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.”
INDYCAR Adding Nashville Street Race For 2021
NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and The Music City Grand Prix are teaming up to bring an INDYCAR race to the streets of Nashville, Tennessee in 2021.
The Music City Grand Prix will take place from August 6-8, 2021. The 11-turn, 2.17-mile temporary circuit will use Nissan Stadium as the paddock and will race across the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge into Downtown Nashville making the track the first to cross over a major body of water.
“The Tennessee Titans and Nissan Stadium are excited to partner with the Music City Grand Prix to bring the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to Nashville and the stadium campus,” said Burke Nihill, President and CEO of the Tennessee Titans. “This is in keeping with our organizational goal of making our city, this venue and our organization as versatile and as busy as possible.”
“The Music City Grand Prix will be a one-of-a-kind NTT INDYCAR SERIES experience anchored in the heart of Nashville’s action-packed, exhilarating downtown corridor,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “Urban street festivals have become a huge part of our DNA at INDYCAR, and this three-day festival—complete with a course that pushes the limits—will highlight everything Nashville and the sport have to offer, providing international travelers, racing enthusiasts and local thrill-seekers alike with an experience of a lifetime.”
The Music City Grand Prix weekend will feature the best Nashville has to offer, including live music performances by top artists, best-in-class chef-curated food experiences and entertainment that centers on speed in a way only Music City can serve up.
“Nashville is a special place, and the announcement of the Music City Grand Prix truly marks a huge step forward for our community as we look to the future and a return of our thriving and unique entertainment scene,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. “This announcement could not have come at a better time. The event represents a tremendous private investment in the city and a catalyst to our economic recovery.”
Additional information, including the Music City Grand Prix schedules, artist lineup, food experiences and more, will be released at a later date. Visit www.musiccitygp.com to find more details on the event, sign up for Club RPM, a premium VIP experience, or to become a Music City Grand Prix Founder – and receive reserved seating, exclusive discounts and priority purchase opportunities on parking, hotels and more.
Scott Dixon Escapes Mid-Ohio With INDYCAR Points Lead Despite Struggles
LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is sitting on a 72-point lead in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship standings despite an uncharacteristic weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 5-Time Series Champion.
Dixon and CGR were hoping to pad their points lead at a venue where the track President Craig Rust said, “Scott kind of owns this place.” A track where the “Iceman” has 6-wins and the team has 11-wins.
The weekend didn’t unfold that way. Dixon started Race 1 on Saturday in the 17th position after struggling in qualifying. Dixon worked his way up through the field early but couldn’t make up any more ground once he got to the Top 10. Contact at the end of pit road with Colton Herta didn’t help. Dixon finished 10th.
Team Penske’s Will Power won the race and his teammate Josef Newgarden, Dixon’s closest pursuer in the Championship, finished second to gain 20-points in the title fight.
“It’s was just OK for us today in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda,” said Dixon. “It just didn’t play out the way we thought it would. We went with a cautious move and made sure we ran the red tires first based on what we saw in qualifying. I guess looking back maybe we should have gone the other way, but who knows? Then we got caught up with (Colton) Herta on the pit exit, and I’m not sure what happened there or why he slowed up or whatever, but I thought we might have broken the front end after that. I hit him pretty hard, but I guess at the end of the day we made up seven or so spots, and that’s a small win.”
Sunday’s Race 2 looked like the No. 9 team would have a better day. Dixon qualified third and barely missed a first lap accident when Santino Ferrucci, who went off track approaching Turn 4, came back on track right beside the points leader. Ferrucci made contact with his teammate Alex Palou, who made contact with Dixon’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist ending both drivers days.
Dixon settled in behind Herta, who was leading, and remained there through the first round of pit stops. The No. 9 team elected to go with the Black sidewall “primary” Firestone tires while the other front runner elected to go with the faster Red sidewall “alternate” tires, which are initially quicker but do not last as long as the primary tires.
Disaster struck on Lap 22 when Dixon lost control of the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda in turn 1, the fastest corner on the track. Dixon didn’t hit anything but the track remained under green flag conditions dropping him to 20th position.
“We really struggled on the restarts with tire pressures for some reason,” said Dixon. “I had a bunch of guys in front of me on alternate tires and I got too aggressive. I got on the overtake button at the exit of Turn 1 and spun the tires and spun the car. It was just a stupid, rookie mistake and I feel bad for the PNC Bank team.”
SCOTT DIXON SPINS!
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) September 13, 2020
Dixon and his “Wolfpack” Crew put their heads down and went to work, fighting back to a 10th place finish by passing rookie Rinus Veekay on the last lap.
“We managed to fight back until the very end and pick up some spots,” said Dixon, obviously frustrated with the way the day transpired. “We should have never been in that position to begin with.”
Newgarden and the No. 2 PPG Paints Team Penske crew couldn’t take advantage of Dixon’s misfortune and finished only two-spots ahead in 8th place.
“We were just a little too average today,” said Newgarden. “We were just kind of stuck where we were all day, to be honest. We just need to work on getting a little more race pace. I think that’s what we were lacking.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has the next two weekend off before returning with the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix Doubleheader October 2-3 on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Dixon won in July.
Colton Herta Wins Race 2 Of Honda Indy 200 At Mid Ohio
LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Colton Herta led an Andretti Autosport podium sweep after winning Race 2 of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Herta started on the pole position and survived an early altercation with Santino Ferrucci to lead 57 of 75-laps en route to the victory.
“I’m so happy,” said Herta. “We’ve been knocking on the door almost every weekend. We’ve had the pace. But for some reason or another, one thing has gone wrong or this thing has gone wrong. We finally put everything together.”
Andretti’s Alexander Rossi trailed Herta to the finish line by 1.3826 seconds. Fellow Andretti driver Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third in the No. 28 DHL Honda, 2.4965 seconds behind Herta.
“I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael (Andretti),” said Rossi. “It’s been a terrible year for us, kind of globally. So, to do this … hat’s off to Colton (Herta) and the 88 guys to get the win. But then just to sweep the podium.”
“I think all in all, it was a pretty good day considering we started eighth and finished third,” said Hunter-Reay. “It was great to have an all-Andretti podium for the whole team. I think everyone really needed this.”
The last time Andretti Autosport swept the podium was in 2005 at St. Petersburg when Dan Wheldon scored the win and fellow Andretti teammates Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta – Colton Herta’s father – followed to sweep the top four finishing positions for what was known as Andretti Green Racing at the time.
There are three races left in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The next event is the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader Oct. 2-3 on the 2.439-mile IMS road course. The season ends with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, Oct. 25.