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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.”

Three Rivers Karting

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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Josef Newgarden puts the PPG colors in victory lane at Road America

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Owens

ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Josef Newgarden leapfrogged leader Alexander Rossi during green flag pit stops and held off a hard-charging Marcus Ericsson late in the race to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America.

The victory was Newgarden’s third of the year and came with a $1-million dollar bonus from PeopleReady.  The bonus went to the first driver to win on an oval (Texas) a street course (Long Beach) and a road course (Road America).  The money will be spit with half going to Newgarden and Team Penske and the other half to charities of Newgarden’s choice.

“To finally get it done and most importantly to give that money to charity, half of that money is going to charity with SeriousFun Network and Wags and Walks Nashville,” said Newgarden. “I hope they’re happy about it, that’s a lot of money coming their way.”

Newgarden started second and tucked in behind Rossi, the pole sitter, for the first 14-laps when the first round of green flag pit stops took place.  Newgarden’s No. 2 PPG Chevy crew got the two-time Series Champion out ahead of Rossi and as the rest of the field completed their stops.  Newgarden inherited the lead.

“You’ve got to be on your toes at all times (in this series),” said Newgarden. “You can go in with a plan, but you probably have to change your plan 90 percent of the time once the race starts to unfold.”

Three Rivers Karting

Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson finished second in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda after passing Rossi on a late restart.  The runner-up finish came despite Ericsson making contact with his teammate, and defending Series Champion, Alex Palou while racing for third in Turn 5 on Lap 4.

“First of all, I’m really sorry,” Ericsson said. “You never want to have contact with a teammate. From my point of view, the door was open, and I was already side by side. If you see a gap, you go for it. It’s important at the beginning of the race to get track position.”

Ericsson regained the points lead with the second place finish and sits 27-points ahead of 2nd place Will Power (293-266).  Power, last week’s winner at Detroit, finished 19th after rookie Devlin Defrancesco punted Power into the Turn 5 wall early in the race.

The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by the All-New Civic Type R on Sunday, July 3 (noon ET, NBC, Peacock Premium, INDYCAR Radio Network).  Mid-Ohio is the closest track to Pittsburgh that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES races.

INDYCAR Road America Results

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Racing Notebook: Rossi on INDYCAR pole; Larson on Cup pole; Busch wins Truck Race

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Penske Entertainment

Sunday’s Racing Notebook has details on the starting lineups for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Road America and the NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma as well as Kyle Busch winning another truck series race>

Rossi on INDYCAR Series Pole:

  • Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi earned his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position in three years by beating Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden in knockout-style qualifying for Sunday’s race at Road America.  Rossi’s fast lap of 1 minute, 44.8656 seconds edged Newgarden’s 1:44.9371 in the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet. Defending series champion Alex Palou, who led the final warmup session on Saturday afternoon, qualified third at 1:45.3822 in the No. 10 American Legion Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Teammate and 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson joins Palou in the second row after his best lap of 1:45.4240 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Road America INDYCAR Lineup
Three Rivers Karting

Larson Leads Hendrick Cup Series Front Row:

  • Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson is on the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma.  Larson’s fast lap of 92.111 mph (1m70.776s) edged teammate Chase Elliott’s 92.083 mph in the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet.  Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s Chris Buescher qualified third at 91.919 mph after missing last week’s race due to Covid-19. Michael McDowell starts fourth after posting a fast lap of 91.916. Sonoma Cup Lineup

Kyle Busch Wins Truck Series Race:

  • Kyle Busch held off Zane Smith to earn his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of the year Saturday at Sonoma.  The win extended his record career total to 62 series victories and a streak of 10 consecutive years with at least one series win.  Busch led 45 of the 75 laps in the victory.  Wexford’s Kris Wright finished 26th in the No. 44 FNB Chevrolet after starting 30th in his first race at Sonoma. Sonoma Truck Results
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Will Power wins INDYCAR Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in finale at Belle Isle

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Owens

DETROIT, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Will Power is enjoying the spoils of winning Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at the Raceway at Belle Isle, just one year later than he thought he would.

Power used a two-stop strategy and held off a hard-charging Alexander Rossi to win by one-second, one year after Power’s Verizon 5G Chevrolet would not re-start following a red flag while he was leading.

Power started 16th in the field on the primary ‘black’ Firestone tires and used them during his first two stints and then switched to the ‘red’ alternate tires for the last stint and was able to hold on for the win.

“For one, I didn’t have to have a blistering outlap and destroy the tire,” explained Power. “I was very conscious and drove it very straight and very focused. I could have pushed at the end; they (the tires) didn’t like die. It was a job well done by the team.”

The victory was the 41st of Power’s career and the win also gives him the Championship points lead, by three points over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, heading to next weekend’s race at Road America.

Three Rivers Karting

Rossi started the race on the faster but quicker-wearing alternate ‘red’ Firestone tires and was the first to hit pit road to get them off and employ a three-stop strategy.  Rossi drove like a man possessed the rest of the way and it almost worked.

“One more lap and it might have been a different story,” said Rossi.  “But it was a good day for the team and for Honda. We come here with the fastest car every year, but can’t seem to get a win. Will obviously did an amazing job, so we’ll take second and move on to Road America.”

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon started 9th on the primary Firestone tires but opted for the alternate tires during his second stint and finished the race back on the primary Firestones.

“That was a decent run for us,” said Dixon. “I feel like we were maybe a little too conservative on the opening stint. Congratulations to Will, he drove a fantastic race.”

IndyCar Detroit Results

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