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Racing Notebook – Thursday, January 30

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12 May, 2011, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA John Andretti ©2011, Michael L. Levitt LAT Photo USA

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The racing world loses a versatile driver, plus a little over a week before “Speedweeks” begins in Daytona and news keeps coming out of the NASCAR world and an IndyCar and Indy 500 Champion announces his plans for 2020.

JOHN ANDRETTI LOSES BATTLE WITH COLON CANCER

John Andretti, a winning driver in IndyCar, IMSA, NASCAR and the NHRA passed away today after a three year battle with colon caner.  He was 56-years-old.

Andretti scored wins in IMSA’s 1989 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 1991 Gold Coast IndyCar Grand Prix at Surfers Paradise, in NASCAR at the 1997 Pepsi 400 at Daytona and the 1999 Goody’s Body Pain 500 at Martinsville.

In 1993, Andretti reached the Semi-finals in his first NHRA National event at the FRAM Southern Nationals at Atlanta, beating Top Fuel Champion Joe Amato in Round 1, Tommy Johnson Jr. in Round 2 but lost to Mike Dunn in the semi-finals.  Andretti clocked a career-best speed of 299 mph during that weekend.

Andretti was also the first driver to attempt the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 doubleheader in 1994.  Andretti finished 10th at Indy for A.J. Foyt Racing and finished 36th at Charlotte Motor Speedway for car owner Billy Hagan.

Andretti was the son of Aldo Andretti, Mario’s twin brother,  a cousin to Michael and Jeff, uncle and Godfather to Marco, and brother to Mark, Adam and MaryJo Andretti-Dial.

Condolences to his wife Nancy, children Jarrett, Olivia and Amelia and the entire Andretti family.

TONY KANAAN ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR 2020

2013 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2004 IndyCar Champion Tony Kanaan is closing out his primary IndyCar driving career by driving five oval races for A.J. Foyt Racing.  Check out our story: Tony Kanaan Announces 2020 Will Be His Final IndyCar Season.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER TO DRIVE 8 XFINITY RACES IN 2020

A.J. Allmendinger is gearing up for more races in 2020.  Allmendinger will run 8-Xfinity Series races for Kaulig Racing.

Allmendinger drove in five races in 2019 for Kaulig, scoring a win at The ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway and a third-place finish at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex.

“I’m looking forward to returning to the Kaulig Racing organization” Allmendinger said in a statement.  “I had so much fun working with everyone on the team last season and being teammate with Justin (Haley) and Ross (Chastain).  Hopefully, I can help the team in any way possible so that we ca build on the success we had last year and go for more wins.”

Allmendinger’s eight races include the season opener at Daytona (February 15), Talladega (April 25), Mid-Ohio (May 30), Indianapolis (July 4), Road America (August 8), Watkins Glen (August 15), Daytona (August 28), and the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway (October 10).

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KOCH INDUSTRIES TO SPONSOR RYAN NEWMAN IN DAYTONA 500

Koch Industries, one of America’s largest private companies, will be sponsoring Ryan Newman’s No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford Mustang at Speedweeks.

Koch Industries owns companies involved in refining, biofuels, chemicals, consumer products and more.

“We are looking forward to teaming up with Koch Industries and having them on the car for one of the most celebrated races of the season,” Newman said in a press release.  “Winning the 500 is one of the biggest accomplishments of my racing career.  We have really fast superspeedway cars at Roush Fenway and we’d like nothing better than to kick off our season by driving the Koch Industries Ford into victory lane at Daytona.”

Koch Industries joins Oscar Mayer, Castrol and Wyndham Rewards as sponsors of Newman’s No. 6 Ford in 2020.

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS NAMES SPONSORS FOR BOWMAN’S NO. 88

Hendrick Motorsports is using several sponsors on the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE driven by Alex Bowman in 2020.

Valvoline will be the primary sponsor on the No. 88 for the Busch Clash and Daytona 500 as well as two other races in 2020. Additional primary sponsorship comes from Axalta Coating Systems (3 races), Cincinnati (2 races) and Lamar (3 races).

The remainder of the races will be filled out by the website ChevyGoods.com.  The website will promote Adam’s Polishes, NOCO and Truck Hero products when it launches in February.  Bowman’s Chevy will carry the website and will rotate the three brands on the hood.

Bowman picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series win last season at Chicagoland Speedway in addition to making the NASCAR Playoffs for the second year in-a-row.

NASCAR TWEAKS STAGE LENGTHS

NASCAR is changing the length of stages for 16-Cup Series races, basically shortening the final stage and adjusting the second stage to go beyond the half-way point of a race.

Here are the changes to superspeedway races:

  • Daytona 500 stages will be 65-laps/65/70 (last stage in 2019 was 80-laps).
  • Talladega stages will be 60/60/68 (last stage in 2019 was 78-laps).

Here are the changes to intermediate tracks:

  • Atlanta’s stages will be 105/105/115 (2019 final stage was 155-laps).
  • Texas Motor Speedway’s stages will be 105/105/124 (2019 final stage was 164-laps).
  • Darlington Raceway’s stages will be 115/115/137 (2019 final stage was 167-laps).

Tracks that are a mile or less in length will see these changes:

  • Phoenix Raceway’s stages will be 75/115/122 (final stage in 2019 was 162-laps).
  • New Hampshire will feature stages lengths of 75/110/116 (2019 final stage was 151-laps).
  • Dover’s stage lengths will be 75/162/163 (final stage in 2019 was 160-laps).
  • Richmond Raceway’s stages will be 80/155/165 (2019 final stage was 200-laps).

Pocono Raceway’s doubleheader stage lengths will be different in each race.  Saturday’s race will feature stage lengths of 25/52/53 laps and Sunday’s race will feature stage lengths of 30/55/55.  Sunday’s race is 10-laps longer than Saturday’s race.

Stage lengths have yet to be determined for the road course events at Sonoma and Watkins Glen as well as the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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GMC Hummer EV Partners With Chip Ganassi Racing’s Extreme E Entry

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Chip Ganassi Racing Extreme E

LONDON, ENGLAND (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – GMC is partnering with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) on the team’s Extreme E program, which makes its debut in April.

CGR’s 550-horsepower electric SUV, which features a unique grille, graphics and bodywork, was inspired by the GMC HUMMER EV, the world’s first all-electric supertruck.

“I can’t think of a better fit than showcasing the look of GMC’s HUMMER EV in Extreme E with Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Jim Campbell, General Motors U.S. vice president, Performance and Motorsports. “Both GMC HUMMER EV and the Extreme E series are designed to be revolutionary – to challenge perceptions of electric vehicles and to showcase their true capability.”

“It’s truly an honor to represent GMC, especially during such an exciting time in auto racing,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The new GMC HUMMER EV is going to be a game changer in terms of how the world views off-road EV capability, and we couldn’t be more proud to represent GMC in such an innovative new series.”

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Sara Price and Kyle LeDuc are CGR’s pair of drivers in the series, which will highlight the impact of climate change and human activity in some of the world’s most remote locations while promoting sustainability and the adoption of electric vehicles to help protect the planet.

“We feel very proud to welcome GMC and its iconic GMC HUMMER EV to the Extreme E family, as it joins forces with our Chip Ganassi Racing team,” said Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E. “Not only will Extreme E be a thrilling motorsport, it will also showcase the performance and benefits of electric vehicles.”

Extreme E 2021 Calendar:

Desert X Prix: AlUla, Saudi Arabia: April 3-4, 2021
Ocean X Prix: Lac Rose, Senegal: May 29-30, 2021
Arctic X Prix: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland: August 28-29, 2021
Amazon X Prix: Para, Brazil: October 23-24, 2021
Glacier X Prix: Patagonia, Argentina: December 11-12, 2021

Reservations are being accepted for select trims of GMC’s new supertruck, the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV, which will launch with initial production this fall. The HUMMER EV will be a fully electric addition to GMC’s portfolio powered by General Motors’ new Ultium battery system. The HUMMER EV Edition One will offer a three-motor e4WD propulsion system with GM-estimated best-in-class 1,000 horsepower and a GM-estimated 11,500 lb-ft of torque.

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PPG To Sponsor Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin And Austin Cindric

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Joe Skibinski

MOORESVILLE, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pittsburgh headquartered PPG Industries is expanding their partnership with Team Penske.

PPG – a global manufacturer of paints, coatings, and specialty materials – will be featured as the primary sponsor on the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet driven by Scott McLaughlin for 10 races during the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.

“PPG is a global, industry-leading brand that has been a terrific partner with Team Penske for more than three decades,” said team owner Roger Penske. “Our relationship with PPG has continued to grow and reach across all areas of our business. We are excited about the newest racing opportunity in our partnership as PPG teams up with the No. 3 team and Scott for his first full season competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

“The relationship with Team Penske has been extremely successful for PPG, both on and off the track,” said Bill Shaw, PPG director, strategic accounts, automotive refinish. “We are excited to add another chapter to our history with Scott McLaughlin and the No. 3 PPG Dallara/Chevrolet team. Scott has proven himself to be one of the most talented racecar drivers in the world, and we know success in his new opportunity with the team is just around the corner. PPG is excited to be a part of that.”

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McLaughlin made his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut when he raced for Team Penske in the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The 27-year-old native of Christchurch, New Zealand, will embark on a new challenge this season as he transitions to open-wheel racing with a full-season INDYCAR program following an incredibly successful four-year run with the DJR Team Penske Supercars program, helping secure three team championships and winning the driver’s title in each of the last three seasons.

“It is surreal to think my first full season in the INDYCAR SERIES is almost here,” said McLaughlin. “I am truly living out my dreams and to have PPG on board as our primary partner is amazing. I watched the beautiful blue and white PPG cars compete over the last few years, and they look amazing on track. It is going to be an honor to represent PPG in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet this season.”

In addition to the partnership with McLaughlin and the No. 3 team in 2021, PPG will also continue to serve as a sponsor for Team Penske’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program with 2020 series champion Austin Cindric. Cindric will pilot the No. 22 PPG Ford Mustang in races this season at the Daytona Road Course, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Mid-Ohio and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Locally, PPG is the naming rights holder for the Penguins PPG Paints Arena and this year the PPG logo is on the helmets of Penguins players.

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Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled

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Indy Autonomous Challenge/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feature Dallaras as the race cars.

Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this week unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.

Dallara has been the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series since 2002, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.

“Dallara is the best racecar engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”

“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”

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One of the teams competing in the challenge is the Panther AV RAS-ing team from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Panther AV RAS-ing is part of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software that have responded to the challenge.  The challengers represent 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.

The IAC is scheduled for October 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races.

“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”

Two companies headquartered in Western Pennsylvania are sponsors of the event.  Ansys, a global leader in engineering simulation that is headquartered in Canonsburg, and Aptiv, an autonomous vehicle company who is relocating from O’Hara Township to Hazelwood Green.

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