PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The second big race weekend of 2020 is here as the ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) cars hit the track at Daytona International Speedway for practice with all eyes on Hailie Deegan. Arrow McLaren SP unveils their cars for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series. Max Chilton is returning to the NTT IndyCar Series. Aaron Reutzel captures the checkered flag at Thursday’s DIRTcar Nationals. The RUSH Late Model Series adds a track for 2020 and tons of sponsor news including Tony Stewart Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and Rudolph Motorsports.
ARCA Cars Hit Track For Two Practice Sessions:
- The ARCA Series took to the high-banks of Daytona International Speedway on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire. Plenty of eyes in the racing world will be on 18-year-old Hailie Deegan, who is moving up to ARCA after driving Late Models. Deegan was the fastest in the first practice, turning a fast lap of 49.027-seconds (183.572 MPH) in the DGR Crosley Ford Mustang. In the Twitter posting below she talks about drafting at Daytona:
“That was crazy.” 🤯
— ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) February 7, 2020
Arrow McLaren SP Unveils 2020 IndyCar Livery:
- Arrow McLaren SP unveiled their cars for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series and drivers Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew and used their social media platforms to do it:
— Arrow McLaren SP (@ArrowMcLarenSP) February 7, 2020
Max Chilton And Gallagher Returning To Carlin Racing:
- Carlin Racing announced the return of driver Max Chilton and sponsor Gallagher to the Chevy-powered NTT IndyCar Series team. Chilton will be in the cockpit of the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet for the 12 road and street course events in 2020 as well as the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Gallagher is a leading global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firm.
Aaron Reutzel Grabs All Star Circuit of Champions Win Thursday Night In Florida:
- Aaron Reutzel took home the checkered flag in Thursday nights All-Star Circuit of Champions DIRTcar Nationals win at Volusia Speedway Park. The victory was Reutzel’s 26th of his career and first-ever at Volusia. Defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Brad Sweet finished second followed by Ian Madsen, Donny Schatz and James McFadden.
Tony Stewart Racing And Advance Auto Parts Expand Partnership:
- Tony Stewart and Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing (TSR) are pleased to announce that Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider that serves both professional installers and do-it-yourself customers, will continue its role within TSR in 2020 boosting its position to a primary sponsor. Advance and its family of brands, including Advance Professional, Carquest and TechNet Professional Automotive Service, will be primary partners for TSR during the new year and will be carried by 10-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Champion Donny Schatz, and Tony Stewart Racing team-owner, Tony Stewart.
Air Force Returns To Sponsor Bubba Wallace And Richard Petty Motorsports:
- Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) and the United States Air Force will once again join forces for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season. For the 12th consecutive season, the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service, charged with the mission to inspire, engage and recruit future Airmen, will continue the partnership with the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE driven by Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Cup Series. The No. 43 Chevy will again display the iconic teeth of the A-10 Warthog for the second consecutive year. The special U.S. Air Force “Warthog” scheme debuted at the Daytona International Speedway in 2019, and was an instant favorite among fans.
NEWS: RPM Continues to Aim High with U.S. Air Force
— Richard Petty Motorsports (@RPMotorsports) February 7, 2020
RUSH Late Models Adds Bradford Speedway to 2020 Schedule:
- The RUSH Lates Model announced that Bradford Speedway is returning to the schedule for 2020:
Excited to announce the addition of Bradford to our 2020 Tour schedule. Bradford will join w/ @OutlawSpeedPR & Genesee making for a 3-night northern swing May 29-31. Bradford's will be a Platinum Event on Sunday, May 31 & the first time since the only Tour race back in 2017! pic.twitter.com/rA7YDWmfvH
— RUSH Late Models (@RUSHLM) February 7, 2020
Rudolph Motorsports Brew House Racing Continues Partnership:
- Rudolph Motorsports Brew House Racing has announced that Around Back Restaurant is returning as a partner for the 2020 season. Around Back Restaurant joins Pittsburgh Board and Brush and the Gibsonia Giant Eagle who are also partnering with the team. Chris Rudolph took to his social media accounts to announce the good news:
We are happy to announce that Around Back Restaurant has returned as a partner for 2020. If your looking for a place for dinner or drinks with friends stop out and see these folks. The food here is awesome !! See the website for menu and location. https://t.co/QO5OfmaD44 pic.twitter.com/HqtVFSVIFq
— Chris Rudolph (@rudyracer25) February 7, 2020
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou Wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – In just his first year with the team Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou is your 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion.
Palou’s 4th-place finish in Sunday’s season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach guaranteed the 24-year-old native of Spain his first INDYCAR Championship in his second season and the Ganassi team their 14th title since 1996.
“This team is amazing,” said Palou. “I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. What a race, what a year, what a season.”
“People win Championships,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The driver, the team, and especially the people behind the scenes, leaving the shop in the winter when it’s dark out and snowing, that don’t get the notoriety.”
Palou started the race in tenth position in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. Palou’s closest Championship rival, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, started the race in eighth position. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden started on the pole position with Palou’s CGR teammate Scott Dixon alongside in second place in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
Newgarden took the lead in turn one with Dixon in tow as the field took the green flag. The race wasn’t even 2-laps old when Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones made an ambitious attempt to pass James Hinchcliffe, but made contact with O’Ward with Palou right behind Jones!
📲: INDYCAR APP – https://t.co/vyuISIyifv
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
O’Ward brought out the caution flag a short time later on lap 20 when the right rear driveshaft failed on the front stretch.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
The caution flag shuffled the field as some cars went to pit road for service while other cars stayed out to gain track position, giving the lead to Helio Castroneves, who took a turn at the front of the field until he went to pit road on lap 34, giving the lead to Colton Herta.
Herta earned his turn at the front as he was making moves through the field throughout the race and following the last restart, it was Newgarden and Dixon giving chase. Palou was behind Dixon in fourth doing what he needed to get the car to the checkered flag in one piece.
Herta pulled away in the end to a .5883-second victory, his ?? win of 2021. Newgarden finished second to jump O’Ward for second in the Championship, 38-points behind Palou.
Dixon finished third followed by Palou in fourth. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud rounded out the Top 5.
Alexander Rossi, Jack Harvey, Sebastian Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Will Power made up spots 6 through 10.
Honda claimed the Engine Manufacturer’s Championship for the fourth straight year.
Josef Newgarden wins pole position for INDYCAR Acura Long Beach Grand Prix
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Newgarden’s fast lap of 1-minute, 8.2241-seconds around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit was .2181-seconds faster than Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
The pole position and valuable Championship point is exactly what Newgarden needs to do to win his third series title. Newgarden enters the race in third position in the standings, 48-points behind leader Alex Palou, and must win, lead the most laps and hope Palou finishes 25th or worse.
“It’s very improbable for us to win this championship,” Newgarden said. “So, our goal is to win the race tomorrow. Let’s finish our season on a high note, and we’ll see what happens. I think it’s pretty unlikely, but you never say never in this sport.”
The only other driver with a shot at the Championship is Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who will start eighth in the 28-car field. O’Ward also needs to win and hope for Palou to finish 25th or worse.
“Our car has been good,” said O’Ward. “We didn’t roll off the best, but I think we made some really good changes, just kept improving. We had enough for the Fast 6.”
Palou will start 10th in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Palou and O’Ward were on flying laps when they were forced to slow for a local yellow for Will Power, costing both valuable lap time which eventually cost both the ability to advance to the final round of knockout-style qualifying.
“That yellow flag didn’t help us at all,” said Palou. “I think we were going to be easy through, but racing stuff, right? I’m happy because the car’s good, a bit better than yesterday and this morning.”
“Kind of sucks to get hosed by a very odd call,” added O’Ward. “We should have been in the Fast 6.”
Palou must finish 12th or better – or 13th or better if he leads a lap – to clinch his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship and CGR’s 14th title since 1996!
Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network. A 30-minute warmup starts at noon (ET), live on Peacock Premium.
Colton Herta goes back-to-back at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta won Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey giving him back-to-back victories two decades after his father accomplished the same feat. Herta beat Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by 1.9747-seconds to pick up his second victory of 2021 and fifth of his career.
“Alex, really the whole race, was right there,” said Herta. “Then Grosjean at the end pressured Alex, therefore pressured me. To go two-for-two so far (at Laguna Seca) is great. We were fast all weekend, and I’m glad we could pull it off in the race.”
Palou continued his march towards his first series title with a second place after last week’s win at Portland, which gives Palou and the No. 10 NTT DATA team a 35-point lead ahead of second place Pato O’Ward.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the pace that Colton had,” explained Palou. “I think in reds and blacks he had a bit more. As soon as I tried to catch him, which we tried, I would just cook my tires. Yeah, I couldn’t go as fast as him without losing my tires.”
Palou, O’Ward and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden are the only drivers eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale. Newgarden is third in the standings, 48 points back.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson were eliminated from contention at this race after finishing 13th and sixth, respectively.
“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward said. “I truly feel like we used every single ounce of energy and pace that this car had. We pulled off a near-miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. In the race, honestly, that was as much as I had.
“All we can do at Long Beach is win, and then let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy around a street course, so let’s see what we can pull off next week.”
Herta’s victory clinched the Manufacturers Championship for the fourth consecutive season.