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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:

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Pato O’Ward Wins INDYCAR Pole Position At Barber Motorsports Park

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Photo: Chris Owens

BIRMINGHAM, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward is on the pole position for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opening race after knockout-style qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park.

O’Ward’s fast lap of ?105.8479-seconds (125.744 mph) was .0698-seconds faster than the No. 27 NAPA Honda of Alexander Rossi who will start second.

“The times you saw today, you don’t see that anywhere else in the world,” said O’Ward of the tight qualifying times. “I was really happy with the car.  It was behaving well.  You really have to hustle this car to get the speed out of it. We’ve got a good car.”

“I think our best starting spot in year’s past was eighth so a big step up and we have a shot at it tomorrow,” said Rossi.

The newest member of Chip Ganassi Racing, Alex Palou, will line up third in the No. 10 SegiTV Honda after a fast lap of 1:06:0538 (125.611 mph).

“Qualifying was super close as INDYCAR is, it’s amazing to be honest,” said Palou. “The competition here is crazy. We have a good race car so hopefully we can bring back some trophies.”

Team Penske’s Will Power starts fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.  Power’s best lap was 1:06:1186 (125.230).

PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon begins his quest for a seventh Championship from the fifth starting spot in the No. 9 Grow Up Great Honda after a quick lap of 1:06:3976 (124.703).

Three Rivers Karting

Dixon’s CGR teammate Marcus Ericsson rounds out the fast six with a fast lap of 1:06:4102 (124.680) in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda.

Driver’s failing to advance to the fast six included former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean, who will start seventh in his series debut.

Grosjean is one of three, highly-touted rookies who have diverse racing backgrounds.

The second rookie, three-time Australian Supercar Champion Scott McLaughlin will start in there 12th position after failing to make it out of the second round.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson set a goal of not qualifying last in his first attempt in an INDYCAR.  Johnson accomplished that goal and will start 21st in the No. 48 Carvana American Legion Honda.  Carvana Racing caught up with the rookie-of-the-year contender.

Two veterans who experienced issues and went off track will start deep in the field.  Felix Rosenqvist will start 22nd and James Hinchcliffe will start 24th.

Track action for The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama starts at 11:30 a.m. (ET) Sunday with a 30-minute warm-up session (live on Peacock) followed by the race beginning at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Barber INDYCAR Starting Lineup

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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.

Three Rivers Karting

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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