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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).

Three Rivers Karting

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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Josef Newgarden Leads Day 2 Of Indy 500 Testing

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Photo: James Black

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sunny skies and better weather conditions contributed to higher speeds in Day 2 of open testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for next month’s 105th running of The Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden topped the speed chart with a fast lap of 226.819 mph in the No. 2 Chevrolet. That easily eclipsed the 224.427 top speed from the rain-hampered first day on Thursday that was set by Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

“It was a pretty good day,” said Newgarden. “I was happy enough with the car. I think we still need some work, for sure, but to just get an initial read on where we’re at is good. Obviously, there are a lot of new parts and differences to the last couple of years, so we’re just trying to assess what we need to really work on these last couple of weeks before we get back here in May. But I’m pretty happy.”

Two-time and reigning Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was second on the speed chart at 226.369 in the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

Two-time 500 winner and 1999 CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya was third quickest at 226.123 in the No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

“Today was good,” said Montoya. “We worked through a lot of things. We found a lot of good things and a lot of bad things like you always do.  It was nice to get back a little bit in the draft. A lot to catch up again and learn and understand again what you need to do and the timing.  Everybody at Arrow McLaren SP has done a great job and this test has been very, very, useful.”

Three Rivers Karting

6-time and defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon was fourth fastest in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda with a fast lap of 225.906.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 225.644 in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

The 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 30 at IMS.

The green flag drops on the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES with the season opening, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst on Sunday, April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network will provide live coverage starting at 3 p.m. (ET).

INDYCAR Practice 3

INDYCAR ROP 2

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Sebastien Bourdais Quickest In Day 1 Of Indy 500 Testing

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Photo: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was the fastest of 32-drivers who took part in the first of two days of testing for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Bourdais turned a fast lap of 224.427 mph late in the day during the Veteran Refresher and Rookie Orientation Programs.  Bourdais was required to complete the refresher because he did not compete in ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’ in 2020.

“Pretty good refresher for the A.J. Foyt No. 14,” said Bourdais, a four-time open wheel Champion. “That ROKiT car was pretty good. It always feels a little different when you start at low speeds and the car’s never really settled, but we got through both phases and are ready to go tomorrow and start working properly. It’s all good.”

Conor Daly was the second-fastest driver overall and the fastest in the 90-minute morning session before heavy rain arrived in Indianapolis. Daly’s top lap was 222.714 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Sage Karam was third overall at 222.408 in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet.

6-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon was third fastest in the morning session in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.  Dixon’s fast lap was 220.575 mph.

Three Rivers Karting

2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay suffered a broken finger in a crash in Turn 1 just 11 minutes into track activity in his No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Rain halted the opening veterans-only session at 12:30 p.m. (ET). A second heavy shower around 3:15 p.m. delayed track activity until the track reopened at 6:03 p.m. under blue skies and sunshine.

Track activity will take place from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Friday, with live broadcast coverage on Peacock. Rookie Orientation and refresher tests will take place from 9-10 a.m., with veterans back on track from 10-11 a.m. The track will open for all drivers from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

The 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 30.

INDYCAR Practice 1

INDYCAR Rookie:Veteran Practice

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Indy 500 Testing Thursday And Friday At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Photo: Walt Kuhn

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Thirty-two drivers are scheduled to participate in two days of NTT INDYCAR SERIES testing Thursday and Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Testing will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Thursday with veterans hitting the 2.5-mile famed oval first from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by rookie orientation and veteran refresher programs are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Two rookies are scheduled for orientation: Cody Ware (Dale Coyne Racing) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing with RWR).

Even Indianapolis 500 winners are not exempt from the veteran refresher program.  Three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya are two of the veterans schedule to participate along with Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Sage Karam and Simona De Silvestro.

Three Rivers Karting

6-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Scott Dixon leads the Chip Ganassi Racing squad at the test.  Dixon returns for his quest to tie the legendary A.J. Foyt for a series record seventh Championship in 2021.  Dixon will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Dixon’s teammates will also be participating in the test.  Newcomer Alex Palou will be in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda.  Marcus Ericsson returns in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda and Tony Kanaan is back with CGR in the cockpit of the No. 48 Honda that Jimmie Johnson will drive on the road and street courses.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal will be behind the wheel of the No. 15 Honda.  Rahal will be joined by defending and two-time 500 winner Takuma Sato and Santino Ferrucci will be in a third RLL entry.

The test is closed to the public but will be streamed live to race fans exclusively via NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock.

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