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Racing Notebook – Friday, March 20: IndyCar going iRacing; NASCAR eRacing on Sunday

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NTT INDYCAR SERIES

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is going iRacing and NASCAR is getting ready for their first round of eRacing on Sunday plus no racing in Central Pennsylvania this weekend.

INDYCAR Going iRacing:

  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and iRacing, the world’s premier motorsports racing simulation, are partnering to currently stage six virtual race events.  The events will feature a stellar lineup of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers and possibly some special guests.  The events begin ing on  beginning Saturday, March 28. Fans will have an opportunity to choose the inaugural INDYCAR iRacing Challenge race venue through bracket voting starting today through Thursday.  Fans can vote daily on the track match-up in the bracket to determine which venue will advance to the next round.  The voting, which has a 12-hour window beginning 10 a.m. daily after today, is available through the @INDYCAR Instagram or Twitter handle and online at indycar.com/iracing.

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Drivers Getting Ready For First eNASCAR Race:

  • Drivers from all three NASCAR touring series: Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series are preparing for this Sunday’s eNASCAR race, which is going to be televised by FS1.  The full 35-car field will be announced on Sunday.  NASCAR Cup Series drivers have been allotted spots, and qualifiers across a group of Xfinity and Gander Trucks drivers will set the final grid. Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, current NASCAR Cup Series points leader Joey Logano, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and fan favorites such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell are participating along with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte.  Driver and NBC Sports analyst Parker Klingerman is also scheduled to compete.  The virtual race will take place at Homestead Miami Speedway and starts at 1:30 ET.

IMSA Holding Sebring SuperSaturday on iRacing:

  • The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) is holding Sebring SuperSaturday on iRacing.  A huge, 50-car field made up of real-life, professional drivers will take to the 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway iRacing circuit at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 21.  All of the cars in the field will be recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race cars – the Porsche 911 RSR, BMW M8 GTE, Ford GT and Ferrari 488 GTE.  There will be no driver changes.  The race will be available on the iRacing eSports Network on YouTube and Twitch.

Central PA Tracks Cancel Weekend Races:

  • If you were planning on getting out of the house this weekend to take in some dirt track racing in Central Pennsylvania, Williams Grove, Lincoln and Port Royal have cancelled their races.  Read our full report here.

IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon wins pole position for 106th Indianapolis 500

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Penske Entertainment

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is on the pole position for the 106th Indianapolis 500. Dixon’s 4-lap average of 234.046 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda was the second fastest qualifying average in the history of the event!

Dixon’s run broke the all-time pole record speed of 233.718 set in 1996 by Scott Brayton. Arie Luyendyk set the all-time four-lap qualifying average speed record of 236.986 in 1996, but his run came on the second day of qualifications and wasn’t eligible for the pole.

“When I saw the 234-seven after the first lap I thought, ‘this should be good’,” said Dixon. “The No. 9 PNC Bank team and Honda really brought it today.”

The Indianapolis 500 pole position was the second-straight, and fifth overall for Dixon, who trails only Rick Mears on the all-time Indy 500 pole position list.

“I’d rather have his four wins,” said Dixon of closing in on Mears pole record.

Palou, the defending series Champion, starts second in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda, giving CGR their first 1-2 start since Dixon and the late Dan Wheldon started on the front row in 2008.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay will start third in the No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet.  VeeKay’s boss was the last back-to-back pole winner before Dixon.  Carpenter will start fourth.  “I don’t know that we could’ve trimmed even more,” said Carpenter. “The thing is on the limit.  The fourth lap just wasn’t good enough.”

All five of Chip Ganassi’s Honda’s will start in the Top 12 after the squad dominated qualifying.

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The second row features CGR teammates Marcus Ericsson, who will start fifth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda, and 2013 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who will start sixth in the No. 1 American Legion Honda.

“I think my run was good,” said Ericsson. “I was hoping and thinking it was a bit faster than that but still it’s a great performance all week and we start from a really, really good spot next weekend.”

Arrow McLaren SP teammates Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist will start seventh and eighth respectively and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean rounds out row three.

The final row of the ‘Fast Twelve’ is made up of two-time 500 winner Takuma Sato of Dale Coyne Racing (10th), Team Penske’s Will Power (11th) and Indianapolis 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson, who will start 12th in the No. 48 Carvana Honda after the save of the day on his first lap of qualifying.

“To get five of our cars into the fast 12 and four into the (Firestone Fast) Six, I hope Chip has a smile on his face.,” said Dixon. “That definitely deserves a smile.”

Indy 500 Qualifying

 

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IndyCar

Indy 500 Qualifying moved up due to weather; Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan turns fastest 4-lap average in practice

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is moving the start of Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge qualifying to 11 a.m. (ET) Saturday, May 21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to the potential of rain in the afternoon for the first day of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying.

Qualifying will run until its previously scheduled end time of 5:50 p.m., weather permitting, with starting spots 13 through 33 locked in for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The morning practice session also will be moved up, with group one on the 2.5-mile oval from 8:30-9 a.m. and group two from 9-9:30 a.m.

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The revised schedule:

  • 8 a.m. – IMS Gates Open
  • 8:30-9 a.m. – Practice Group 1
  • 9-9:30 a.m. – Practice Group 2
  • 11 a.m. – PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying begins

Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Takuma Sato turned the fastest lap on a tricky ‘Fast Friday’ that was complicated by windy conditions that kept many teams in the garages for the better part of the day.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan posted the fastest 4-lap qualifying simulation average of 230.517 mph in the No. 1 American Legion Honda.  Kanaan’s CGR teammates Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon posted the fourth and fifth fastest 4-lap averages.  Ericsson turned a 231.782 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda and Dixon a 231.530 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

Peacock Premium will provide live coverage of both practice groups and the entire qualifying session, with the INDYCAR Radio Network also offering coverage. Public gates at IMS will open at their previously scheduled time of 8 a.m.

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Chip Ganassi’s cars fast as practice opens for the Indianapolis 500

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) is off to a quick start in preparations for the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.  Four of the five CGR Honda’s were in the Top 6 of the speed chart following Tuesday’s opening practice for ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’, and all five were in the Top 10.

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon led the CGR squad posting a fast lap of 227.768 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.  Right behind Dixon in third was Indianapolis 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson, who’s fast lap was 227.722 in the No. 48 Carvana Honda.

“All in all, a really good day” said Johnson. “I feel like where we ended in this session gives me a lot of confidence for working forward.  It’s just trying to work through extremes for me. What is a low trim setting? What’s a high trim setting? What’s mechanically tight? What’s mechanically free? Just trying to work through some of those big-picture things.”

Marcus Ericsson was fourth at 227.094 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate CGR Honda.

“I think it was a very positive day for me and for the team,” said Ericsson. “We rolled off (the truck) with really good cars again and sort of continued our work that we did at the open test a few weeks ago.  Really, really happy with our progress and where our car is for the moment, a positive first day.”

Defending Series Champion Alex Palou was next on the charts, ending up sixth at 226.973 in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda.

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“Felt really good to be honest,” said Palou. “The car is super-fast. We were just going through the plan.  I think all the Chip Ganassi Racing cars are super-fast. We’re looking good. A lot of work to do but we’re looking good so far.”

The fifth Ganassi entry, Tony Kanaan, was ninth quickest in the No. 1 American Legion Honda with a fast lap of 226.292.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato turned the fastest lap of the day, 228.939, in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing.

“We had a big tow,” Sato said. “In Happy Hour, if you have new tires, I think you can do that. I’m very happy with the 51 car. Dale Coyne Racing did a good job.”

Practice resumes from Noon-to-6 p.m. (ET) Wednesday (live on Peacock Premium), with PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying this Saturday and Sunday. The 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 29.

Tuesday AM 500 Practice  Tuesday Afternoon 500 Practice

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