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Racing Notebook – Thursday, February 6

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Red Bull/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Thursday’s Pittsburgh Racing Now “Racing Notebook” includes a “Joyride At Indy” after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway loses the “keys to the track”.  A new look for the No. 10 NTT Data Services Chip Ganassi Racing Honda driven by Felix Rosenqvist, the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year.  Plus, IndyCar to livestream next week’s test at COTA; Brad Sweet starts 2020 like he finished 2019, in victory lane; A new member of the RUSH Sprints; a familiar sponsor returns for another year with Front Row Motorsports and an emotional day for the Andretti family as John is laid to rest.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Misplaces The Keys To The Track:

  • Imagine getting the opportunity to use the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as your playground.  That’s exactly what happened for NTT IndyCar star Alexander Rossi, action sports legend Travis Pastrana and freestyle motocross rider Gregg Duffy.  A new video released by Red Bull shows what happened when IMS lost the keys to the track and the drivers/riders called “their guy”.  Check out the video below:

 

Felix Rosenqvist’s No. 10 NTT Data Services Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Gets A New Look:

  • The No. 10 NTT Data Services Chip Ganassi Racing Honda of 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year Felix Rosenqvist is sporting a totally different look in 2020.  The NTT IndyCar Season starts in a little of a month with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Sunday, March 15.  The Ganassi team took to their Social Media accounts to debut the striking paint scheme:

IndyCar To Livestream Next Week’s Test At Circuit of the Americas:

  • The NTT IndyCar Series is going to stream next week’s full-field test from Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, TX. Twenty-six drivers in 25-cars are scheduled to participate in the test, which will be streamed live on Tuesday and Wednesday on the IndyCar Mobile App and on IndyCar.com.
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Brad Sweet Grabs Win Thursday Night At Volusia Speedway Park:

  • Brad Sweet earned himself another Gator Trophy in the Sunshine State, this time climbing ahead two spots to clinch the DIRTcar Nationals sprint car opening night victory on Wednesday evening at Volusia Speedway Park. The win, the fifth of Sweet’s career during All Star Circuit of Champions competition, secured the defending World of Outlaws champion a $5,000 payday; his second All Star triumph in as many seasons at the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile Dirt Track’.  Ian Madsen finished second followed by Cory Eliason, Kyle Larson and James McFadden.

Cabot’s Jeremy Scruggs Joins RUSH Sprints:

  • The RUSH Sprint Car Series took to social media on Thursday to welcome Jeremy Scruggs to the Series:

Love’s Travel Stops Returns To Front Row Motorsports:

  • Love’s Travel Stops will return to Front Row Motorsports (FRM) aboard the No. 34 Ford Mustang, driven by Michael McDowell. Love’s Travel Stops will serve as the primary sponsor on McDowell’s No. 34 Ford Mustang for multiple races in the 2020 season, including the season-opening Daytona 500 later this month, both NASCAR Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway and the spring weekend at the company’s home track of Texas Motor Speedway. Love’s will remain as an associate sponsor throughout the year.

The No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang and Driver Michael McDowell.

John Andretti Laid To Rest After A “Final Lap”:

  • John Andretti, a second-generation racer who ran in IndyCar, NASCAR, IMSA and the NHRA was laid to rest today.  Following a Christian mass the funeral procession made one “final lap” around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in honor of Andretti, who lost his battle with colon cancer (#CheckIt4Andretti) last week at the age of 56-years-old.  Andretti’s legendary Uncle Mario was moved by the gesture:

IndyCar

Racing Notebook – Ohio Racing Gets Red Flagged; New Series from Stewart and Evernham plus Weekend Winner Recap

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Steve Skarupa Photography

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Monday’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has details on new restrictions placed on events in Ohio plus Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are teaming up to start a new series and we look back at the winners on track this past weekend.

New Restrictions On Events In Ohio:

  • The Ohio Department of Health has mandated activities to be limited in the state of Ohio due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions are forcing Sharon Speedway to cancel this Saturday’s events, including the RUSH Late Model Series “Bill Forney Memorial”.  Sharon Speedway plans on resuming their 2020 schedule of events when the restrictions are lifted.

Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham Starting New Series:

  • NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are teaming up to start a new racing series.  The Sports Business Journal first reported the deal, which includes former NASCAR executive George Pyne and sports agent Sandy Montag.  The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) will feature six races on short tracks and will include top drivers from a variety of backgrounds.  The SRX will be similar in scope the defunct IROC Series and is set to debut in 2021 and will be televised by CBS Sports.

Cole Custer Gets 1st Career Cup Win At Kentucky:

  • Stewart Haas Racing’s Cole Custer picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory Sunday at Kentucky Speedway winning a thrilling battle on the last lap with saw Custer four-wide with Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Blaney.  Truex held on for second and Matt DiBenedetto finished third.

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Chip Ganassi Racing Sweeps Road America:

Larson and Conley Take Sharon Speedway wins:

Saturday Winners At Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway:

  • Chas Wolbert picked up his second straight win taking the RUSH Sportsman Modified 15-lap main event. Keith Barbara picked up his first win of the season in the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series 20-lap feature.  Jason Fosnaught was victorious in the PPMS Pro Stock division.  Stephen Shelpman continued to dominate the Keystone Coach Works Hobby Stock division with another victory. Philip and Noah Bubeck were each victorious in the Four Cylinder and Young Guns divisions respectively.

Saturday Winners At Jennerstown Speedway:

  • Defending Track Champion, Teddy Gibala won for the first time this season in the Martella’s Pharmacies Late Model division of racing, becoming the fourth different winner in four events. Also celebrating in Stoney’s Beer Victory Lane were R.J. Dallape (Stoystown Auto Wreckers Modifieds), Aaron Van Fleet (Ron’s Collision Center Street Stocks), Dale Kimberly (Farmers Union Co-Op Chargers), and Evan Nibert (Somerset Trust Company Fast ‘n Furious 4-Cylinders).

Matt Kenseth’s New Colors For All-Star Race:

  • Wednesday’s NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race at Bristol Motor Speedway is going to feature a different style paint scheme that fans are not used to seeing on race cars.  The number and some sponsor placement is moving.  Here is a look at the McDonald’s Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 of Matt Kenseth:

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Felix Rosenqvist Wins First INDYCAR Race At Road America As Chip Ganassi Racing Sweeps The Weekend

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Joe Skibinski

ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist passed Pato O’Ward on the second to the last lap to grab his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES win Sunday in race two of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America.

“It feels so good,” said Rosenqvist.  “It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times. This race was for my No. 10 car crew, the NTT DATA crew.”

Rosenqvist was trailing O’Ward by over 5-seconds following the final set of pit stops but made up that gap over the final 13-laps to grab the win.

“We had so much pace,” said Rosenqvist. “We kept closing in half a second every lap. And then when they said Pato (O’Ward) was on the used reds (Firestone alternate tires), you obviously get a lot of faith that he might drop off in the end, and that’s what happened. I’m really proud to be powered by HPD and Honda this year. It’s been really good.”

The victory was Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth straight INDYCAR Series win to open the 2020 season and also gave CGR the weekend sweep following Scott Dixon’s win on Saturday in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

“First off, huge congrats to Felix (Rosenqvist) for that drive,” said Dixon. “I’m so happy for him and NTT DATA. It’s another win for them at Road America. We all knew this moment was coming for Felix, and it was just a matter of time. What a start for CGR and Honda, though. Four-for-four on the season.”

“It’s four out of four for Ganassi, which is huge,” said Rosenqvist. “What amazing feeling. I’m so glad we had the John McCain tribute on the car, and to be able to do this for NTT DATA and the family really means a lot to us at the team.”

McCain is the late former Chairman and CEO of NTT DATA SERVICES who passed away in February after a battle with glioblastoma.

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O’Ward held on for second place as his tires were wearing out and he was trying to save fuel to make it to the end.

“It was really tough,” said O’Ward. “The Ganassi cars and Felix (Rosenqvist) had a lot of pace. We did a really good job managing the whole race. I gave it every single little bit that I had. I was pushing, pushing, pushing but I couldn’t keep Felix behind me.”

Alexander Rossi’s nightmarish start to the 2020 season was tempered by a third place finish at Road America.

“After the last couple races, it’s good to finish on the lead lap,” said Rossi.

The newest member of the Ganassi team, Marcus Ericsson, came home fourth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda.  Ericsson passed the most cars on the day, gaining 12-spots from his 16th starting position.

“It was a great race, and I feel we got a great result for the guys and Huski Chocolate,” said Ericsson. “We had a ton of pace and a lot of great overtakes. Honda and HPD power was fantastic, and we really had a great car.”

Dixon had an uncharacteristic finish of 12th.  Dixon started sixth and survived mayhem at the start when Will Power tagged Ryan Hunter Reay going into turn one and then tagged Graham Rahal in Turn 3, ending both of their days.

“Not the day we wanted with the PNC Bank car, but we fought balance and the rear tires just kept going away,” said Dixon. I guess you can’t win them all, but we sure tried to with the start to the season we’ve had.”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES moves on to Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader on Friday and Saturday night.

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PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon Wins 3rd INDYCAR Race In-A-Row

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Chris Owens

ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won his third straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES race Saturday at Road America, holding off Team Penske’s Will Power on a couple of late restarts to grab the victory.

“I don’t know how that happened,” said Dixon in Victory Lane.  “Huge thank you to everybody on the PNC Bank team.  The car was really hard to drive this morning but we dialed it in a little better during the race.  That was awesome man”.

“It was a good drive,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi.  “We didn’t start exactly where we wanted to today but he persevered.”

Dixon’s crew made a crucial decision during the second round of pit stops to call Dixon in early while he was stuck in traffic running sixth.

Dixon came out of the pits ahead of the traffic alongside a hard-charging Power, who pitted a lap before the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.  While Dixon and Power were battling it out, the leader of the race Josef Newgarden came to pit road.

Disaster stuck for Newgarden when he stalled the car on pit road. Team Penske got the PPG Chevy restarted and the defending series Champion returned to the field in 15th position.

The pit-stop cycle shuffled the running order and Power and Dixon found themselves at the front of the pack followed by Santino Ferrucci in the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Honda.

“We came out of the pits they’re (the team) like ‘you and Power first and second’ and I was like ‘how?'” marveled Dixon.

The trio had a 5-second lead on fourth place Ryan Hunter-Reay with 20-laps left in the 55-lap event.  Three laps later the caution flag came out for this week’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast guest Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing. Harvey suffered brake failure, sending the No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM Honda into the gravel trap.

“I went into the corner at Turn Three and my brakes locked up and the wheels spun,” said Harvey. “There wasn’t much I could do when the brakes failed in that way. All year we’ve had a fast car and that is what is frustrating because this was a weekend that we could have had a top five. Something randomly happened that took us out of contention which is greatly disappointing for myself and the whole Meyer Shank Racing team. I know that we have the speed and these guys will work hard to figure out exactly what went wrong so that we can come back equally as strong tomorrow.”

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Dixon’s “Wolfpack” crew executed a flawless pit stop under caution giving the 5-time series Champion the lead off pit road ahead of Power.

Dixon took the ensuing green flag with 14-laps-to-go and held off Power going into Turn 1 but before the lap was even complete, the caution was back out when Conor Daly was sent off the track by contact with Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward as the pair went into Turn 7.

“It really hard to go 2-wide through there but I had enough of a run you’ve got to take a chance,” said Daly.  “I don’t really race with him that much but it was tough there, that’s probably on both of us.”

The subsequent restart saw Dixon get away from Power but the yellow came out again when rookie A.J. Foyt Racing driver Dalton Kellett ended up in the gravel in Turn 14.

The green flag came back out with 8-laps to go and Dixon beat Power into Turn 1 and rookie Alex Palou beat Hunter-Reay to get third place.

Dixon built a lead of 1.2-seconds in one lap, 1.6-seconds in two laps and maintained that lead with 5-laps to go. Dixon extended the lead to 1.8-seconds with 4-laps to go, 2.3-seconds with three laps to go and 2.5-seconds with one lap to go.

The win was Dixon’s 49th career win leaving him three shy of INDYCAR legend Mario Andretti for 2nd place on the all-time wins list.  The victory marks the 2nd time Dixon has won three races in a row.  The first time was in 2013 when Dixon won Pocono and both Toronto races.

“It’s not me man,” said Dixon.  “The team does such an amazing job to cover all the bases.  We’re in the business of winning so we’ve got to win.  Proud of everybody on this team and obviously our partners like PNC Bank and Honda.  It’s really cool to win today.”

Dixon goes into tomorrow’s second race at Road America with a 62-point lead over Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the INDYCAR Championship standing.

Dixon will look to make it four-straight wins to start the NTT INDYCAR SERIES tomorrow in Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader at noon (ET, NBC) from Road America.

Road America Race 1 Results

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