As it goes people don’t use their vacation days in this country so exercise a few of those days and come check out the ‘Tricky Triangle’. Brittany in our ticket office does an amazing job in explaining the options for camping by calling 1-800-RACEWAY or www.poconoraceway.com.”
A full day of track activity for the IndyCar Series starts on Saturday with a first practice session from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Qualifications follow from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. with a Final practice session from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday’s schedule includes the NTT IndyCar Series Autograph Session in the Firestone Fan Village from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Driver introductions at 2:00 p.m. and The ABC Supply 500 (200 laps) from 2:45 p.m. to approximately 5:45 p.m.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou Wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – In just his first year with the team Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou is your 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion.
Palou’s 4th-place finish in Sunday’s season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach guaranteed the 24-year-old native of Spain his first INDYCAR Championship in his second season and the Ganassi team their 14th title since 1996.
“This team is amazing,” said Palou. “I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. What a race, what a year, what a season.”
“People win Championships,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The driver, the team, and especially the people behind the scenes, leaving the shop in the winter when it’s dark out and snowing, that don’t get the notoriety.”
Palou started the race in tenth position in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. Palou’s closest Championship rival, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, started the race in eighth position. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden started on the pole position with Palou’s CGR teammate Scott Dixon alongside in second place in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
Newgarden took the lead in turn one with Dixon in tow as the field took the green flag. The race wasn’t even 2-laps old when Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones made an ambitious attempt to pass James Hinchcliffe, but made contact with O’Ward with Palou right behind Jones!
📲: INDYCAR APP – https://t.co/vyuISIyifv
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
O’Ward brought out the caution flag a short time later on lap 20 when the right rear driveshaft failed on the front stretch.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
The caution flag shuffled the field as some cars went to pit road for service while other cars stayed out to gain track position, giving the lead to Helio Castroneves, who took a turn at the front of the field until he went to pit road on lap 34, giving the lead to Colton Herta.
Herta earned his turn at the front as he was making moves through the field throughout the race and following the last restart, it was Newgarden and Dixon giving chase. Palou was behind Dixon in fourth doing what he needed to get the car to the checkered flag in one piece.
Herta pulled away in the end to a .5883-second victory, his ?? win of 2021. Newgarden finished second to jump O’Ward for second in the Championship, 38-points behind Palou.
Dixon finished third followed by Palou in fourth. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud rounded out the Top 5.
Alexander Rossi, Jack Harvey, Sebastian Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Will Power made up spots 6 through 10.
Honda claimed the Engine Manufacturer’s Championship for the fourth straight year.
Josef Newgarden wins pole position for INDYCAR Acura Long Beach Grand Prix
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Newgarden’s fast lap of 1-minute, 8.2241-seconds around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit was .2181-seconds faster than Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
The pole position and valuable Championship point is exactly what Newgarden needs to do to win his third series title. Newgarden enters the race in third position in the standings, 48-points behind leader Alex Palou, and must win, lead the most laps and hope Palou finishes 25th or worse.
“It’s very improbable for us to win this championship,” Newgarden said. “So, our goal is to win the race tomorrow. Let’s finish our season on a high note, and we’ll see what happens. I think it’s pretty unlikely, but you never say never in this sport.”
The only other driver with a shot at the Championship is Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who will start eighth in the 28-car field. O’Ward also needs to win and hope for Palou to finish 25th or worse.
“Our car has been good,” said O’Ward. “We didn’t roll off the best, but I think we made some really good changes, just kept improving. We had enough for the Fast 6.”
Palou will start 10th in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Palou and O’Ward were on flying laps when they were forced to slow for a local yellow for Will Power, costing both valuable lap time which eventually cost both the ability to advance to the final round of knockout-style qualifying.
“That yellow flag didn’t help us at all,” said Palou. “I think we were going to be easy through, but racing stuff, right? I’m happy because the car’s good, a bit better than yesterday and this morning.”
“Kind of sucks to get hosed by a very odd call,” added O’Ward. “We should have been in the Fast 6.”
Palou must finish 12th or better – or 13th or better if he leads a lap – to clinch his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship and CGR’s 14th title since 1996!
Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network. A 30-minute warmup starts at noon (ET), live on Peacock Premium.
Colton Herta goes back-to-back at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta won Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey giving him back-to-back victories two decades after his father accomplished the same feat. Herta beat Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by 1.9747-seconds to pick up his second victory of 2021 and fifth of his career.
“Alex, really the whole race, was right there,” said Herta. “Then Grosjean at the end pressured Alex, therefore pressured me. To go two-for-two so far (at Laguna Seca) is great. We were fast all weekend, and I’m glad we could pull it off in the race.”
Palou continued his march towards his first series title with a second place after last week’s win at Portland, which gives Palou and the No. 10 NTT DATA team a 35-point lead ahead of second place Pato O’Ward.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the pace that Colton had,” explained Palou. “I think in reds and blacks he had a bit more. As soon as I tried to catch him, which we tried, I would just cook my tires. Yeah, I couldn’t go as fast as him without losing my tires.”
Palou, O’Ward and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden are the only drivers eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale. Newgarden is third in the standings, 48 points back.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson were eliminated from contention at this race after finishing 13th and sixth, respectively.
“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward said. “I truly feel like we used every single ounce of energy and pace that this car had. We pulled off a near-miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. In the race, honestly, that was as much as I had.
“All we can do at Long Beach is win, and then let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy around a street course, so let’s see what we can pull off next week.”
Herta’s victory clinched the Manufacturers Championship for the fourth consecutive season.