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Takuma Sato And Honda Returning to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing For 2020 Season

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Chris Jones/IndyCar Series

MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is brining Takuma Sato back for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Season after exercising their option on the veteran driver.

Three of Sato’s five career IndyCar Series victories have come with the team, including the Bommarito 500 at World Wide Technology 500 at Gateway.  Sato also won from pole in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, claimed the pole for the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway and third-place podium finishes at the Indianapolis 500 and Race 1 in Detroit.

“We have been very pleased with the results and level of competition Takuma has shown this season,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “His two wins and two poles don’t fully indicate how competitive he has been overall this season and the fact that he was a contender at many other races. He is an integral part of our team which I believe we have shown. This decision allows us to keep the continuity and continue to build upon our program for 2020.”

Sato drove for RLL in 2012 and returned in 2018.  2020 will be Sato’s third consecutive season with the team.

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“I am very happy to continue our path together again after this season,” said Sato, a native of Tokyo, Japan.  “Every single member of the team is extremely loyal and have given me unbelievable support. I truly feel at home here and I am so proud of the team. We have had another great season this year and even had some tough times but it only made our relationship stronger. I can’t thank Bobby, Mike, David and the entire team enough and I am looking forward to finishing the season strong and also looking forward to 2020.”

In addition to retaining Sato for 2020, RLL announced that Honda will continue to power the team in 2020 and beyond with a multi-year deal.  RLL has earned 12 wins, 13 poles and 81 top-five finishes with Honda.

“We are pleased to not only continue what is the longest-standing relationship our team has had but to also continue to strengthen it,” said Rahal. “We appreciate the belief Honda has put in our technical team and organization overall and our mutual respect will enable us to continue to grow as a team. The scope of the offseason projects we have lined up have us looking forward to the 2020 season and beyond as we approach the 30-year anniversary of the program in 2024.”

“We’re excited to continue our long and successful partnership with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said Ted Klaus, President of Honda Performance Development. “As many fans know, Bobby Rahal and his team were our first partner when Honda entered Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition in 1994, joined us when Honda entered the IndyCar Series in 2003, and with driver Buddy Rice recorded our first Indianapolis 500 win in 2004. We look forward to additional success with RLL in the seasons ahead.”

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INDYCAR Adding Nashville Street Race For 2021

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NTT INDYCAR SERIES

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.”

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“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.

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Scott Dixon Escapes Mid-Ohio With INDYCAR Points Lead Despite Struggles

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Matt Fraver

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.

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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.”

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.

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Colton Herta Wins Race 2 Of Honda Indy 200 At Mid Ohio

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Chris Jones

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.

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“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.

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