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Racing Notebook – Thursday, February 27 – Spencer Pigot To Drive For Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Citrone-Buhl; New INDYCAR Promo And More

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A.J. Foyt Racing

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Thursday’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Racing Notebook has a sponsorship update for one of A.J. Foyt’s INDYCARS plus an update on the new INDYCAR team partly owned by Steelers minority owner Robert Citrone and James Hinchcliffe is going to do some Television this year when he’s not driving and Kurt Busch is getting help for his Vet Tix program.

Chase Elliott Going After “Bounty” On Kyle Busch:

  • Chase Elliott is going after the $100,000 “Bounty” on Kyle Busch.  NASCAR Cup Series Driver Kevin Harvick put a $50,000 bounty on Busch after his win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after some other drivers said Busch was “cherry picking” the NASCAR Gander Outdoors and R.V. Truck Series competition.  Gander Outdoors and R.V. Truck Series CEO Marcus Lemonis upped the ante, matching Harvick’s $50,000 to double the bonus to any full-time Cup Series racer up to the challenge.

ripKurrent To Sponsor Kimball and A.J. Foyt Racing:

  • AJ Foyt Racing has signed ripKurrent, an energy services company, as the primary sponsor of Charlie Kimball’s No. 4 Chevrolet for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Moreover, ripKurrent will have a season-long presence on the car as an associate marketing partner.  Based in Boca Raton, Florida, ripKurrent is expanding its involvement in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after having sponsored Kimball’s car at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway last August.  Kimball was a guest on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast two weeks ago.

Spencer Pigot To Drive For Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Citrone/Buhl Autosport:

  • The new INDYCAR team formed by Steelers minority owner Robert Citrone, his son and the Buhl brothers are teaming up with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for their new effort.  Spencer Pigot is going to drive the Honda-powered car in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on May 9 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.  Pigot, 26, earned back-to-back Championships in the INDYCAR ladder series in 2014 (Pro Mazda) and 2015 (Indy Lights).  Pigot spent the last two seasons with Ed Carpenter Racing.  Read more at: Citrone/Buhl Autosport Teaming-Up With Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
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NTT INDYCAR SERIES Releases New Promotional Campaign:

  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener is just a few weeks away and the series has unveiled a new brand campaign to showcase what it takes to compete.  Narrated by Matt Damon and created in partnership with Chicago-based agency Schafer Condon Carter the video focuses on the athletes’ unique skill set and mentality.  The video features 5-Time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, along with 2-Time Series Champion Josef Newgarden, defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, 2016 500 winner Alexander Rossi and rising starts Colton Herta and Patricio O’Ward.

James Hinchcliffe To Work For NBC And IndyCar Radio:

  • NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver James Hinchcliffe is joining to be doing some broadcast work when he is not behind the wheel of the Genesys Andretti Autosport Honda.  Hinchcliffe announced today plans to work for NBC TV and INDYCAR radio when he schedule permits.  Hinchcliffe is scheduled to run the GMR Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Genesys 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

Jimmie Johnson Teaming Up With Kurt Busch For Vet Tix Campaign:

  • Seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation are teaming up with Monster Energy Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kurt Busch for his season-long effort to get Veterans and Military Families to this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  Busch talked about the Vet Tix program when he was a guest on the Daytona 500 Edition of the Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast and also said there is a link where fans and corporations can make donations to help too.

IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson And Chip Ganassi Racing Agree To Multi-Year Deal

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Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Marcus Ericsson will continue to drive Chip Ganassi’s No. 8 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after agreeing to a multi-year deal.

Ericsson, 30, joined the team in 2020 after competing for Schmidt Petersen Motorsports for his inaugural INDYCAR season in 2019.

“I’m very happy to continue my relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda and HPD into 2021 and beyond,” said Ericsson. “I want to thank Chip and the whole CGR organization for their trust in me. Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the best teams in motorsports and I’m proud to be part of the team. The season we’ve just finished has been full of potential and I feel confident that with what we’ve learned together this year will help us succeed in 2021. I’m looking forward to getting back in the No. 8 Honda!”

This past season Ericsson posted nine top-10 finished in 14-races with a season-best fourth-place finish as Road America. Ericsson finished 12th in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings.

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“Marcus proved that he belongs here, and this season he contributed to the success of our team greatly,” said Mike Hull, CGR’s Managing Director. “That includes being unselfish to his teammates, especially with Scott Dixon who won the INDYCAR championship. He’s a great foundational piece of our overall program and he fits well within our group. That translates into success on the track, and we’re glad to have him continue to grow and move the team toward into the future.”

Ericsson may only have two years of INDYCAR experience but he has an extensive racing resume including 97-starts in Formula 1. The Kumla, Sweden native is a two-time champion (Formula BMW UK, 2007; Japanese Formula Three, 2009), and has twice claimed the Swedish Junior Racer of the Year award (2007, 2009). Ericsson also previously competed in British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2.

Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond.  Huski Chocolate partnered with the team in 2020.

The Ericsson deal combined with the addition of Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Carvana Honda and the return of Scott Dixon in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda leaves the No. 10 NTT Data Honda as the only remaining question mark for CGR heading into the 2021 season.

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IndyCar

Scott Dixon Wins 6th INDYCAR Championship & Chip Ganassi Racing Wins Their 13th

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Joe Skibinski

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon wasn’t even born when INDYCAR legend A.J. Foyt won his sixth Championship in 1975, but Sunday Dixon joined Foyt as the only other 6-time INDYCAR Champion.

Dixon finished third in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, winning the title by 16-points over Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.

“Well, six is good,” said Dixon. “Seven is better. That’s going to be the goal.”

Dixon started the race in 11th position and had to finish eighth or ninth depending on where Newgarden finished. Newgarden didn’t make it easy, winning the race for the second year in-a-row.

“Credit to Josef (Newgarden) and Team Penske,” said Dixon. “He drove a hell of a race there and put us under a lot of pressure. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly and gained a lot of points.”

The No. 9 team started the 2020 season with three-straight wins and built up a lead of 117-points but saw it dwindle to 32-points following races at Mid-Ohio in September and the Harvest Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this month.

Dixon and his “Wolfpack” crew however managed to lead the Championship throughout the entire season.

“It’s all the team,” credited Dixon. “I can’t thank everybody on this team enough. Obviously, Chip (Ganassi), Mike (Hull) and Barry (Wanser) and everybody involved.”

A big part of Dixon’s team is wife Emma, daughters Poppy and Tilly and son Kit.

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“Big thanks to my wife Emma and my family,” said Dixon.  “I’m glad my girls are here, unfortunately (toddler son) Kit isn’t here.

Scott Dixon celebrates with his wife Emma and Daughters Poppy and Tilly after winning his sixth NTT IndyCar Series Championship.

It’s a big shame that he couldn’t be here. I can’t thank them enough. We’ll have to win another one so he can be in the pictures.”

The Championship is the 13th for Chip Ganassi and his team, which is celebrating their 30th Anniversary in 2020.

“It’s never just one thing or one person. For me, it’s about the team effort. We had a lot of changes in the offseason but huge thanks again to everyone on the team.”

The Championship is also Dixon’s second in three-years for Pittsburgh-headquartered PNC Bank.

“PNC Bank, two out of three years (as champion) – that’s pretty good going,” said Dixon. “I can’t thank all of our partners enough: PNC Bank, Honda, NTT Data, Huski Chocolate.”

Honda took home the Manufacturers Championship for the third year in-a-row.

“I’m proud to be powered by Honda and what they’ve been able to pull out this year given the deficit we’ve had going into Indy previous years,” said Dixon. “They nailed it. Big thanks to everybody.”

“Human beings are the thing that make the world go around and Scott is a very special human being,” said Ted Klaus, President of Honda Performance Development (HPD). “We call them the ‘driver’ for a reason, because they drive the whole team. Scott drives everything about, not just Chip Ganassi Racing, but HPD and he drives us. And we need those kinds of strong drivers to get the achievements that we seek. I don’t think he’s done. I think he’s still hungry and I think it humbles all of us. Good for Scott!”

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IndyCar

Josef Newgarden Wins Firestone Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg But Falls Short In Championship

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Chris Jones

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is the 2020 winner of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Newgarden’s victory was his fourth of the year and 18th of his INDYCAR career.  Newgarden’s win also continued a trend of back-to-back winners on the streets of St. Petersburg. Juan Pablo Montoya won the race in 2015-16, Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017-18 and Newgarden the past two years 2019-20.

The victory was bittersweet for the defending series champion as he came up 16-points short in the battle with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon.

“First off, congratulations to Scott (Dixon) and all his guys, his crew,” said Newgarden. “It’s big time to win six championships. I’m sure they’re thrilled. They’re a great competitor.”

Newgarden and his Team Penske crew did everything in their power to win the title but also needed Dixon to finish tenth or worse in the race.

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“On one hand, I don’t really know what I could do different this year,” reflected Newgarden. “I don’t know what I could ask my guys to do different. We knew coming into this that fate wasn’t in our own hands. We weren’t going to be able to decide things. So, we just did what we could and hoped for the best.”

Their best was just not quite enough to beat a Dixon, who is now a six-time Champion, and the Ganassi team, who now has 13-Championships.

“Credit to Josef,” said Dixon. “He drove a hell of a race there and put us under a lot of pressure. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly. And we know next year is going to be the same.”

“We weren’t good enough, said Newgarden, a two-time Champion himself. “We’ll reset. We’ll hit them harder next year. I promise you we’ll be in the fight; this crew will be in the fight every year. So, I have confidence we’ll come back.”

IndyCar St. Pete Results

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