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Racing Notebook – Wednesday, February 12

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Meyer Shank Racing

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Wednesday’s racing notebook has news from the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as they finally get some laps on track at Circuit of the Americas.  We also have news from the All-Star Circuit of Champions, IndyLights and Pirelli GT4 Americas as well as the DIRTcar Nationals.

Weather affects NTT INDYCAR SERIES Testing At Circuit of the Americas:

  • Mother Nature threw a wrench into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES testing plans on Tuesday and Wednesday at Circuit of the Americas.  Inclement weather on Tuesday only allowed 11-teams to turn 17-controlled laps around the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.  Wednesday was a mixed bag to start the day but eventually the skies cleared-up and teams were able to turn some laps. Team Penske’s Will Power turned the fastest lap in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet at 1-minute, 46.7603-seconds (114.987 mph). COTA Test Results

Meyer Shank Racing Unveils Jack Harvey’s No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda:

  • Meyer Shank Racing’s No. 60 AutoNation / Sirius Honda is sporting a new look for 2020.  Driver Jack Harvey will debut the all new ‘magenta’ pink livery on Tuesday and Wednesday at Circuit of the Americas for the first official test of the NTT IndyCar Series.  The striking design (pictured above) features the colors of team partners AutoNation and SiriusXM, with the distinctive pink livery bringing attention to the ‘Drive Pink’ cancer initiative (https://drivepink.comestablished by AutoNation.

Capstone Turbine Returning To Colton Herta’s Car in 2020:

  • Capstone Turbine Corporation is returning to the sidepods of the No. 88 Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport car of Colton Herta for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR® SERIES season. The southern-California based clean energy company will serve as the primary sponsor at the upcoming COTA open test, as well as six events including the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at COTA and races at Texas Motor Speedway, Road America, Richmond Raceway, the streets of Toronto and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.  Capstone first appeared on the sophomore driver’s car in 2019 on the streets of Toronto and continued through to the season finale race where Herta scored victory from pole position.
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Kyle Larson and Aaron Reutzel Score All-Star Wins in Florida:

  • Kyle Larson took home the victory in Tuesday night’s Jean Lynch Classic presented by Winn-Dixie at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, Florida.  Ian Madsen finished second followed by Cory Eliason in third.  The event is named in honor of Jean Lynch (Mrs. Ed Lynch Sr.).
  • Aaron Reutzel continued his Florida dominance with a convincing All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Winn-Dixie victory at East Bay Raceway Park on Monday evening, taking command for the first time on lap three before escaping from the rest of the field to snag the $5,000 payday.  Ian Madsen finished second followed by Cory Eliason in third.

Endurance Continues Primary Sponsorship of Jarrett Andretti:

  • Endurance, a leader in auto protection, is continuing their partnership with Andretti Autosport and driver Jarrett Andretti for the 2020 Pirelli GT4 Americas Season. Endurance first joined Andretti and the No. 18 McLaren in 2019 during his maiden voyage in GT4 Americas sports car competition with Andretti Autosport. Andretti’s first overall GT4 win was claimed in Endurance colors.

The No. 18 Endurance Andretti Autosport McLaren driven by Jarrett Andretti in the Pirelli GT4 Americas Series.

Mat Williamson Takes DIRTcar Nationals Win At Volusia:

  • Defending Super DIRTcar Series Champion Mat Williamson picked up his first career victory at Volusia Speedway Park Tuesday night at the DIRTcar Nationals.  Erick Rudolph finished second and Anthony Perrego came home third.  Lernerville defending Big Block Modified Champ Brian Swartzlander finished 16th in the 30-laps feature.  The DIRTcar Nationals continue through Saturday night in Barberville, Florida.

Danial Nielsen Frost Joining Andretti Autosport’s Indy Lights Team:

  • Andretti Autosport is expanding their Indy Lights roster with the addition of Danial Nielsen Frost for the 2020 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season. The 18-year-old from Singapore is slated to slide into the No. 68 machine for the championship team.  Frost made his first start in USF2000 at Road America in 2018 and finished his first season with five top-10 finishes.  Frost competed in the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship where he finished fifth in the point standings and captured two wins and six podiums.
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INDYCAR Adding Nashville Street Race For 2021

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NTT INDYCAR SERIES

NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and The Music City Grand Prix are teaming up to bring an INDYCAR race to the streets of Nashville, Tennessee in 2021.

The Music City Grand Prix will take place from August 6-8, 2021.  The 11-turn, 2.17-mile temporary circuit will use Nissan Stadium as the paddock and will race across the Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge into Downtown Nashville making the track the first to cross over a major body of water.

“The Tennessee Titans and Nissan Stadium are excited to partner with the Music City Grand Prix to bring the NTT INDYCAR SERIES to Nashville and the stadium campus,” said Burke Nihill, President and CEO of the Tennessee Titans. “This is in keeping with our organizational goal of making our city, this venue and our organization as versatile and as busy as possible.”

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“The Music City Grand Prix will be a one-of-a-kind NTT INDYCAR SERIES experience anchored in the heart of Nashville’s action-packed, exhilarating downtown corridor,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “Urban street festivals have become a huge part of our DNA at INDYCAR, and this three-day festival—complete with a course that pushes the limits—will highlight everything Nashville and the sport have to offer, providing international travelers, racing enthusiasts and local thrill-seekers alike with an experience of a lifetime.”

The Music City Grand Prix weekend will feature the best Nashville has to offer, including live music performances by top artists, best-in-class chef-curated food experiences and entertainment that centers on speed in a way only Music City can serve up.

“Nashville is a special place, and the announcement of the Music City Grand Prix truly marks a huge step forward for our community as we look to the future and a return of our thriving and unique entertainment scene,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. “This announcement could not have come at a better time. The event represents a tremendous private investment in the city and a catalyst to our economic recovery.”

Additional information, including the Music City Grand Prix schedules, artist lineup, food experiences and more, will be released at a later date. Visit www.musiccitygp.com to find more details on the event, sign up for Club RPM, a premium VIP experience, or to become a Music City Grand Prix Founder – and receive reserved seating, exclusive discounts and priority purchase opportunities on parking, hotels and more.

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Scott Dixon Escapes Mid-Ohio With INDYCAR Points Lead Despite Struggles

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Matt Fraver

LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is sitting on a 72-point lead in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship standings despite an uncharacteristic weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 5-Time Series Champion.

Dixon and CGR were hoping to pad their points lead at a venue where the track President Craig Rust said, “Scott kind of owns this place.”  A track where the “Iceman” has 6-wins and the team has 11-wins.

The weekend didn’t unfold that way.  Dixon started Race 1 on Saturday in the 17th position after struggling in qualifying.  Dixon worked his way up through the field early but couldn’t make up any more ground once he got to the Top 10.  Contact at the end of pit road with Colton Herta didn’t help.  Dixon finished 10th.

Team Penske’s Will Power won the race and his teammate Josef Newgarden, Dixon’s closest pursuer in the Championship, finished second to gain 20-points in the title fight.

“It’s was just OK for us today in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda,” said Dixon. “It just didn’t play out the way we thought it would. We went with a cautious move and made sure we ran the red tires first based on what we saw in qualifying. I guess looking back maybe we should have gone the other way, but who knows? Then we got caught up with (Colton) Herta on the pit exit, and I’m not sure what happened there or why he slowed up or whatever, but I thought we might have broken the front end after that. I hit him pretty hard, but I guess at the end of the day we made up seven or so spots, and that’s a small win.”

Sunday’s Race 2 looked like the No. 9 team would have a better day.  Dixon qualified third and barely missed a first lap accident when Santino Ferrucci, who went off track approaching Turn 4, came back on track right beside the points leader.  Ferrucci made contact with his teammate Alex Palou, who made contact with Dixon’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist ending both drivers days.

Dixon settled in behind Herta, who was leading, and remained there through the first round of pit stops. The No. 9 team elected to go with the Black sidewall “primary” Firestone tires while the other front runner elected to go with the faster Red sidewall “alternate” tires, which are initially quicker but do not last as long as the primary tires.

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Disaster struck on Lap 22 when Dixon lost control of the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda in turn 1, the fastest corner on the track.  Dixon didn’t hit anything but the track remained under green flag conditions dropping him to 20th position.

“We really struggled on the restarts with tire pressures for some reason,” said Dixon.  “I had a bunch of guys in front of me on alternate tires and I got too aggressive.  I got on the overtake button at the exit of Turn 1 and spun the tires and spun the car.  It was just a stupid, rookie mistake and I feel bad for the PNC Bank team.”

Dixon and his “Wolfpack” Crew put their heads down and went to work, fighting back to a 10th place finish by passing rookie Rinus Veekay on the last lap.

“We managed to fight back until the very end and pick up some spots,” said Dixon, obviously frustrated with the way the day transpired.  “We should have never been in that position to begin with.”

Newgarden and the No. 2 PPG Paints Team Penske crew couldn’t take advantage of Dixon’s misfortune and finished only two-spots ahead in 8th place.

“We were just a little too average today,” said Newgarden.  “We were just kind of stuck where we were all day, to be honest.  We just need to work on getting a little more race pace.  I think that’s what we were lacking.”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has the next two weekend off before returning with the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix Doubleheader October 2-3 on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Dixon won in July.

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Colton Herta Wins Race 2 Of Honda Indy 200 At Mid Ohio

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Chris Jones

LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Colton Herta led an Andretti Autosport podium sweep after winning Race 2 of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Herta started on the pole position and survived an early altercation with Santino Ferrucci to lead 57 of 75-laps en route to the victory.

“I’m so happy,” said Herta. “We’ve been knocking on the door almost every weekend. We’ve had the pace. But for some reason or another, one thing has gone wrong or this thing has gone wrong. We finally put everything together.”

Andretti’s Alexander Rossi trailed Herta to the finish line by 1.3826 seconds. Fellow Andretti driver Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third in the No. 28 DHL Honda, 2.4965 seconds behind Herta.

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“I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael (Andretti),” said Rossi. “It’s been a terrible year for us, kind of globally. So, to do this … hat’s off to Colton (Herta) and the 88 guys to get the win. But then just to sweep the podium.”

“I think all in all, it was a pretty good day considering we started eighth and finished third,” said Hunter-Reay. “It was great to have an all-Andretti podium for the whole team. I think everyone really needed this.”

The last time Andretti Autosport swept the podium was in 2005 at St. Petersburg when Dan Wheldon scored the win and fellow Andretti teammates Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta – Colton Herta’s father – followed to sweep the top four finishing positions for what was known as Andretti Green Racing at the time.

There are three races left in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The next event is the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader Oct. 2-3 on the 2.439-mile IMS road course. The season ends with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, Oct. 25.

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