ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The global pandemic known as the coronavirus is affecting the racing community around the world.
The Clearview Mall Car Show scheduled for March 19-21 has been cancelled according to Lernerville Speedway. In a Tweet sent out by the track, the “Test & Tune” set for April 10th is still a go at this point.
The Clearview Mall Car Show, scheduled for March 19-21 has been canceled as a precaution due to the current Covid-19 outbreak. NO other events on our 2020 schedule have been affected. We want to see everyone on opening night healthy as possible! Test and Tune up next April 10!
— Lernerville Speedway (@Lernerville) March 12, 2020
In St. Petersburg at the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Season Opener Mayor Rick Kriseman has closed general admission to the race and is holding an afternoon press conference to discuss the fate of the race itself.
this a global pandemic. My most important job is public safety and health. It is for that reason that we are cancelling general attendance at the @GPSTPETE. We are working w/ the promoters and @IndyCar and will have more announcements later as to whether the race itself will run.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) March 12, 2020
NASCAR will hold a 1 p-m press conference to discuss their plans going forward. This comes after Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez put Miami-Dade County under a state of emergency. While Miami-Dade county does not have any COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreaks at this time Gimenez made the decision as a pre-emptive measure. Gimenez also suspended operations at various events, including Homestead-Miami Speedway. Gimenez said NASCAR officials will decide whether to hold the race without fans. All three national series (Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series, Xfinity Series & Cup Series) were scheduled to run at Homestead.
McLaren F1 has withdrawn from the Australian Grand Prix after one of its team members tested positive for coronavirus. The team’s employee was tested at the circuit in Melbourne on Wednesday and then self-isolated at the team hotel while awaiting results. Four team members from Haas were also tested and cleared of having the virus.
McLaren Racing withdraws from the 2020 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/BZvHVKQoev
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 12, 2020
IMSA has postponed next week’s 12-Hours of Sebring until November.
IMSA Postponement of the Twelve Hours of Sebring to November 11-14, 2020 pic.twitter.com/Ze2dyuREkg
— IMSA (@IMSA) March 12, 2020
1:15 p.m. UPDATE: Add the NHRA to the list of motorsports sanctioning bodies cancelling events.
NHRA postpones portion of Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals pic.twitter.com/HHnZbzAXx9
— #NHRA (@NHRA) March 12, 2020
The World of Outlaws however is moving forward, albeit with caution.
🚨 All events are going forward as scheduled as we closely monitor growing COVID-19 health concerns. Should the need arise to alter plans based on local conditions, we will act in the best interest of our fans and competitors. 🚨 https://t.co/evm4k70YLN
— World of Outlaws (@WorldofOutlaws) March 12, 2020
NASCAR has decided to race this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway but without fans in the grandstands.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 12, 2020
3:30 p.m. UPDATE:
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the City of St. Petersburg and Firestone Grand Prix officials have announced that the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place on Sunday but not in front of any race fans. In addition the event will run under a condensed schedule. Rescheduling the race was not an option because of the specific dates between when the promoter can build the race track and when the city streets used for the track have to be returned to the City. Green Savoree Racing Promotions expects to have a information for ticket holders in the week following the race or fans can check the website, gpstpete.com
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou Wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – In just his first year with the team Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou is your 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion.
Palou’s 4th-place finish in Sunday’s season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach guaranteed the 24-year-old native of Spain his first INDYCAR Championship in his second season and the Ganassi team their 14th title since 1996.
“This team is amazing,” said Palou. “I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. What a race, what a year, what a season.”
“People win Championships,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The driver, the team, and especially the people behind the scenes, leaving the shop in the winter when it’s dark out and snowing, that don’t get the notoriety.”
Palou started the race in tenth position in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. Palou’s closest Championship rival, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, started the race in eighth position. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden started on the pole position with Palou’s CGR teammate Scott Dixon alongside in second place in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
Newgarden took the lead in turn one with Dixon in tow as the field took the green flag. The race wasn’t even 2-laps old when Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones made an ambitious attempt to pass James Hinchcliffe, but made contact with O’Ward with Palou right behind Jones!
📲: INDYCAR APP – https://t.co/vyuISIyifv
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
O’Ward brought out the caution flag a short time later on lap 20 when the right rear driveshaft failed on the front stretch.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
The caution flag shuffled the field as some cars went to pit road for service while other cars stayed out to gain track position, giving the lead to Helio Castroneves, who took a turn at the front of the field until he went to pit road on lap 34, giving the lead to Colton Herta.
Herta earned his turn at the front as he was making moves through the field throughout the race and following the last restart, it was Newgarden and Dixon giving chase. Palou was behind Dixon in fourth doing what he needed to get the car to the checkered flag in one piece.
Herta pulled away in the end to a .5883-second victory, his ?? win of 2021. Newgarden finished second to jump O’Ward for second in the Championship, 38-points behind Palou.
Dixon finished third followed by Palou in fourth. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud rounded out the Top 5.
Alexander Rossi, Jack Harvey, Sebastian Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Will Power made up spots 6 through 10.
Honda claimed the Engine Manufacturer’s Championship for the fourth straight year.
Josef Newgarden wins pole position for INDYCAR Acura Long Beach Grand Prix
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Newgarden’s fast lap of 1-minute, 8.2241-seconds around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit was .2181-seconds faster than Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
The pole position and valuable Championship point is exactly what Newgarden needs to do to win his third series title. Newgarden enters the race in third position in the standings, 48-points behind leader Alex Palou, and must win, lead the most laps and hope Palou finishes 25th or worse.
“It’s very improbable for us to win this championship,” Newgarden said. “So, our goal is to win the race tomorrow. Let’s finish our season on a high note, and we’ll see what happens. I think it’s pretty unlikely, but you never say never in this sport.”
The only other driver with a shot at the Championship is Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who will start eighth in the 28-car field. O’Ward also needs to win and hope for Palou to finish 25th or worse.
“Our car has been good,” said O’Ward. “We didn’t roll off the best, but I think we made some really good changes, just kept improving. We had enough for the Fast 6.”
Palou will start 10th in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Palou and O’Ward were on flying laps when they were forced to slow for a local yellow for Will Power, costing both valuable lap time which eventually cost both the ability to advance to the final round of knockout-style qualifying.
“That yellow flag didn’t help us at all,” said Palou. “I think we were going to be easy through, but racing stuff, right? I’m happy because the car’s good, a bit better than yesterday and this morning.”
“Kind of sucks to get hosed by a very odd call,” added O’Ward. “We should have been in the Fast 6.”
Palou must finish 12th or better – or 13th or better if he leads a lap – to clinch his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship and CGR’s 14th title since 1996!
Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network. A 30-minute warmup starts at noon (ET), live on Peacock Premium.
Colton Herta goes back-to-back at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta won Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey giving him back-to-back victories two decades after his father accomplished the same feat. Herta beat Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by 1.9747-seconds to pick up his second victory of 2021 and fifth of his career.
“Alex, really the whole race, was right there,” said Herta. “Then Grosjean at the end pressured Alex, therefore pressured me. To go two-for-two so far (at Laguna Seca) is great. We were fast all weekend, and I’m glad we could pull it off in the race.”
Palou continued his march towards his first series title with a second place after last week’s win at Portland, which gives Palou and the No. 10 NTT DATA team a 35-point lead ahead of second place Pato O’Ward.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the pace that Colton had,” explained Palou. “I think in reds and blacks he had a bit more. As soon as I tried to catch him, which we tried, I would just cook my tires. Yeah, I couldn’t go as fast as him without losing my tires.”
Palou, O’Ward and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden are the only drivers eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale. Newgarden is third in the standings, 48 points back.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson were eliminated from contention at this race after finishing 13th and sixth, respectively.
“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward said. “I truly feel like we used every single ounce of energy and pace that this car had. We pulled off a near-miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. In the race, honestly, that was as much as I had.
“All we can do at Long Beach is win, and then let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy around a street course, so let’s see what we can pull off next week.”
Herta’s victory clinched the Manufacturers Championship for the fourth consecutive season.