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Racing Notebook – Wednesday, January 29

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A busy week of news in the racing world. Today’s notebook features an Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Champion, plus NASCAR and their media partners are holding their annual “production days” so that means plenty of news out of the Concord, North Carolina hub.

2019 INDY 500 WINNER SIMON PAGENAUD UNVEILS 2020 INDY 500 TICKET

2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud (pictured above with Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles and Penske Entertainment President Mark Miles) unveiled the ticket for the 104th Indianapolis 500, which captures the former Series Champion enjoying the iconic bottle of milk enjoyed by 500 winners in victory lane.

“This moment of me drinking the bottle of milk is the moment I realized it happened,” said Pagenaud.  “It’s a sweet moment for me.  And I didn’t know it was the picture, so it’s pretty cool to see it now and realize that it transpired.  People saw it was a very, very, very special moment for me.”

The image, by Indianapolis Motor Speedway photographer Chris Owens, is printed on the 500 ticket.  The Indy 500 ticket, one of the most coveted keepsakes in sports, is printed on thick stock with spot-raised MVP coating and gold foil stamp.

The ticket unveiling also featured a special gift for Norman Pagenaud, Simon and wife Hailey’s beloved Jack Russel Terrier, who captured the hearts and imaginations of race fans worldwide when he barked and wagged his tail in delight in the winner’s circle after Simon’s win.

The gift was a special ticket featuring a shot of Norman barking in victory circle next to a celebrating Pagenaud.  The ticket was for a fictitious seat in “Terrier Terrace” at IMS, Section 20, Seat 20, Row K9.

DANIEL SUAREZ TO RUN FULL SEASON FOR GAUNT BROTHERS RACING

Gaunt Brothers Racing is gearing up to run the full 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and they are putting 2016 Xfinity Series Champion Daniel Suarez behind the wheel of the No. 96 Toyota.

Sponsorship will come from Coca-Cola and CommScope, a leader in communication network technology, who has been with Suárez through its ARRIS and Ruckus Networks brands since 2014 when he first competed in the Xfinity Series.

“It’s great to be back with Toyota and back in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said the 28-year-old Suárez, who was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico and now calls Huntersville, North Carolina home. “My NASCAR career started off really well and Toyota was a very big part of that. To have them in my corner again gives me a lot of confidence. Gaunt Brothers Racing has something to prove and so do I. We’re committed to each other and we’re going to build each other up.”

“We’ve been working toward this moment since Gaunt Brothers Racing joined the Cup Series in 2017,” said Marty Gaunt, president, Gaunt Brothers Racing. “We’ve made steady improvement every year, but bringing Daniel on board allows us to take a giant leap forward.  We’re investing in each other.  He’s not content to just be here and neither are we. We’ve been very strategic in everything we’ve done, and between our partnership with Toyota and the resources now available to us, we can take that next step and deliver for Daniel and all of our partners.”

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CITGO PETROLEUM TO SPONSOR JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK IN 2020

CITGO Petroleum is expanding their relationship with Front Row Motorsports by sponsoring Rookie-of-the-Year candidate John Hunter Nemecheck in 2020.

CITGO’s CITGUARD Heavy Duty Engine Oil will be the primary sponsor for JHN in his Daytona 500 debut in February. CITGARD will then return to the No. 38 Ford Mustang and Nemechek as the primary partner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, Michigan International Speedway in August, Bristol Motor Speedway in September and the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October.  The brand will also be featured as an Associate Sponsor throughout the season.

“CITGO Petroleum is an iconic brand in NASCAR,” said Nemechek.  “Growing up in NASCAR, everyone knows the colors of CITGO and the past two seasons the CITGARD brand has brought the company back into the sport with FRM.  It’s awesome to join their team and carry on their tradition and winning history.  I can’t wait to represent CITGARD in the Daytona 500. There is no better race to start this relationship.”

The No. 38 CITGARD Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang driven by John Hunter Nemechek

“Our customers are NASCAR fans and have showed their support since our return to NASCAR with Front Row Motorsports over the past two seasons,” said Brian Paulson, General Manager, Lubricants, CITGO Petroleum Corporation.  “We are expanding our relationship in 2020 and including the sport’s biggest day, the Daytona 500.  We will be there with John Hunter Nemechek, who is a proven winner in every series he’s competed in coming up to the Cup Series.  We’re looking forward to another successful season.”

CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY CELEBRATING 60TH SEASON IN 2020

Charlotte Motor Speedway is celebrating its 60th anniversary this season in grand style.

Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith and Greg Walter, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s executive vice president and general manager, unveiled an agglomeration of attractions for the upcoming season.

Highlights included:

  • · Elvis Presley’s iconic pink Cadillac at the April 2-5 Pennzoil AutoFair
  • · Every ticket to the May 16 NASCAR All-Star Race is a pit pass
  • · Chris Janson’s pre-race concert at the All-Star Race
  • · Chef Irvine’s exclusive Coca-Cola 600 suite menu
  • · Details on a Mission 600 visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

“When my dad (Bruton Smith) started to move dirt out here on what was a farm in 1959, I’m not sure he ever imagined it would be this big,” Smith said.  “He’s got a great vision for big things, but I think what’s happened (with Charlotte Motor Speedway) in the last six decades is just the start of what we’ll see going forward in the next 60 years.”

PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL RACE COMPLEX HIRING

The Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum, PA is looking to fill several positions for the 2020 racing season.  Pitt Race is looking for help in the following areas:

  • Corner Marshals
  • Gate Attendants
  • Housekeeping
  • Karting
  • Maintenance
  • Retail
  • Fire/Rescue

Interested parties can apply in-person by stopping by the track office, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or online at https://pittrace.com.  In-person interviews will begin the week of February 24th.

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The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast – Episode 15 – Aaron Reutzel, Matthew Dillner, Chip Ganassi and more!

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The latest edition of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast features the 2-time and defending Champion of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 Aaron Reutzel.  We also talk to Matthew Dillner of Dirty Mo Media about the new show he co-hosts with Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chip Ganassi takes his own trip down memory lane and we hear from Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials about safety protocols in place at this year’s Indy 500.

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Racing Notebook: Cole Pearn Joins Ed Carpenter Racing; Paul Tracy Joins SRX and Road To Indy At Mid-Ohio

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has news about Engineer Cole Pearn joining Ed Carpenter Racing for the Indy 500 plus Paul Tracy joins SRX Racing.

Cole Pearn Joins Ed Carpenter Racing For The Indy 500:

  • Championship-winning Crew Chief Cole Pearn is joining Ed Carpenter Racing for the Indianapolis 500.  Pearn will serve as the lead engineer for Conor Daly. Daly will compete in ECR’s third entry, the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet.  Pearn and driver Martin Truex Jr captured the NASCAR Cup Series title in 2017 with Furniture Row Racing.  Pearn left full-time NASCAR competition at the close of the 2019 season, returning to his home country of Canada with his wife Carrie and their two young children. The couple now own and operate Golden Alpine Holidays, which includes four backcountry lodges in British Columbia.
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Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan Join SRX Racing Series:

  • Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan are signed on as drivers in the Superstar Racing Experience, the new series founded by Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham. Tracy joins Tony Stewart and Tony Kanaan as the third confirmed driver for the series that will air Saturday nights in primetime on CBS Television Network in the Summer of 2021.

Road To Indy Racing At Mid-Ohio:

  • Braden Eves from New Albany Ohio too home the victory in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex.  Eves held off Daniel Frost and Parker Thompson, who rounded out the podium.  Colin Kaminsky, who is the goaltender for the University of Pittsburgh Hockey Team, finished sixth.
  • Christian Rasmussen was victorious Wednesday afternoon in the USF2000 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Presented by Cooper Tires Honoring First Responders. Second-generation Brazilian racer Eduardo Barrichello held on for a career-best second-place finish, despite a determined challenge from 15-year-old Floridian Reece Gold who also secured his best result to date for Cape Motorsports.
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7-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson Tests Chip Ganassi Racing INDYCAR

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Chris Owens

SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson is spending his Tuesday testing one of Chip Ganassi Racing’s INDYCAR’s on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Johnson was supposed to test at the Speedway on July 8 following the INDYCAR/NASCAR doubleheader weekend on the Fourth of July, but Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 forcing him to miss the Brickyard 400.  Johnson tested negative for the virus a few days later and only missed that one race, opening the door to reschedule this test.

Johnson climbed aboard the No. 10 NTT Data Honda that is usually driven by Felix Rosenqvist and after his initial run he hopped on the team radio.  CGR Managing Director Mike Hull shared Johnson’s comment on his Twitter feed.

5-Time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank CGR Honda, was on hand to help Johnson too.

Seven-time even took a few minutes to thank five-time:

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No official speeds were available but if Johnson’s social media posts were any indication it was a productive day.

 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles presented Johnson with a gift following the test.

Johnson has expressed an interest in competing in a few INDYCAR races in 2021 since he is retiring from full-time NASCAR competition following the 2020 season and after the day seemed like he’s ready to give it a try.

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