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IndyCar Championship Fight Continues This Weekend At Portland International Raceway

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Stephen King/IndyCar Series

PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Two races remain in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series schedule beginning with this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato is coming off a win in the Series last race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.  Sato is also the defending winner of the Grand Prix of Portland after winning there in 2018.

“It’s great to go back to Portland as the defending winner and also after having won in St. Louis,” said Sato.  “The fans waited a long time for the return of IndyCar racing and I’m really honored to be the first winner for the new generation of races there.  That was also the first win for me with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing so there are a lot of great memories and happy moments.”

Sato’s victory was the highlight of the day for RLL as Sato’s teammate Graham Rahal was an innocent victim of a first lap crash that took him out of the race.

“I love going to Portland, it’s a great race,” said Rahal.  “Last year was not what we hoped for, we were pretty competitive last year, and I expect us to be pretty competitive again this year.”

Rahal said the picturesque 1.964-mile permanent road course is not like most road courses where if you make a mistake you can recover.

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In 2018 there was a huge accident on the first lap coming exiting turn three that saw Marco Andretti go up and over a couple of cars.

Marco Andretti Goes Airborne During Multi-vehicle Crash In Turn 3 At Portland International Raceway. (Photo:Chris Owens/IndyCar Series)

“There is no margin for error to go fast there,” said Rahal.  “Like all tracks, you’ve got to push it to the limit to get the most out of a lap, but there is a very fine line there between what is good and what is not at Portland.  And there is not a lot of runoffs so the moment you drop a wheel, you’re really in the grass whereas a lot of other places have a little bit of margin.”

Josef Newgarden comes into the event as the points-leader with his Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud in second place, 38-points behind.  Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi is in third place, 46-points behind Newgarden.  PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, the five-time and defending series champion, sits in fourth place 70-points out of the top spot.

“We were able to maintain the points lead in Gateway, and that was a huge deal for us,” said Newgarden. “Now we focus on Portland.  It’s a technical road course, so we’re really going to have to make sure we hit our marks to make sure we don’t lose any ground.”

Portland is shaping up to be a super-exciting weekend,” said Pagenaud.  “This is the part of the season that I love the most. It is down to the wire exciting racing and competing at our highest level. It’s time to shine.”

“Our mindset has changed a bit from being conservative on our strategy to putting it all out there,” said Rossi.  “We have to get another win in order to head into the season finale with a fighting chance for the Astor Cup. We were very strong last year at Portland and could have potentially won, but an untimely yellow caught us out.”

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IndyCar

INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension

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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.

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“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.

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Dirt Racing

Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship

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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.”

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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.”

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IndyCar

Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio

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Joe Skibinski

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.

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“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.

INDYCAR Mid Ohio Results

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