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Racing Notebook – Wednesday, February 5

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Team Penske's Scott McLaughlin tests IndyCar at Sebring International Raceway this past January (Photo: Team Penske)

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Wednesday’s Racing Notebook finds Team Penske bringing Supercars Champ to Indy for GP, plus Graham Rahal’s No. 15 United Rentals Honda gets a new Patriotic look.  NASCAR is changing their Hall of Fame process and the Super DIRTcar Series kicks off the DIRTcar Nationals tonight in Florida.

Team Penske Bringing Supercars Scott McLaughlin To Indy:

  • Team Penske is bringing defending Virgin Australia Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin to the NTT IndyCar Series GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.  McLaughlin tested with Team Penske last month at Sebring International Raceway and will test next week at IndyCar Spring Training at Circuit of the Americas (COTA).  McLaughlin will attempt to win his third consecutive Supercars title in 2020 with DJR Team Penske.  The GMR Grand Prix takes place Saturday, May 9th.

Graham Rahal’s United Rentals Honda Gets A New Paint Job:

  • Graham Rahal’s No. 15 United Rentals Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda will be sporting a new look in 2020.  The car has always had a patriotic scheme but Rahal took to his Twitter account to show everyone the new livery:
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Super DIRTcar Series DIRTcar Nationals Start Tonight:

  • The Super DIRTcar Series kicks off five-nights of racing at Volusia Speedway Park.  DIRTcar Hall of Famer and defending Lernerville modified Champion Brian Swartzlander is carrying the Western PA color along with Rick Regalski and Ralph McBride.  The Super DIRTcar Series runs in conjunction with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models for four out of the five nights of racing. The Late Model events are full points shows and pay $10,000-to-win.  The Super DIRTcar Series purse has been raised as well. Tuesday-Friday the 30-lap Features pay $3,000-to-win and $250-to-start. The finale on Saturday, February 15 awards $5,000 to the winner of the 40-lap Feature with $300 to take the green flag.  Also tonight at Volusia, George Hobaugh, Tim Shaffer and John Garvin will be racing with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars.

NASCAR Modifies Hall of Fame Process:

  • NASCAR is changing the process to get into their Hall of Fame. reducing the annual number of inductees from five to three and splitting potential nominees into two ballots – one for contemporary stars and one for the sport’s pioneers.  Starting with the upcoming Class of 2021, the existing Nomination Committee will provide 10 nominees for the Modern Era Ballot. A new Honors Committee – largely comprised of all living Hall of Famers, Landmark Award winners and Squier-Hall Award winners – will evaluate and provide five nominees for the Pioneer Ballot.
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IndyCar

INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NBC Network announced on Tuesday a multi-year extension to the media rights of the open wheel series.

NBC Sports will continue to be the exclusive home of the Indianapolis 500 and will provide coverage of all NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, qualifying, practices and Indy Lights races across its linear, digital and streaming platforms, including Peacock. Terms of the deal were not announced.

“NBC Sports is proud to extend its partnership with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and continue to serve as the exclusive home of the most competitive open-wheel racing series in the world and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Jon Miller, NBC Sports.

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“NBC Sports has been the ideal partner for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, bringing our bold and audacious style of racing to a significantly larger domestic audience and fully leveraging the power and scale of the Indianapolis 500,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “This new deal represents a significant expansion of our network TV exposure and sets us up for continued growth and success alongside a committed, innovative and world-class broadcast partner.”

INDYCAR and NBC are enjoying strong ratings for the 2021.  Ratings are up 30% this year.

As part of the agreement, 13 races will be broadcast on NBC. USA Network and Peacock Premium will show the remaining races. Telemundo Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage of the season-opening race, the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale.

Peacock will stream all races on NBC and USA Network and will continue as the streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying and practices sessions, Indy Lights races and full-event replays. Peacock will stream two races exclusively, which will be announced at a later date.

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Dirt Racing

Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship

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NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott joined the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) for their season finale at Nashville Fairgrounds and took home the checkered flag beating Tony Stewart and his father Bill Elliott in the feature.  The win was the first series victory for the younger Elliott.

Chase Elliott was on the inside with Stewart on the outside on a restart with 7-laps-to-go followed by Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte in Row 2.

Chase Elliott beat Stewart into turn one and two with Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte side-by-side for third.

Caution came out with 5-laps-to-go when Paul Tracy made contact with Marco Andretti, sending Andretti into a spin after picking up three spots following the restart.

Chase Elliott got the jump on Stewart on the restart and held on to pick up the win. Stewart finished second and took home the inaugural series Championship.

“Man it was so much fun,” said Chase Elliott.  “I had a ball.  I got to race against two of my heroes tonight and I got to race against Dad there throughout the race and those are moments that I’ll cherish forever.  Thanks to Ray (Evernham, Series co-owner) and Tony (Stewart, Series co-owner) and I appreciate NAPA being on the car.”

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NASCAR Hall-of-famer Bill Elliott, 65, finished third and picked up a win in the first heat race where he started side-by-side with his son Chase.

“I messed up in one not getting all the stuff (marbles) off my tires,” said Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup Series Champion.  “Man I tell you it was a lot of fun. I knew the way the tires were on these cars and the way Chase manages his stuff he was going to be tough to beat.”

“I don’t know what lit a fire under him tonight,” said Chase Elliott.  “But he was as aggressive as I have seen him in years.  It was amazing and a lot of fun.  I thought it was going to be between he and I but he got a little high going into (turn) one.”

The win was also special for the Elliott Family as they were able to park the No. 94 in Victory Lane.  Casey Elliott, the late son of legendary engine builder Ernie Elliott, raced the No. 94 in the ARCA and Busch (now Xfinity) Series before his life was cut short by cancer.

“Obviously a special number too,” said Chase Elliott.  “My late Cousin Casey Elliott ran the 94 for years and years and it’s always special to run that number and I’m glad we were able to get it in Victory Lane at Nashville.”

“How could you ask for more than to finish between two Elliott’s, that’s pretty bad-ass in itself,” said Stewart. “To win this Championship is awesome.  I really appreciate Marcus Lemonis and everyone at Camping World for stepping up and helping us get this thing off the ground.  To be the last guy to win an IROC Championship and the first one to win an SRX Championship means a lot.”

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IndyCar

Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio

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Joe Skibinski

LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden picked up his, and Team Penske’s, first win of 2021 holding off Marcus Ericsson to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Newgarden started on the pole position and led 73-of-80-laps to pick up his first win since the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“This team has been doing the job,” said Newgarden. “Everyone has been giving me a hard time, asking what’s up with us not winning a race. But I don’t think these people at Team Penske could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race, had great performance. It’s great to seal a win here finally.”

Newgarden spoiled a tremendous afternoon for Chip Ganassi Racing, the winningest INDYCAR team at Mid-Ohio.

CGR’s Ericsson finished second, 0.8790-seconds behind Newgarden.  The second place finish was Ericsson’s seventh top-10 finish of 2021.

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“We were hunting him down there,” said Ericsson. “He (Newgarden) was really struggling with his tires the last five laps. Just catching him quickly. Another lap or two would be even better, but I’ll take second today.”

Ericsson’s CGR teammate Alex Palou and Scott Dixon finished third and fourth respectively to give Chip Ganassi three cars in the top 5.

“It’s always good to start P7 and you finish on the podium,” said Palou. “Yeah, I think today was a good result.”

“I think it was a great day, great day for the team, to have me, Alex and Scott, P2, P3 and P4,” said Ericsson. “It’s a strong result. Shows how strong we are at the moment”

Palou remains the Championship points leader, 39 points ahead of Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP. Dixon is third, 56 points behind Palou. Newgarden remained fourth, 69 points back of the leader, and Ericsson jumped three positions to take fifth in the standings, 104 points behind Palou.

INDYCAR Mid Ohio Results

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