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Racing Notebook – Friday, January 31

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Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR inducts five legends into the Hall-of-Fame plus the racing community reacts to the death of John Andretti in Friday’s Racing Notebook:

NASCAR HALL OF FAME HAS FIVE NEW MEMBERS

Five of NASCAR’s legendary competitors: Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson were enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, Friday night during the Induction Ceremony held in the Crown Ball Room at the Charlotte Convention Center.

  • Buddy Baker won 19 NASCAR Cup Series races, including consecutive World 600’s at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1972-73 and the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington.  Baker became the first NASCAR driver to break the 200 MPH on a closed course during a test at Talladega in 1970.  Baker also won the 1980 DAYTONA 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 MPH – a track record that still stands.  Baker, known as “The Gentle Giant” because he was 6-foot-6, went on to have distinguished career in broadcasting following his retirement from driving.
  • Joe Gibbs boasts five NASCAR Cup Series owner championships. His 176 Cup Series owner wins – including three DAYTONA 500 victories – rank third all-time. Three drivers have earned Cup Series titles for Gibbs: Labonte (200), Stewart (2002, 2005) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019).  Gibbs is also enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after winning three Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins.
  • Bobby Labonte was the first of four drivers to win a NASCAR Xfinity Series (1991) and NASCAR Cup Series (200) championship. In 729 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Labonte recorded 21-wins, 115-top fives and 203-top 10s. During his 2000 Cup championship season, Labonte earned two of his four wins in the Brickyard 400 and the Southern 500.
  • Tony Stewart earned three NASCAR Cup Series championships. Two of his titles came for Joe Gibbs Racing (2002, 2005). A third title, in 2011, came as a driver-owner with his co-owned Stewart-Haas Racing team.  Stewart racked up 49 Cup wins – visiting Victory Lane on every style of track.
  • A dual-threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Waddell Wilson provided the power to some of the greatest drivers, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Baker, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. As an engine builder he won three Cup championships (David Pearson, 1968 and 1969; Benny Parson, 1993), 109 races and 123 poles. As a crew chief, Wilson guided his drivers to 22 wins, including three DATONA 500 victories (Buddy Baker, 1980; Cale Yarborough, 1983 and 1984).

RACING WORLD REMEMBERS JOHN ANDRETTI

The racing community is remembering John Andretti, one day after he passed away after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.  Several in the racing community took to social media to share their thoughts and stories including his Godfather A.J. Foyt as well as Richard Petty.  John Andretti’s son Jarett thanked everyone for their support and asked for fans to share their stories about his father so he could share them with the family.

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FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR JOHN ANDRETTI

The Andretti family has released funeral service information for John Andretti, one of the most popular and versatile American race drivers of his generation. Andretti died Thursday, Jan. 30, after a long, courageous battle with colon cancer.

The family will receive friends on Monday, February 3, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by Eulogy and Prayer Service beginning at 7 p.m. at St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville, NC.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, February 6, at 1 p.m., at Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral Catholic Church in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. prior to the Mass at the church. Private burial will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to:

Window World Cares
118 Shaver Street
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659
http://www.windowworldcares.com

Riley’s Children’s Foundation
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste 200
Indianapolis, IN 46024
https://www.rileykids.org

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Racing Notebook – Monday, July 5: Weekend Racing Recap and more

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Monday’s Racing Notebook takes a look back at a historic weekend of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as this weekend’s local action from Lernerville, Jennerstown, PA and OH Sprint Car Speedweek  plus President Trump wants an apology from Bubba Wallace:

Harvick Wins 3rd Brickyard 400:

  • Kevin Harvick picked up his third Brickyard 400 victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday holding off Chip Ganassi Racing’s Matt Kenseth in overtime.  Denny Hamlin was also one of the strongest cars at IMS on Sunday until he blew a tire late in the race.  Check out our recap here.

Reutzel Wins At Fremont Speedway:

  • Aaron Reutzel was victorious on Sunday at Fremont Speedway in the Ollies Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions feature. Paul McMahan finished second and Lee Jacobs finished third.  It was the third straight podium finish for Reutzel in Ohio Sprint Speedweek competition.

Scott Dixon Wins GMR Grand Prix at IMS:

  • PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon started off the historic INDYCAR/NASCAR tripleheader at IMS on Saturday by capturing the checkered flag in the GMR Grand Prix.  Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal was second followed by Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud.  Check out our recap here.

Chase Briscoe Wins Xfinity Series Race at IMS:

  • Indiana native Chase Briscoe was the winner of the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Justin Haley finished second followed by Noah Gragson.  The next race for the Xfinity Series is July 9, 2020 at Kansas Speedway

Kyle Larson Wins at Port Royal to capture PA Speedweek Title:

  • Kyle Larson captured the Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek Championship and did it in style by winning the 410 feature at Port Royal Speedway Saturday night.  Larson held off Brent Marks and Rico Abreu to capture his first win at “The Speed Palace” and his first PA Sprint Car Speedweek title.  Check out our recap here.
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Bubba Pollard Gets CARS win at Jennerstown; Heim 6th:

  • Bubba Pollard won the Inaugural Thomas Automotive American Freedom 300 at the Jennerstown Speedway Complex. It was Pollard’s second win in as many CARS Tour races after claiming the checkered flag at Hickory Motor Speedway in June.  Sammy Smith finished second followed by Jake Garcia.  Corey Heim, who has relatives in the area and was a guest on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast finished 6th.

Buddy Kofoid Takes Night 2 Of Ohio Sprint Speedweek:

  • Buddy Kofoid started on the pole position and led wire-to-wire to capture the checkered flag in the second night Ohio Sprint Car Speedweek.  Kofoid was barely challenged except on three restart where he prevailed.  Aaron Reutzel finished second followed by Cole Duncan.

Friday Winners From Lernerville:

  • Erick Rudolph took home the checkered flag in the BRP Modified Tour main event at Lernerville Speedway coming from the rear of the field to hold off Rex King Sr. and Garrett Krummert.  Michael Bauer picked up his first career victory in the Peoples Natural Gas DIRTcar 410 Sprint feature.  Tyler Dietz beat Daryl Charlier and Corey McPherson to win the Millerstown Pic-A-Part RUSH/DIRTcar Pro Stocks main event and Greg Dobrosky won the Allegheny Sprint Tour 305 feature.

Cap Henry Wins Ohio Speedweek Opener:

  • Cap Henry opened up Ohio Sprint Speedweek by picking up his second career All Star Circuit of Champions feature win Friday night at Attica Raceway Park.  Buddy Kofoid finished second followed by Aaron Reutzel.

Trump Says Wallace Should Apologize:

  • President Donald Trump thinks NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace should apologize for the noose incident last month at Talladega, calling it a “hoax” in a tweet.  See both Trump’s and Wallace’s response below:

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PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon Wins GMR Grand Prix At Indianapolis

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Chris Owens

SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon picked up his 48th career win by taking the checkered flag in Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES GMR Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s so good to be back here racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Dixon, a 5-time Series Champion.  “We’ve had so many runner-up finishes on the road course it was just nice to win one.”

Dixon, who finished second in the event the past three years, beat Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal by 20-seconds to pick up back-to-back wins to start a season for the first time in his illustrious career.

“It’s amazing to be able to pick up the first two wins of the season,” said Dixon.  “But it doesn’t guarantee anything.  We’ll just keep our heads down, we’ll keep trying to stay up front and get some points.  It’s a great way to start but it doesn’t cement anything.”

Dixon is now 4-wins behind the legendary Mario Andretti (52 wins) for second place on the all-time INDYCAR wins list.  A.J. Foyt is the all-time wins leader with 67.

“It’s amazing to be in the same conversation as these people,” said Dixon.  “I remember looking back and watching races of Mario when I first came to America in 1997 and watching races of A.J. Foyt.  They’re legends of the sport.  I just feel lucky to be doing what I’m doing.  It’s not just me.  It’s the team behind us, it’s the partners like PNC Bank, it’s Chip, it’s Honda, it’s hundreds of people that make it possible so I just feel very special to be a part of it.”

Rahal’s 2nd place finish in the Fifth Third Bank Honda tied his best finish at the Indy GP which happened back in 2015.

“The Fifth Third Bank car was great today,” said Rahal.  “I thought our guys did a tremendous job.  Dixie had tremendous pace in the mid part of the race.  I was on black (Firestone Primary) tires struggling a little bit.  For our team after Dallas this feels really good.”

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud finished third after starting deep in the field in the 20th position.

“Yesterday was not the day we wanted in qualifying,” said Pagenaud, who won last year’s GMR Grand Prix.  “We unloaded well and went in the wrong direction.  It was a negative for a positive because I think it sets us up this season really early on knowing what we need for the car.  We weren’t totally happy when we started the race and we adjusted the car and it got better and better.”

Pagenaud’s Team Penske teammate Will Power started on the pole position and led the first 18-laps when the team decided to scrap plans for a 2-pit stop strategy after other teams decided that abandon that same strategy for 3-stop efforts.

Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey, who started second, inherited the lead until his pit stop on lap 19.

Rahal, who started fourth and moved up to third place by turn one, took the lead at that point and stuck with a three-stop strategy and reeled off quick laps until his first stop on lap 26.

Power regained the lead after the remainder of the cars on the two-stop strategy pitted for service.

Midway through the race a number of drivers on the three-stop strategy hit pit road for their second stops. Shortly thereafter Arrow McLaren SP’s Oliver Askew lost control coming onto the front stretch and smacked the wall hard bringing out the first caution of the race on lap 36.

“Really unfortunate,” said Askew, the 2019 IndyLights Champion and a rookie in NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition.  “Unacceptable to have a result like that to be honest.  I just lost the rear of the car.  It was towards the end of my stint so the rears (tires) were starting to go away and it just really caught me off guard.”

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Power and everyone who had not made their second stop hit pit road during the caution period on lap 39.

Several drivers including Rahal, Citrone-Buhl with RLL’s Spencer Pigot and Dixon stayed out.

“We started on the black tires and that sent us on a pretty aggressive 3-stopper,” explained Dixon.  “That’s when our window was to pit and then three or four laps later the yellow came out and we were the ones that cycled to the front.  Definitely a little bit of luck there and it hung out the leaders for sure but we had the pace.”

Rahal led the field back to green on lap 40 with Pigot, Conor Daly and Dixon closely behind.

On lap 42, a frustrating start to the 2020 season for Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi continued as he suffered a mechanical issue forcing and end to his day.  Rossi’s car failed to start at the beginning of the season opener at Texas where he eventually rallied to a 15th place finish.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Rossi. “We just lost power when we started trying to get going again.  I think it potentially is a fuel pressure issue.  We’ve had a couple of fuel pressure gremlins throughout the weekend.  It’s a shame to have two of these weekends in-a-row.”

Dixon got around Daly on that same lap to move into third place with Colton Herta in tow.  Dixon passed Pigot on lap 45, trailing Rahal by just under one second, so the battle of the banking sponsors was on.

Three laps later Dixon passed Rahal on the front stretch to take the lead. Dixon quickly built a five-second lead in just two laps, up to 8-seconds after nine laps and 9.3-seconds after ten laps.

Rahal hit pit road for his final service on lap 55 along with Pagenaud.

Dixon brought the No. 9 Honda to pit road a lap later, coming out in ninth place after service by his “Wolfpack” crew.

Pigot and Herta hit pit road for service a lap later and the pair came out in 13th and 14th respectively.

Josef Newgarden inherited the lead through that pit stop cycle and stayed out front until lap 62 when he came to pit road, giving the lead back to Dixon.

Dixon kept the hammer down, building a lead of over 15-seconds with ten laps to go in the race, 18-seconds with seven laps remaining, 18.7 seconds with five laps remaining, 19.5 with three laps to go and 20-seconds with one lap to go.

With Dixon checking out, the battle was on for second place between Rahal and Pagenaud with Rahal prevailing.

The most drama for Dixon and the entire PNC team were off-track excursions by Andretti Autosport drivers Marco Andretti and Zach Veach, who both cruised through the grass with less than five-laps remaining, however both were able to get back on track without brining out a caution.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to Road America next weekend for a doubleheader on the scenic, natural terrain road course.

GMR Grand Prix Results

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Team Penske’s Will Power Wins GMR Grand Prix Pole Position

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SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Will Power is on the Pole Position for Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES GMR Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Power’s fast lap of 110.1779-seconds (125.116 mph) was good enough to earn the former series Champion the 58th pole position of his career.

“We left nothing on the table in that lap in the Verizon Chevrolet,” said Power. “I knew that (Jack) Harvey had a pretty good time up there, so we put our best set on for the last run, and I just gave it my all. Fortunately, it was enough.”

Power’s pole win spoiled a terrific lap by Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey (1:10.3653/124.783), who will start second in the SiriusXM/AutoNation Honda.

“I thought we were pretty good in practice one,” said Harvey.  “Everybody at Meyer Shank Racing has been working their butt’s off to give us a really good car.  The car clearly was really good to be on the front row, which we haven’t done before.  We’re just really happy and hopefully will have a great race.”

Colton Herta will start in the third position after a fast-lap of 110.5197-seconds.

Graham Rahal will line up fourth in the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda, his best qualifying effort in the GMR Grand Prix.

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“The Fifth Third Bank car feels strong,” said Rahal.  “We know we race better than we qualify so it’s a good start for us.  We certainly didn’t have Will’s (Power) speed.  We’ll take fourth and go race from there.”

Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew will start fifth after a fast lap of 110.8404-seconds (123.946).

“We made some really good changes after the morning practice,” said Askew, the 2019 IndyLight’s Champion.  “It was just flawless.  I felt at one with the car and those are some really good feelings.”

Starting positions six through ten include two series Champions and a surprise or two.

Defending and two-time series Champion Josef Newgarden will start sixth after a tough start to his fast lap on the Firestone Red (Alternate) tires.

“I came out of the pits and just had a huge lock-up to start the lap going into the first corner,” said Newgarden.  “It just kind of snuck up on me.  It hadn’t done that all day.”

GMR Grand Prix Qualifying

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