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Colton Herta Wins IndyCar Pole At Laguna Seca; Scott Dixon Starts 2nd

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Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Series

MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta is on the pole for Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series Season Finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

“We obviously had a great car this whole weekend, and after leading coming just straight off the truck and leading, being P2 in the morning and Thursday, leading the day Thursday and leading practice 1, being there in practice 2 and 3 and obviously getting the pole, it just shows the charisma of the team and everything we’re doing has been in the right directions,” said Herta. “Obviously, it feels great, now it’s two poles in two weekends.”

Herta’s fast lap of 1-minute, 10.1405-seconds (114.867 mph) in knockout-style qualifying was 0.0426-seconds faster than PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (1:10.1831/114.797mph), who will start on the outside of the front row.  Dixon needed the bonus point for winning the pole in his quest for a sixth Championship.

“It was definitely a good recovery for us,” said Dixon, the five-time and defending series Champion. “We’d been struggling a little bit all weekend. I’d just been struggling to get the time out of the new tires. I think we did a good job. I know our second run pace on used tires had been really good all weekend, it was just I hadn’t been able to get the speed out of the new ones. It was a nice surprise, and you know, in a good position.”

Two of the drivers Dixon is chasing in the Championship, Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the series points leader, are starting behind him in 3rd and 4th respectively.

Three Rivers Karting

“We’ve had a pretty challenging two-and-a-half days for the (No.) 27 NAPA Andretti Honda group – really the Andretti Autosport group as a whole,” said Rossi.  “We had peaks and valleys, but it came good this afternoon for the most part. It’s tough when you miss out by seven-hundredths. You can find a lot of places in a lap where you give that up. We just have to keep working at it and come up with a good race car strategy for tomorrow.”

“In our situation it’s a good thing to be close to the competition, specifically the ones in the championship,” said Newgarden.  “We’ve got to have a good clean run tomorrow. You’d like to win every race and maybe we’ve got a race-winning car tomorrow. It certainly feels like we have the capability of it. But we need to have a good clean day, try and not get caught up in anything, and just run our race like we normally would. I think that’s what we’ll try and focus on.”

Arrow Schmidt Petersen Motorsports James Hinchcliffe will start fifth and Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who is also in front of Dixon in the Championship hunt, will start sixth.

“It’s been a tough log up to this last point. The test day wasn’t super productive for us and unfortunately then, over Friday and this morning, we were thrown all sorts of set up changes at the car. I’ve been having to learn how to drive a different car every session. We never gave up and huge credit to the engineers, and everybody, for keeping their heads down and coming up with the setup at the end of Practice 3 this morning, which was something we could work with.”

it was definitely an intense qualifying,” said Pagenaud.  “We pushed as hard as we could to try to be ahead. Very exciting. It was a very stressful situation but overall, I wanted to be on the pole. I think we all wanted to be on the pole. But it was very tight. It was very important to at least transfer to the Fast Six, and I think we tried everything we could. I was attacking everywhere, maybe a little too much at times, but that was the time to go. Absolutely no regrets, and we did the best we could.”

Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, a 90-lap race, will be televised live on NBC beginning with the pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT) with the green flag scheduled for 3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m. PT). The race also will be broadcast on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM 205, Sirius 98).

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Josef Newgarden Leads Day 2 Of Indy 500 Testing

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Photo: James Black

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sunny skies and better weather conditions contributed to higher speeds in Day 2 of open testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for next month’s 105th running of The Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden topped the speed chart with a fast lap of 226.819 mph in the No. 2 Chevrolet. That easily eclipsed the 224.427 top speed from the rain-hampered first day on Thursday that was set by Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

“It was a pretty good day,” said Newgarden. “I was happy enough with the car. I think we still need some work, for sure, but to just get an initial read on where we’re at is good. Obviously, there are a lot of new parts and differences to the last couple of years, so we’re just trying to assess what we need to really work on these last couple of weeks before we get back here in May. But I’m pretty happy.”

Two-time and reigning Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was second on the speed chart at 226.369 in the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

Two-time 500 winner and 1999 CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya was third quickest at 226.123 in the No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

“Today was good,” said Montoya. “We worked through a lot of things. We found a lot of good things and a lot of bad things like you always do.  It was nice to get back a little bit in the draft. A lot to catch up again and learn and understand again what you need to do and the timing.  Everybody at Arrow McLaren SP has done a great job and this test has been very, very, useful.”

Three Rivers Karting

6-time and defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon was fourth fastest in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda with a fast lap of 225.906.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 225.644 in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

The 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 30 at IMS.

The green flag drops on the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES with the season opening, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst on Sunday, April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network will provide live coverage starting at 3 p.m. (ET).

INDYCAR Practice 3

INDYCAR ROP 2

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Sebastien Bourdais Quickest In Day 1 Of Indy 500 Testing

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Photo: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was the fastest of 32-drivers who took part in the first of two days of testing for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Bourdais turned a fast lap of 224.427 mph late in the day during the Veteran Refresher and Rookie Orientation Programs.  Bourdais was required to complete the refresher because he did not compete in ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’ in 2020.

“Pretty good refresher for the A.J. Foyt No. 14,” said Bourdais, a four-time open wheel Champion. “That ROKiT car was pretty good. It always feels a little different when you start at low speeds and the car’s never really settled, but we got through both phases and are ready to go tomorrow and start working properly. It’s all good.”

Conor Daly was the second-fastest driver overall and the fastest in the 90-minute morning session before heavy rain arrived in Indianapolis. Daly’s top lap was 222.714 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Sage Karam was third overall at 222.408 in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet.

6-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon was third fastest in the morning session in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.  Dixon’s fast lap was 220.575 mph.

Three Rivers Karting

2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay suffered a broken finger in a crash in Turn 1 just 11 minutes into track activity in his No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Rain halted the opening veterans-only session at 12:30 p.m. (ET). A second heavy shower around 3:15 p.m. delayed track activity until the track reopened at 6:03 p.m. under blue skies and sunshine.

Track activity will take place from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Friday, with live broadcast coverage on Peacock. Rookie Orientation and refresher tests will take place from 9-10 a.m., with veterans back on track from 10-11 a.m. The track will open for all drivers from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

The 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 30.

INDYCAR Practice 1

INDYCAR Rookie:Veteran Practice

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Indy 500 Testing Thursday And Friday At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Photo: Walt Kuhn

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Thirty-two drivers are scheduled to participate in two days of NTT INDYCAR SERIES testing Thursday and Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Testing will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Thursday with veterans hitting the 2.5-mile famed oval first from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by rookie orientation and veteran refresher programs are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Two rookies are scheduled for orientation: Cody Ware (Dale Coyne Racing) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing with RWR).

Even Indianapolis 500 winners are not exempt from the veteran refresher program.  Three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya are two of the veterans schedule to participate along with Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Sage Karam and Simona De Silvestro.

Three Rivers Karting

6-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Scott Dixon leads the Chip Ganassi Racing squad at the test.  Dixon returns for his quest to tie the legendary A.J. Foyt for a series record seventh Championship in 2021.  Dixon will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Dixon’s teammates will also be participating in the test.  Newcomer Alex Palou will be in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda.  Marcus Ericsson returns in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda and Tony Kanaan is back with CGR in the cockpit of the No. 48 Honda that Jimmie Johnson will drive on the road and street courses.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal will be behind the wheel of the No. 15 Honda.  Rahal will be joined by defending and two-time 500 winner Takuma Sato and Santino Ferrucci will be in a third RLL entry.

The test is closed to the public but will be streamed live to race fans exclusively via NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock.

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