LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – This past Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway could be the last visit to the “Tricky Triangle” for the NTT IndyCar Series. The IndyCar Series does not have an agreement to return to Pocono in 2020.
The hot rumor circulating around the garage area and paddock is that the race is going to be replaced on the schedule by Richmond Raceway.
The last few years the IndyCars have raced at Pocono have resulted in accidents and tragedy. In 2015 Justin Wilson was struck in the helmet by a piece of debris from the car of Sage Karam, who had crashed. Wilson died as a result of his injuries.
In 2018 Arrow Schmidt Petersen Motorsports Robert Wickens was left paralyzed after a first lap multi-vehicle crash.
This past Sunday, on the first lap, there was multi-car crash involving Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport teammates: Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Arrow Schmidt Petersen’s James Hinchcliffe and NTT Data Services Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist. Rosenqvist was taken to a local hospital, checked out, released and cleared to drive in the next race at Gateway.
The outrage on Social Media was quick and included Wickens and Karam.
How many times do we have to go through the same situation before we can all accept that an IndyCar should not race at Pocono. It’s just a toxic relationship and maybe it’s time to consider a divorce. I’m very relieved (to my knowledge) that everyone is okay from that scary crash
— Robert Wickens (@robertwickens) August 18, 2019
I don’t want people to think that I dislike pocono. I think it’s a great track it’s just not meant for indycars. We need to be smart and move on and go to tracks that fit these cars. I love oval racing and want it in Indycar I just simply don’t love Indycar at pocono.
— Sage Karam (@SageKaram) August 18, 2019
All three drivers that finished on the podium, who are also Series Champions, came to the track’s defense and placed some of the blame on the competitors.
“Honestly I feel bad for Pocono…” said Five-time Series Champion Scott Dixon. “Some mistakes that have happened on track, honestly they could happen anywhere. If you look at Justin or Robby, those can happen anywhere. I feel bad that it gets a bit of a bad taste in that scenario. I think the drivers in a lot of situations can do a better job to help that situation. Honestly, I hope we come back.”
Race-winner Will Power echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a great oval for us,” said Power. “Obviously some unfortunate accidents here, like Scott said, that could happen anywhere. (Pocono) Kind of got a bad rap for that.”
Pocono Raceway was designed in 1959 and each turn was designed after three classic IndyCar venues. Turn 1 is a copy of the now-defunct Trenton Speedway. Turn 2 is designed after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Turn 3 is designed after The Milwaukee Mile.
Hinchcliffe felt the accident could have been avoided with a little common sense.
“We were heading into turn two kind of three wide, I knew that wasn’t a good idea, so I backed out,” said Hinchcliffe. “500-mile race man, I don’t know how many times we have to do this before people figure out you can attack all you want, it doesn’t give a change to win if you’re in the fence.”
Hunter-Reay was equally frustrated by getting taken out on the first lap for the second year in a row.
“This is ridiculous,” said Hunter-Reay. “I thought we learned our lesson here. Lap one of a 500-mile race. I had a nice clean run on Rossi, almost three-quarters of the way up past him and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m backwards.
Power and Dixon hope to return to the track because they were seeing some positive signs.
“I felt the crowd today at the start of the race was fantastic,” said Dixon. “It was gaining some really good momentum. Hopefully it gets to continue.”
“It’s a great oval for us,” Power said. “The crowd us up 15-percent every year we come back. It’s getting better. The crowd was great today. It’s a good racetrack, man. A good track for racing. I really hope we come back. I think the guys do a great job. A cool track for us. It’s hard for us to find good ovals these days that suit our cars.”
Pagenaud believes having a race in the Northeastern United States is key and also hopes the race continues.
It’s a fun track to drive on,” said Pagneaud. “It would be really unfortunate, because it’s close to New York, a great market for IndyCar. It’s an opportunity to bring people from New York to the IndyCar races. Hopefully we can come back and hopefully we can keep working with the people at Pocono because it’s been a lot of fun. As a driver, I really enjoy coming here.”
Racing Notebook – Ohio Racing Gets Red Flagged; New Series from Stewart and Evernham plus Weekend Winner Recap
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Monday’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has details on new restrictions placed on events in Ohio plus Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are teaming up to start a new series and we look back at the winners on track this past weekend.
New Restrictions On Events In Ohio:
- The Ohio Department of Health has mandated activities to be limited in the state of Ohio due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions are forcing Sharon Speedway to cancel this Saturday’s events, including the RUSH Late Model Series “Bill Forney Memorial”. Sharon Speedway plans on resuming their 2020 schedule of events when the restrictions are lifted.
Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham Starting New Series:
- NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are teaming up to start a new racing series. The Sports Business Journal first reported the deal, which includes former NASCAR executive George Pyne and sports agent Sandy Montag. The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) will feature six races on short tracks and will include top drivers from a variety of backgrounds. The SRX will be similar in scope the defunct IROC Series and is set to debut in 2021 and will be televised by CBS Sports.
Cole Custer Gets 1st Career Cup Win At Kentucky:
- Stewart Haas Racing’s Cole Custer picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory Sunday at Kentucky Speedway winning a thrilling battle on the last lap with saw Custer four-wide with Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Blaney. Truex held on for second and Matt DiBenedetto finished third.
One of the wildest late-lap battles for the lead in recent memory! 🤩
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 12, 2020
Chip Ganassi Racing Sweeps Road America:
- NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist passed Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward with 2-laps remaining to win Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America to pick up his first career INDYCAR win. The victory was the fourth straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES win for Chip Ganassi Racing. Scott Dixon led the weekend sweep by parking the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda in Victory Lane after winning Race 1 on Saturday.
Larson and Conley Take Sharon Speedway wins:
- Sharon Speedway played host to the Ollies Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions this past weekend. Cale Conley picked up the victory in Saturday’s “Lou Blaney Memorial”. Kyle Larson took the victory in Sunday’s “Justin Snyder’s Salute To The Troops.“
Saturday Winners At Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway:
- Chas Wolbert picked up his second straight win taking the RUSH Sportsman Modified 15-lap main event. Keith Barbara picked up his first win of the season in the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series 20-lap feature. Jason Fosnaught was victorious in the PPMS Pro Stock division. Stephen Shelpman continued to dominate the Keystone Coach Works Hobby Stock division with another victory. Philip and Noah Bubeck were each victorious in the Four Cylinder and Young Guns divisions respectively.
Saturday Winners At Jennerstown Speedway:
- Defending Track Champion, Teddy Gibala won for the first time this season in the Martella’s Pharmacies Late Model division of racing, becoming the fourth different winner in four events. Also celebrating in Stoney’s Beer Victory Lane were R.J. Dallape (Stoystown Auto Wreckers Modifieds), Aaron Van Fleet (Ron’s Collision Center Street Stocks), Dale Kimberly (Farmers Union Co-Op Chargers), and Evan Nibert (Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinders).
Matt Kenseth’s New Colors For All-Star Race:
- Wednesday’s NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race at Bristol Motor Speedway is going to feature a different style paint scheme that fans are not used to seeing on race cars. The number and some sponsor placement is moving. Here is a look at the McDonald’s Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 of Matt Kenseth:
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) July 13, 2020
Felix Rosenqvist Wins First INDYCAR Race At Road America As Chip Ganassi Racing Sweeps The Weekend
ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist passed Pato O’Ward on the second to the last lap to grab his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES win Sunday in race two of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America.
“It feels so good,” said Rosenqvist. “It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times. This race was for my No. 10 car crew, the NTT DATA crew.”
Rosenqvist was trailing O’Ward by over 5-seconds following the final set of pit stops but made up that gap over the final 13-laps to grab the win.
“We had so much pace,” said Rosenqvist. “We kept closing in half a second every lap. And then when they said Pato (O’Ward) was on the used reds (Firestone alternate tires), you obviously get a lot of faith that he might drop off in the end, and that’s what happened. I’m really proud to be powered by HPD and Honda this year. It’s been really good.”
The victory was Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth straight INDYCAR Series win to open the 2020 season and also gave CGR the weekend sweep following Scott Dixon’s win on Saturday in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.
“First off, huge congrats to Felix (Rosenqvist) for that drive,” said Dixon. “I’m so happy for him and NTT DATA. It’s another win for them at Road America. We all knew this moment was coming for Felix, and it was just a matter of time. What a start for CGR and Honda, though. Four-for-four on the season.”
“It’s four out of four for Ganassi, which is huge,” said Rosenqvist. “What amazing feeling. I’m so glad we had the John McCain tribute on the car, and to be able to do this for NTT DATA and the family really means a lot to us at the team.”
McCain is the late former Chairman and CEO of NTT DATA SERVICES who passed away in February after a battle with glioblastoma.
O’Ward held on for second place as his tires were wearing out and he was trying to save fuel to make it to the end.
“It was really tough,” said O’Ward. “The Ganassi cars and Felix (Rosenqvist) had a lot of pace. We did a really good job managing the whole race. I gave it every single little bit that I had. I was pushing, pushing, pushing but I couldn’t keep Felix behind me.”
Alexander Rossi’s nightmarish start to the 2020 season was tempered by a third place finish at Road America.
“After the last couple races, it’s good to finish on the lead lap,” said Rossi.
The newest member of the Ganassi team, Marcus Ericsson, came home fourth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda. Ericsson passed the most cars on the day, gaining 12-spots from his 16th starting position.
“It was a great race, and I feel we got a great result for the guys and Huski Chocolate,” said Ericsson. “We had a ton of pace and a lot of great overtakes. Honda and HPD power was fantastic, and we really had a great car.”
Dixon had an uncharacteristic finish of 12th. Dixon started sixth and survived mayhem at the start when Will Power tagged Ryan Hunter Reay going into turn one and then tagged Graham Rahal in Turn 3, ending both of their days.
“Not the day we wanted with the PNC Bank car, but we fought balance and the rear tires just kept going away,” said Dixon. I guess you can’t win them all, but we sure tried to with the start to the season we’ve had.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES moves on to Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader on Friday and Saturday night.
PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon Wins 3rd INDYCAR Race In-A-Row
ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won his third straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES race Saturday at Road America, holding off Team Penske’s Will Power on a couple of late restarts to grab the victory.
“I don’t know how that happened,” said Dixon in Victory Lane. “Huge thank you to everybody on the PNC Bank team. The car was really hard to drive this morning but we dialed it in a little better during the race. That was awesome man”.
“It was a good drive,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “We didn’t start exactly where we wanted to today but he persevered.”
Dixon’s crew made a crucial decision during the second round of pit stops to call Dixon in early while he was stuck in traffic running sixth.
Dixon came out of the pits ahead of the traffic alongside a hard-charging Power, who pitted a lap before the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda. While Dixon and Power were battling it out, the leader of the race Josef Newgarden came to pit road.
Disaster stuck for Newgarden when he stalled the car on pit road. Team Penske got the PPG Chevy restarted and the defending series Champion returned to the field in 15th position.
The pit-stop cycle shuffled the running order and Power and Dixon found themselves at the front of the pack followed by Santino Ferrucci in the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Honda.
“We came out of the pits they’re (the team) like ‘you and Power first and second’ and I was like ‘how?'” marveled Dixon.
The trio had a 5-second lead on fourth place Ryan Hunter-Reay with 20-laps left in the 55-lap event. Three laps later the caution flag came out for this week’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast guest Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing. Harvey suffered brake failure, sending the No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM Honda into the gravel trap.
“I went into the corner at Turn Three and my brakes locked up and the wheels spun,” said Harvey. “There wasn’t much I could do when the brakes failed in that way. All year we’ve had a fast car and that is what is frustrating because this was a weekend that we could have had a top five. Something randomly happened that took us out of contention which is greatly disappointing for myself and the whole Meyer Shank Racing team. I know that we have the speed and these guys will work hard to figure out exactly what went wrong so that we can come back equally as strong tomorrow.”
Dixon’s “Wolfpack” crew executed a flawless pit stop under caution giving the 5-time series Champion the lead off pit road ahead of Power.
Dixon took the ensuing green flag with 14-laps-to-go and held off Power going into Turn 1 but before the lap was even complete, the caution was back out when Conor Daly was sent off the track by contact with Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward as the pair went into Turn 7.
“It really hard to go 2-wide through there but I had enough of a run you’ve got to take a chance,” said Daly. “I don’t really race with him that much but it was tough there, that’s probably on both of us.”
The subsequent restart saw Dixon get away from Power but the yellow came out again when rookie A.J. Foyt Racing driver Dalton Kellett ended up in the gravel in Turn 14.
The green flag came back out with 8-laps to go and Dixon beat Power into Turn 1 and rookie Alex Palou beat Hunter-Reay to get third place.
Dixon built a lead of 1.2-seconds in one lap, 1.6-seconds in two laps and maintained that lead with 5-laps to go. Dixon extended the lead to 1.8-seconds with 4-laps to go, 2.3-seconds with three laps to go and 2.5-seconds with one lap to go.
The win was Dixon’s 49th career win leaving him three shy of INDYCAR legend Mario Andretti for 2nd place on the all-time wins list. The victory marks the 2nd time Dixon has won three races in a row. The first time was in 2013 when Dixon won Pocono and both Toronto races.
“It’s not me man,” said Dixon. “The team does such an amazing job to cover all the bases. We’re in the business of winning so we’ve got to win. Proud of everybody on this team and obviously our partners like PNC Bank and Honda. It’s really cool to win today.”
Dixon goes into tomorrow’s second race at Road America with a 62-point lead over Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the INDYCAR Championship standing.
Dixon will look to make it four-straight wins to start the NTT INDYCAR SERIES tomorrow in Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader at noon (ET, NBC) from Road America.