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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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Detroit Grand Prix Canceled for 2020; INDYCAR Revises Schedule

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DETROIT, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear has been canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The event was scheduled to take place May 29-30 on Belle Isle and feature the NTT INDYCAR Series as well as IMSA.  The promoters tried to reschedule the event to later in the year but could not because of a number of events that take place on the island.

“Like our fans, we’re disappointed we won’t be racing in Detroit this year,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles.  “However, we’re excited to return to Belle Isle in 2021 and we know we’ll put on a great show when we do.”

The cancellation of the race forced INDYCAR to make several changes to their 2020 schedule.  Two previous scheduled events will become doubleheaders along with the addition of a third weekend of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

INDYCAR’s events at Iowa Speedway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will become doubleheaders.  The Iowa 300 event weekend will add a race on Friday, July 17 and The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will add a race on Saturday, September 19.

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“We also appreciate the flexibility of our event promoters at Iowa Speedway and Laguna Seca, who have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to host double-headers,” said Miles.

INDYCAR is adding a third event at the Racing Capital of the World on Saturday, October 3 on the IMS road course with the INDYCAR Harvest GP.  That race precedes the Indianapolis 8-hour endurance race that will feature the first-ever combination of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli with its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS.  The INDYCAR GMR Grand Prix was previously moved to Saturday, July 4 and the Indianapolis 500 was moved to Sunday, August 23.

“INDYCAR in October at IMS might bring slightly cooler weather but will definitely be warmly embraced by our fans,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles.  “Paired with the Indianapolis 8 Hour, we’re set for a can’t-miss fall weekend of motorsports at The Racing Capital of the World.”

The schedule changes gives INDYCAR 15-races in 2020, an increase of one event from the 14 races announced on March 26.

“We’re committed to bringing fans as much on-track action as possible,” said Miles.  “Our updated scheduled features additional racing at fan-favorite venues and adds to the total number of events on our calendar.  The COVID-19 situation continues to be dynamic and challenging for everyone, so we have developed contingency plans which will allow us to respond to changing conditions.  Our goal is to preserve as much racing competition as possible while prioritizing the health and safety of our participants and spectators.”

REVISED 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE

  • June 6: Texas Motor Speedway
  • June 21: Road America
  • June 27: Richmond Raceway
  • July 4: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course Race 1
  • July 12: Streets of Toronto
  • July 17: Iowa Speedway Race 1
  • July 18: Iowa Speedway Race 2
  • August 9: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Couse
  • August 15-16: Indianapolis 500 Qualifying
  • August 23: Indianapolis 500
  • August 30: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway
  • September 13: Portland International Raceway
  • September 19: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Race 1
  • September 20: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Race 2
  • October 3: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course Race 2
  • TBA: Streets of St. Petersburg
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Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin wins INDYCAR iRacing Challenge From virtual Barber Motorsports Park

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin is the winner of Round two of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge from virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

McLaughlin, a two-time Champion for DJR Penske in the Australian Supercar Series, used a two-stop strategy and held off his teammate Will Power to take home the victory.

“The feeling is pretty full on,” said McLaughlin.  “You’re pretty excited.  It’s just cool to be out there and learning I guess some of the craft and stuff like that.  Absolutely it’s probably going to be a little bit different in real life.  But to learn and get to know what’s going on in the INDYCAR world is really cool for me.”

“That first stint, you kind of just sat there and saved your tires knowing there was going to be a yellow,” said Power.  “Then our plan was to really close on Sage and jump in on a sequence by pitting early.  When we pitted early, we pitted into a lot of traffic, lost like seconds in that sequence.  Fortunately Sage must have made a mistake. Felix obviously did a really good job in that sequence.  I think he went to the lead.  Then he made a mistake.  That put me I guess as the leader on that strategy.  I wasn’t aware that Scott was on that strategy.”

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam, last week’s winner from virtual Watkins Glen International, started on the pole position and led the first 15-laps green flag laps, that’s when iRacing officials threw a competition caution and bunched up the field.

McLaughlin went to pit road one lap before that competition caution to take on tires and fuel.  A number of the other competitors, including Karam and second place Felix Rosenqvist of NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing, elected to stay out and pit later in the race.

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Karam and Rosenqvist elected to pit under green flag conditions with Karam coming in first on lap 25 and Rosenqvist coming in a lap later.  Rosenqvist came out slightly ahead of Karam who had the momentum but ran out of race track, dipping his right side tires onto the grass.

Rosenqvist, trying to stay ahead of Karam, carried too much speed into the next turn and lost control as Karam was trying to recover from his trip into the grass and both drivers spun out.

Andretti Autosport’s Scott Speed, who pitted during the competition caution period, inherited the lead but was in fuel saving mode down the stretch.

“I was working with my engineer from when I was with Andretti in the past, Graham, and we decided to try to pit before the yellow, hope that I can save a lot of fuel,” said Speed.  “Somehow I was able to do it.”

McLaughlin and Power however were not in fuel saving mode and were able to get by Speed to fight it out for the win with the former F1 driving bringing home in third place.

Future venues include the first oval event, on April 11 at Michigan International Speedway, a “Random Draw” track April 18, Circuit of the Americas on April 25 and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track May 2.

INDYCAR iRacing Barber Final

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Sage Karam Wins INDYCAR iRacing American Red Cross Grand Prix At Watkins Glen

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Dreyer and Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam picked up the virtual win in Saturday’s INDYCAR iRacing Challenge inaugural event, the American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International.

Karam, driving the No. 24 Wix Filters Chevrolet, beat Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 10 NTT Data Services Chip Ganassi Racing Honda by 3.614-seconds to take the virtual checkered flag.  Karam led 43 of the 45-laps en route to the victory.

“It was a lot of fun, and it was great that we could give the fans something to watch,” said Karam.  “It’s the only sport that (the world) can really do right now. I’m happy that I got the win for Wix Filters and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. The car looked pretty good out front so hopefully when we get to real racing, we can replicate that.”

“It was hard to catch Sage,” said Rosenqvist.  “I tried to take advantage of some lapping from the cars behind, but he always seemed to get through the traffic even better. He seemed to have (the lead) under control. I think that was a very deserved win for him. ”

Karam, the 2013 Indy Lights champion, has made 19 actual NTT INDYCAR SERIES starts over six seasons, scoring a career-best third at Iowa Speedway in 2015 while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Karam, one of the most experienced iRacing drivers in this field, picked up his 144th iRacing road-course win in 533 starts and 165th iRacing victory overall.

Team Penske’s Will Power brought home the No. 12 Verizon Chevy home in third followed by his teammate, two-time Australian Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Chevrolet.

Seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson, who plans on trying INDYCAR racing in the future started ninth and finished 16th despite being involved in a couple of incidents.

The second of six events will be held Saturday, April 4, on the Barber Motorsports Park permanent road course. The event will be held at 4 p.m. ET and streamed through INDYCAR.com while INDYCAR’s YouTube and Facebook platforms as well as iRacing’s Twitch will serve as additional outlets for viewing.

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Future events will be held weekly each Saturday through May 2 at the following sites: a “Driver’s Choice” track (April 11), “Random Draw” track (April 18), Circuit of The Americas (April 25) and a non-INDYCAR “Dream” track (May 2).

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PALMETTO, Fla. – Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires competitor Philippe Denes (RP Motorsport USA) dominated a strong 27-car field to win Saturday’s opening round of the Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries at a virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Last year’s Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship winner Braden Eves (Exclusive Autosport), from New Albany, Ohio, finished second following a race-long battle with Andre Castro (Legacy Autosport), from New York, N.Y., who unfortunately spun off on the final lap. Castro’s incident allowed USF2000 driver Eduardo Barrichello (Pabst Racing), from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to complete the podium in third.

“I felt really comfortable out there,” said Denes.  “It was a really good race and I’m glad to represent RP Motorsport in the sim world and to get the win.”

“It was a great race,” said Eves.  “It was a fun event and it keeps us busy while we’re all in quarantine. Thanks to the Road to Indy and Ricmotech for putting it on. This was the most professionally-run iRacing series I’ve been a part of.”

“It was a good experience,” said Barichello.  “I had an okay start, getting into third and staying there behind Phillippe.  It was hard to pass the lapped cars – they weren’t getting blue flags.  My biggest issue in the race was the pit stop; we weren’t expecting that.  I didn’t know how to pit, we didn’t practice that, but it was a good race.  Our pace was quite good, so I’m looking forward to the next race!”

Round Two of the Ricmotech Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires iRacing eSeries will be held next Saturday, with drivers taking on the challenge of the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.

Provisional championship points after one of five races:
1. Philippe Denes, 30
2. Braden Eves, 25
3. Eduardo Barrichello, 22
4. Reece Gold, 19
5. Colin Kaminsky, 17
6. Andre Castro, 15
7. Peter Dempsey, 14
8. Flinn Lazier, 13
9. Cameron Shields, 12
10. Kory Enders, 11

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