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Scott Dixon And Josef Newgarden Test IndyCar Aeroscreen On Short Oval At Richmond Raceway

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Indycar Series

RICHMOND, Virginia (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden put IndyCars Aeroscreen cockpit protection device though its latest test, on the 0.75-mile short oval at Richmond Raceway.

IndyCar is returning to Richmond in June of 2020 for the first time since 2009 so the test was a chance to not only evaluate the Aeroscreen but to also test some different Firestone tire compounds to find out what might work best for the race.

This is the second on-track test with the Aeroscreen for Dixon, who tested it earlier this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“A little different look with the Aeroscreen,” said Dixon. “It seems like everything is going well with all the testing (INDYCAR has) done. For sure (here), the car’s fine.”

The Aeroscreen test was Newgarden’s first chance to try it out since he was crowned the 2019 IndyCar Champion.

“When I first went out my perception of how much grip the car and how much control I had was slightly different, but I think that’s because it felt foreign,” said Newgarden. “You’re not used to having a screen over your head, but after 20 or 30 laps after you got used to it the car feels very similar in terms of how I drive the car or how the car feels compared to a place like Iowa or Gateway — it feels very similar.”

The Aeroscreen was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies to reduce the risk of driver injury from flying debris or other objects striking the cockpit area. The titanium framework mounts in three areas around the cockpit: the chassis centerline, two rear side mounts and roll hoop integration to provide enhanced load-bearing capabilities. The load-bearing is expected to be 150 kilonewtons (kN), which equals the FIA load for the Halo design currently used in Formula One. A kilonewton is equal to approximately 225 pounds.

The additional weight of the Aeroscreen didn’t really affect the car as much as one would think said Newgarden.

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“From a tuning standpoint, it didn’t take that much to get it back into the correct window as far as the balance – the balance is very good even with the screen on. From that point, I don’t think the cars are going to change that much going into next year.”

The visit to Richmond Raceway was the third consecutive week of on-track testing of the Aeroscreen, with each coming on a different type of layout. Previously, INDYCAR staged an Aeroscreen test at a superspeedway – Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and followed with the second at the Barber Motorsports Park permanent road course in Birmingham, Ala. on Oct. 7.

A focus of this test was to make driving the car a more comfortable experience by redirecting the airflow inside the cockpit through the use of interior inlets.

“That was an improvement,” said Dixon, “especially around the legs and body.”

IndyCar President Jay Frye continues to be pleased with the ongoing development of the Aeroscreen.

“We’ve learned something every time we’ve tested,” said Frye. “It’s about checking the boxes and once the teams get a hold of it they’ll make it even better. They’ll take it to a whole other level.”

The fourth scheduled test will be Nov. 5 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, a track that simulates street circuits. Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan and James Hinchcliffe of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will be the drivers taking part in that test.

The Aeroscreen is scheduled to make its race debut March 13-15, 2020 at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou Wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship

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Chris Owens/INDYCAR

LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – In just his first year with the team Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou is your 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion.

Palou’s 4th-place finish in Sunday’s season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach guaranteed the 24-year-old native of Spain his first INDYCAR Championship in his second season and the Ganassi team their 14th title since 1996.

“This team is amazing,” said Palou. “I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. What a race, what a year, what a season.”

“People win Championships,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The driver, the team, and especially the people behind the scenes, leaving the shop in the winter when it’s dark out and snowing, that don’t get the notoriety.”

Palou started the race in tenth position in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda.  Palou’s closest Championship rival, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, started the race in eighth position.  Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden started on the pole position with Palou’s CGR teammate Scott Dixon alongside in second place in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.

Newgarden took the lead in turn one with Dixon in tow as the field took the green flag.  The race wasn’t even 2-laps old when Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones made an ambitious attempt to pass James Hinchcliffe, but made contact with O’Ward with Palou right behind Jones!

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O’Ward brought out the caution flag a short time later on lap 20 when the right rear driveshaft failed on the front stretch.

The caution flag shuffled the field as some cars went to pit road for service while other cars stayed out to gain track position, giving the lead to Helio Castroneves, who took a turn at the front of the field until he went to pit road on lap 34, giving the lead to Colton Herta.

Herta earned his turn at the front as he was making moves through the field throughout the race and following the last restart, it was Newgarden and Dixon giving chase.  Palou was behind Dixon in fourth doing what he needed to get the car to the checkered flag in one piece.

Herta pulled away in the end to a .5883-second victory, his ?? win of 2021.  Newgarden finished second to jump O’Ward for second in the Championship, 38-points behind Palou.

Dixon finished third followed by Palou in fourth. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud rounded out the Top 5.

Alexander Rossi, Jack Harvey, Sebastian Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Will Power made up spots 6 through 10.

Honda claimed the Engine Manufacturer’s Championship for the fourth straight year.

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Josef Newgarden wins pole position for INDYCAR Acura Long Beach Grand Prix

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Chris Owens/INDYCAR

LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Newgarden’s fast lap of 1-minute, 8.2241-seconds around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit was .2181-seconds faster than Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.

The pole position and valuable Championship point is exactly what Newgarden needs to do to win his third series title.  Newgarden enters the race in third position in the standings, 48-points behind leader Alex Palou, and must win, lead the most laps and hope Palou finishes 25th or worse.

“It’s very improbable for us to win this championship,” Newgarden said. “So, our goal is to win the race tomorrow. Let’s finish our season on a high note, and we’ll see what happens. I think it’s pretty unlikely, but you never say never in this sport.”

The only other driver with a shot at the Championship is Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who will start eighth in the 28-car field.  O’Ward also needs to win and hope for Palou to finish 25th or worse.

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“Our car has been good,” said O’Ward. “We didn’t roll off the best, but I think we made some really good changes, just kept improving. We had enough for the Fast 6.”

Palou will start 10th in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.  Palou and O’Ward were on flying laps when they were forced to slow for a local yellow for Will Power, costing both valuable lap time which eventually cost both the ability to advance to the final round of knockout-style qualifying.

“That yellow flag didn’t help us at all,” said Palou. “I think we were going to be easy through, but racing stuff, right?  I’m happy because the car’s good, a bit better than yesterday and this morning.”

“Kind of sucks to get hosed by a very odd call,” added O’Ward. “We should have been in the Fast 6.”

Palou must finish 12th or better – or 13th or better if he leads a lap – to clinch his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship and CGR’s 14th title since 1996!

Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network. A 30-minute warmup starts at noon (ET), live on Peacock Premium.

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Colton Herta goes back-to-back at Laguna Seca

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Joe Skibinski

MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta won Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey giving him back-to-back victories two decades after his father accomplished the same feat.  Herta beat Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by 1.9747-seconds to pick up his second victory of 2021 and fifth of his career.

“Alex, really the whole race, was right there,” said Herta. “Then Grosjean at the end pressured Alex, therefore pressured me. To go two-for-two so far (at Laguna Seca) is great. We were fast all weekend, and I’m glad we could pull it off in the race.”

Palou continued his march towards his first series title with a second place after last week’s win at Portland, which gives Palou and the No. 10 NTT DATA team a 35-point lead ahead of second place Pato O’Ward.

“Unfortunately we didn’t have the pace that Colton had,” explained Palou. “I think in reds and blacks he had a bit more. As soon as I tried to catch him, which we tried, I would just cook my tires. Yeah, I couldn’t go as fast as him without losing my tires.”

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Palou, O’Ward and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden are the only drivers eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale. Newgarden is third in the standings, 48 points back.

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson were eliminated from contention at this race after finishing 13th and sixth, respectively.

“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward said. “I truly feel like we used every single ounce of energy and pace that this car had. We pulled off a near-miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. In the race, honestly, that was as much as I had.

“All we can do at Long Beach is win, and then let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy around a street course, so let’s see what we can pull off next week.”

Herta’s victory clinched the Manufacturers Championship for the fourth consecutive season.

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