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Racing Notebook – Tuesday, February 25 – Kobe Tributes, Alonso at Indy, Vegas Ratings and more.

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Tuesday’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Racing Notebook takes a look at some of the tribute paint schemes NASCAR teams are running this weekend in California plus NASCAR TV ratings from Vegas and more.

NASCAR Teams Paying Tribute To Kobe Bryant And Crash Victims:

  • NASCAR teams are planning tributes to Kobe and Gigi Bryant and the other victims of the fatal Helicopter Crash January 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California at this weekend’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  Drivers Ryan Blaney of Team Penske, Axalta Racing and William Byron and Daniel Suarez of Gaunt Brothers Racing each took to Twitter to share what their teams are doing:

Three Rivers Karting

Fernando Alonso To Run Indy 500 For Arrow McLaren SP:

  • Arrow McLaren SP and Fernando Alonso will join forces with title partner Ruoff Mortgage to compete this year in the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Alonso, a two-time Formula 1 World Champion, World Endurance Champion, two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona, will compete in his third Month of May this year driving the No. 66 Ruoff Mortgage Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet and returning to continue his quest for motorsport’s elusive and prestigious “Triple Crown”.  The Spaniard will join Arrow McLaren SP drivers Oliver Askew and Pato O’Ward as the team fields three cars in a blend of youth and experience at the iconic event.

NASCAR Sees Ratings Increase At Las Vegas:

  • Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway averaged a 3.2 rating and 5.5-million viewers on FOX according to Neilsen estimates from ShowBuzz Daily.  The event saw a 7% increase in ratings and 8% increase in viewership versus 2019 (3.0, 5.12M) and 10% and 16% increase over 2018 (2.9, 4.73M).  It ranked as the highest-rated and most-watched sporting event of the weekend, topping the Celtics-Lakers NBA game on ABC head-to-head (2.3, 3.59M), which came in second place.

MI Windows Joins Andretti Autosport:

  • MI Windows and Doors, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of high-quality vinyl and aluminum windows and doors, is continuing their partnership with Andretti Autosport’s Pirelli GT4 Americas team driven by Jarett Andretti. The long-time partner of the third-generation driver will appear as the co-primary sponsor for the SprintX races in 2020 along with providing associate-level sponsorship for the Pirelli GT4 Sprint races. MI Windows and Doors is a direct supplier to team partner and co-primary sponsor, Window World.
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Josef Newgarden Leads Day 2 Of Indy 500 Testing

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Photo: James Black

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sunny skies and better weather conditions contributed to higher speeds in Day 2 of open testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for next month’s 105th running of The Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden topped the speed chart with a fast lap of 226.819 mph in the No. 2 Chevrolet. That easily eclipsed the 224.427 top speed from the rain-hampered first day on Thursday that was set by Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

“It was a pretty good day,” said Newgarden. “I was happy enough with the car. I think we still need some work, for sure, but to just get an initial read on where we’re at is good. Obviously, there are a lot of new parts and differences to the last couple of years, so we’re just trying to assess what we need to really work on these last couple of weeks before we get back here in May. But I’m pretty happy.”

Two-time and reigning Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato was second on the speed chart at 226.369 in the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

Two-time 500 winner and 1999 CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya was third quickest at 226.123 in the No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

“Today was good,” said Montoya. “We worked through a lot of things. We found a lot of good things and a lot of bad things like you always do.  It was nice to get back a little bit in the draft. A lot to catch up again and learn and understand again what you need to do and the timing.  Everybody at Arrow McLaren SP has done a great job and this test has been very, very, useful.”

Three Rivers Karting

6-time and defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon was fourth fastest in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda with a fast lap of 225.906.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 225.644 in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

The 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 30 at IMS.

The green flag drops on the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES with the season opening, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst on Sunday, April 18 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network will provide live coverage starting at 3 p.m. (ET).

INDYCAR Practice 3

INDYCAR ROP 2

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Sebastien Bourdais Quickest In Day 1 Of Indy 500 Testing

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Photo: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was the fastest of 32-drivers who took part in the first of two days of testing for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Bourdais turned a fast lap of 224.427 mph late in the day during the Veteran Refresher and Rookie Orientation Programs.  Bourdais was required to complete the refresher because he did not compete in ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’ in 2020.

“Pretty good refresher for the A.J. Foyt No. 14,” said Bourdais, a four-time open wheel Champion. “That ROKiT car was pretty good. It always feels a little different when you start at low speeds and the car’s never really settled, but we got through both phases and are ready to go tomorrow and start working properly. It’s all good.”

Conor Daly was the second-fastest driver overall and the fastest in the 90-minute morning session before heavy rain arrived in Indianapolis. Daly’s top lap was 222.714 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Sage Karam was third overall at 222.408 in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet.

6-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon was third fastest in the morning session in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.  Dixon’s fast lap was 220.575 mph.

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2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Rinus VeeKay suffered a broken finger in a crash in Turn 1 just 11 minutes into track activity in his No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Rain halted the opening veterans-only session at 12:30 p.m. (ET). A second heavy shower around 3:15 p.m. delayed track activity until the track reopened at 6:03 p.m. under blue skies and sunshine.

Track activity will take place from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET) Friday, with live broadcast coverage on Peacock. Rookie Orientation and refresher tests will take place from 9-10 a.m., with veterans back on track from 10-11 a.m. The track will open for all drivers from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

The 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 30.

INDYCAR Practice 1

INDYCAR Rookie:Veteran Practice

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Indy 500 Testing Thursday And Friday At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Photo: Walt Kuhn

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Thirty-two drivers are scheduled to participate in two days of NTT INDYCAR SERIES testing Thursday and Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Testing will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Thursday with veterans hitting the 2.5-mile famed oval first from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by rookie orientation and veteran refresher programs are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Two rookies are scheduled for orientation: Cody Ware (Dale Coyne Racing) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing with RWR).

Even Indianapolis 500 winners are not exempt from the veteran refresher program.  Three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya are two of the veterans schedule to participate along with Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Sage Karam and Simona De Silvestro.

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6-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Scott Dixon leads the Chip Ganassi Racing squad at the test.  Dixon returns for his quest to tie the legendary A.J. Foyt for a series record seventh Championship in 2021.  Dixon will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Dixon’s teammates will also be participating in the test.  Newcomer Alex Palou will be in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda.  Marcus Ericsson returns in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda and Tony Kanaan is back with CGR in the cockpit of the No. 48 Honda that Jimmie Johnson will drive on the road and street courses.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal will be behind the wheel of the No. 15 Honda.  Rahal will be joined by defending and two-time 500 winner Takuma Sato and Santino Ferrucci will be in a third RLL entry.

The test is closed to the public but will be streamed live to race fans exclusively via NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock.

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