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Racing Notebook – Friday, January 31

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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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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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