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PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon Ready For Start Of 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Season

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, is ready for the green flag to drop on the 2020 season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 15th.

“Yeah looking forward to it,” Dixon told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.  “It’s been a long off-season. I think one of the biggest changes this off-season is there hasn’t been too much testing.  Actually I’ve been one of the lucky ones that’s had to at least test the aeroscreen early on.  I think Felix (Rosenqvist) has had just one day so far before the season kicks off March 15.  We get one day this week at Sebring before we fire off, so I’m pumped man! Everybody is excited to get going again.”

Dixon did get to do some testing, helping the NTT INDYCAR SERIES test and develop the new-for-2020 Aeroscreen safety device, which is the next evolution in driver protection. Pittsburgh-headquartered PPG makes the Opticor, which is like a windshield, for the Aeroscreen.

“There’s definitely been some evolution,” said Dixon.  “I think once they got to this final version with the help of PPG and Red Bull Technologies. You know Red Bull has tried to implement this in Formula 1. Formula 1 and the FIA decided to go with just the halo, which is kind of the frame piece, and now having both you know IndyCar’s probably a little special too with the oval racing and with the way the debris field can be and a lot of the smaller pieces and so I think this covers both bases.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 11: Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, prepares to drive at Circuit of The Americas on February 11, 2020 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Dixon welcomes the safety advancement and said there was one thing he noticed right away.

“Honestly it has been very smooth,” said Dixon, who has 45-career race wins, behind only A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.  “I think the only kind of hiccup throughout the off-season, which was kind of expected, was just the lack of airflow.  The cars a lot more closed. The driver then became a lot hotter just because there was nothing to cool you, so I think through the series of testing we were able to participate in a little bit, plus other things, they’ve come up with some good ducting and some areas for improvement on that.  We had the first test at COTA a couple of weeks ago and everything seemed to go pretty smoothly.”

Dixon was back in a race car in January at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona but for this first time with a team other than Chip Ganassi’s team, who’s Sports Car program is on hiatus since the Ford GT program came to an end after the 2019 season.

“This is the first time in a while that I’ve kind of stepped out of the situation of running for Chip,” said Dixon.  “Chip over the last four years we had the Ford GT program at (Rolex 24 at) Daytona and other races throughout the season but this year I joined Wayne Taylor’s team at Daytona 24-Hours, which worked out fantastically winning my fourth Daytona which was a little bit unexpected going into that race but the car was fantastic.”

When Dixon hasn’t been racing or testing this off-season, he’s been busy at home changing diapers. Dixon, his wife Emma and daughters Poppy and Tilly welcomed son Kit on December 27th.

“He’s been amazing,” said Dixon, whose nickname is the “Iceman”.  “He’s very chilled and very relaxed and already sleeping very well through the night. I think it definitely has been a bit of a reset for us.  I think when you look at Tilly’s age (8) and Poppy’s ten so there’s been a little bit of a lull with Kit arriving. You know for us we probably wanted more kids earlier on but with how things worked out we never really did but excited to have a healthy baby in the house.”

Three Rivers Karting

Dixon and his wife Emma, a competitive runner in her own right, resisted the urge to find out whether they were going to have a boy or a girl.

“We were shocked.  We didn’t know what the sex was going to be and to see it was a boy.  I’m not really sure what to do with a boy, I’ve had two girls so I’m excited,” Dixon joked.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg kicks off the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for the 10th consecutive year and has blossomed into one of the Series marquee events.

“I think that’s what really important these days is making sure that there’s something for everybody in the family, not just the hardcore motor racing enthusiast that wants to go check out the cars and things like that, there’s other things throughout the day that can keep you amused and keep you interested,” said Dixon.  “St. Pete, I think do a fantastic job of that and it’s more because of the City really embraces the race as well and they get involved and they promote it and they make it fun for everybody.  They’re very lucky to have that support of everybody in that community and it really shows once you get there.”

There is one thing that Dixon would like to change about the race at St. Petersburg.

“Win,” exclaimed Dixon.  “I think we’ve finished second four or five times before but have never been able to get that victory.  Be a great way to kick off the Championship for us is to try and go for a win there, one spot better than we ended up there last year.”

The best thing about a new season is the challenge to presented to teams and drivers but Dixon’s approach has stayed the same as he embarks on his 19th season with CGR.

“We set two goals every year,” said Dixon.  “First to win the Indianapolis 500, which comes up in May, and then go to on and try and capture our sixth Championship which we’ll be putting our head down hard and hopefully drive that PNC Bank No. 9 into victory lane.”

Click the link to hear the complete interview with Scott Dixon on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.

Check out the new PNC Bank digital ad featuring Dixon and the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Team by clicking the Tweet below:

IndyCar

Josef Newgarden quickest in Monday’s Indy 500 Practice

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Penske Entertainment: Matt Fraver

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 20, 2024) Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is atop the speed chart after turning a fast lap of 226.238 mph in Monday’s two-hour Indianapolis 500 practice.

Andretti Global’s Colton Herta turned the second quickest lap on the day with a 226.222 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.  Herta will start 13th on Sunday.

Front row starter Will Power was third fastest in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy at 226.137.

Pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin managed the 21st fastest lap in the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevy at 224.031.  McLaughlin ran 77-laps as teams focused on race runs.

Three Rivers Karting

Scott Dixon turned the seventh fastest lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda to lead Chip Ganassi Racing.  Teammate and reigning series Champion Alex Palou was 19th fastest in the No. 10 DHL Honda.

CGR Rookie Linus Lundqvist was 23rd quick in the No. 8 American Legion Be The One Honda (223.842) followed by fellow CGR rookie Kyffin Simpson in 27th in the No. 4 Journie Rewards Honda (223.337) and Marcus Armstrong in 30th after turning a 222.936 in the No. 11 Ridgeline Honda.

The next and final on-track session is Miller Lite Carb Day practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET Friday (live, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network). Live coverage of the race starts at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Universo, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Monday Indy 500 Practice

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IndyCar

Scott McLaughlin Wins Pole Position For 108th Indianapolis 500

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 19, 2024) Scott McLaughlin is on the pole position for the 108th Indianapolis 500 mile race leading a Team Penske sweep of the front row.

McLaughlin’s four-lap average of 234.220 mph in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet is the fastest four-lap average pole speed in the history of the race.

“To execute the way we he have as a team, that’s what’s really cool,” said McLaughlin. “You see the time, and then it’s all about just executing”

Joining McLaughlin on the front row are teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden giving Penske his first front-row sweep since Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Sr locked out the front row in 1988.

“Pretty cool to get a front row lockout,” said Power who will start second and also finished second in the Sonsio Grand Prix to start the month of May. “I definitely like second place this year. It’s just every single weekend it’s either second in the race or second in qualifying, so I’ll continue that for the rest of the year.”

Chevrolet-powered drivers swept the top eight spots in the 33-car field for the race Sunday, May 26 as Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi will start fourth followed by teammate and NASCAR Cup Champion Kyle Larson in fifth.

Three Rivers Karting

AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci will start sixth with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay in seventh and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward in eighth.

Rounding out the third row is the first Honda driver, Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist.

Four drivers fought for the final three starting spots with Dale Coyne Racing’s Katherine Legge starting 31 followed by Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson, the 2022 Indy 500 winner and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal will start 33rd after getting bumped last year.

“Last year, it still stings,” said Rahal. “It’s not much better being 33rd. I can tell you that. At least we’re in the field, and we’re going to go racing. I know how much it stings on the flip side.”

Legge’s DCR teammate rookie Nolan Siegel failed to make race after crashing on his second attempt as time expired in the session.

“Yeah, super disappointed, obviously,” said Siegel. “Took a swing at it to try and find a half mile an hour to get to where Graham was at, and we were already on the limit of the trim. So I was going to go home because I went flat and did everything I could do. I wasn’t going to go home because I lifted, so here I am.”

Indy 500 Starting Lineup

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IndyCar

Team Penske and Chevrolet Dominate Day 1 of Indy 500 Qualifying

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Penske Entertainment: Walt Kuhn

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 18, 2024) Conspiracy theorists are having a field day after Team Penske swept the Top 3 spots in day one of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The feat comes one month after the team was caught running illegal software in the warmup prior to the Long Beach Grand Prix.  An INDYCAR investigation determined that software, which allowed the push-to-pass system to be active on starts and restarts, was in use at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.

Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion posted the fastest four lap average of 233.758 mph, in the No. 12 Chevrolet.  Ironically, Power was the only Penske driver to not use the advantage in St. Petersburg.

Reigning Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden was second-quick with a four-lap average of 233.332 in the No. 2 Chevy and Scott McLaughlin was third quick in the No. 3 Chevy with a four-lap average of 233.293 mph.  Newgarden and McLaughlin were stripped of their St. Petersburg finishes as a penalty, so Saturday was quite the redemption for the team that has had a cloud hanging over them.

“We got an early draw, which helps,” said Power of the qualifying draw where all three Penske cars went out in the first hour when ambient and track temperatures were cooler.

Chevrolet was the story of Saturday as the brand with the bow tie sweeping nine of the Top 12 spots, which are eligible for Sunday’s Top 12 qualifying runs of which the Top 6 will go for the pole position late in the day in the Firestone Fast 6.

Three Rivers Karting

The fastest Honda-powered entry was Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood who posted a four-lap average of 232.764, good for fifth on the day.

The best Chip Ganassi Racing could muster on Saturday was reigning Series champion Alex Palou who posted a four-lap average of 232.306 in the No. 10 DHL Honda.

Palou’s teammates Marcus Armstrong placed 16th in the No. 11 Ridgeline Honda with a four-lap average of 232.183. Rookie Kyffin Simpson was two spots behind in 18th after posting a 231.948 average.

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon will start 21st with an average of 231.851 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda and Linus Lundqvist will start 27th in the No. 8 American Legion Be The One Honda with an average of 231.506.

Four drivers failed to make the Top 30 and will fight for the final three spots in the 33-car field in Last Chance Qualifying on Sunday including Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal, who went through the same scenario last year when he failed to make the field on speed but ended up substituting for the injured Stefan Wilson.

Two of Dale Coyne’s cars also failed to make the field on speed including Nolan Siegel and Katherine Legge.

Perhaps the most surprising driver to not make the Top 30 is 2022 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who is now driving for Andretti Global.

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