FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is back in Victory Lane after winning Saturday night’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opening Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dixon’s No. 9 Honda powered away from Team Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden and on a restart on lap 197 of the 200-lap event, which ended under caution as the five-time series Champion was coming to the checkered flag.
The victory was Dixon’s 47th career INDYCAR win, which is just five wins short of tying Mario Andretti for second on the all-time victory list. A.J. Foyt is No. 1 with 67 victories. Dixon averaged 175.201 mph and led 157-laps for the victory.
“I can’t thank the team enough, everybody at PNC,” said Dixon in victory lane. “It was such a team effort. Honda, they were huge with the power out there. It was just so fast. Any situation we were in, we could just go for it. Huge thanks to everybody involved. Bummed that the fans aren’t here. We wish everybody was here to celebrate.”
Newgarden started on the pole position and Dixon started on the outside of the front row. Newgarden took the early lead after the drop of the green flag with Dixon tucking in behind the defending series Champion.
Dixon took the lead on lap 32 when he passed Newgarden on the backstretch. He quickly built a 2-second lead when Newgarden hit pit road for a fresh set of Firestone tires. Dixon led 157 of the next 168 laps. He took the lead for good on Lap 91.
The only hiccup on the day for Dixon and his “Wolfpack” crew was a lug nut that fell off a wheel during a pit stop. Dixon came out of the pits third but on the restart he passed teammate Felix Rosenqvist on the outside going into turn one and set his sights on Newgarden, who he passed a couple of laps later.
“We had a couple mistakes at the start and throughout the race, but we recovered,” said Dixon. “We had to make some big, bold moves around the outside into Turn 1, especially on Felix (Rosenqvist) and on Josef (Newgarden), which was definitely a nice repay and a nice way to get back to the lead.”
“We weren’t good enough throughout a tire stint to challenge Scott,” said Newgarden. “He was just so, so good all night.”
“It was just an intense night,” said Pagenaud. “We had balance changes – some stints we went really loose, one stint we had understeer.”
It looked liked Dixon’s chief competition would come from his teammate Rosenqvist who was running Dixon down in the closing laps of the race, but disaster struck on lap 190 for the 2019 INDYCAR rookie of the year.
Rosenqvist was running second when he came up on the car of James Hinchcliffe, who was two laps down. Rosenqvist went to the outside to begin the pass when Marco Andretti passed both cars heading into turn one. The loss of downforce from the turbulent air caused Hinchcliffe to get loose, forcing Rosenqvist up out of the racing groove and into the marbles where he lost grip, sending the No. 10 NTT Data Services Honda into the turn 2 wall.
“I went for the outside, and I probably shouldn’t have done it,” said Rosenqvist. “It’s one of those things where you sit there and you’re going like 40 mph slower than you want to go behind another car. It’s kind of tempting to just move up one lane, but it was just so slippery. I just feel really sorry for my guys. Our NTT DATA car was just unbelievable tonight.”
“I was just super loose, and I was trying to save the car, and he went on the outside,” said Hinchcliffe. “I tried to stay out of it. I feel bad for him. It’s a tough break when you’re running that well.”
Andretti Autosports Zach Veach finished fourth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda followed by Ed Carpenter who rounded out the top 5.
The race on the 1.5-mile oval was the season opener for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of racing for nearly three months. This event took place without fans as a health-and-safety precaution.
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, July 4 on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of an INDYCAR NASCAR doubleheader weekend. Those races will also be run without fans as a precaution.
Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feature Dallaras as the race cars.
Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this week unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.
Dallara has been the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series since 2002, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.
“Dallara is the best racecar engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”
“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”
One of the teams competing in the challenge is the Panther AV RAS-ing team from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Panther AV RAS-ing is part of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software that have responded to the challenge. The challengers represent 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.
The IAC is scheduled for October 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races.
“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”
Two companies headquartered in Western Pennsylvania are sponsors of the event. Ansys, a global leader in engineering simulation that is headquartered in Canonsburg, and Aptiv, an autonomous vehicle company who is relocating from O’Hara Township to Hazelwood Green.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Rescheduled
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being rescheduled from its traditional March date to April 23-25, 2021.
The move to a later spring date is being made in the hopes that a greater number of fans will be able to attend the event, which takes place on the streets of St. Petersburg and the Albert Whitted Airport.
“I want to thank our friends at INDYCAR and our partners at Green Savoree for putting the health and safety of fans first,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “Each of these races takes an incredible amount of work from hundreds of dedicated professionals, and I know the decision to move the date of the race is not made lightly. I appreciate the drivers, teams, staff and most of all the fans for their patience and understanding. I look forward to welcoming everyone to the next Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The COVID-19 Pandemic forced the 2020 event to be moved from the season opening race to the season finale, where Josef Newgarden picked up the win and Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon was crowned the series Champion for the 6th time.
“It’s not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic,” said Penske Entertainment Corp President and CEO Mark Miles. “We’re delighted we were able to work with Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration and Green Savoree Racing Promotions to find a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC Network televison.”
The April 23-25 date on the INDYCAR Schedule announced last fall was originally supposed to be the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach but that event has been moved to the season finale, which opened the date for St. Pete.
“We appreciate the officials at INDYCAR for their support in setting a new date for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and also to Mayor Kriseman and his team at the City of St. Petersburg for identifying a time when it will be conducive for more fans to attend,” said Kim Green, co-owner, Chairman and CEO fo Green-Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC. “We are grateful to keep the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the springtime window and also maintain the live national broadcast of the race on NBC.”
The shifting of race dates moves Barber Motorsports Park to the season opener on April 11th. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg follows April 25th with Texas Motor Speedway doubleheader May 1st and 2nd.
An updated listing of green flag times will be announced at a later date.
Aldo Andretti Passes Away
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Aldo Andretti has passed away at the age of 80. Andretti was the twin brother of Mario Andretti and a racer himself who survived two bad crashes, the second of which in 1969 book his jaw, 14-bones and his right eye socket.
“Though Aldo’s life took a different direction than brother Mario’s, Aldo forever shared a passion for racing and was a true motor enthusiast and entrepreneur,” Andretti Autosport said in a release. “He could often still be found on the racing circuit supporting and following the careers of the family.”
Mario Andretti took to his twitter page to express his grief:
Aldo Andretti, my loving twin brother, my partner in crime and my faithful best friend every day of my life was called to heaven last night. Half of me went with him. There is no eloquence. I'm shaken to my core. pic.twitter.com/NJ3fZxklNo
— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) December 31, 2020
One of those careers Aldo passionately followed was that of his son John (pictured with above) who raced in INDYCAR, NASCAR, Sports Cars and Drag Racing. John passed away in January after a long battle with colon cancer.
“Nothing mattered more to Aldo than family, and it brought him great pride to share his life with wife and high-school sweetheart Corky and their five children Carolyn, Mark, John, Mary Jo and Adam.” the Andretti Autosport release stated.
Aldo’s nephew, 2020 Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Marco Andretti, also shared his feelings on social media.
RIP uncle Aldo. One of the toughest guys I have ever met. I have never heard him complain, a trait that he passed down to John. Always so positive and upbeat and raised an amazing side of our Andretti family. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/D6p3RyTdkG
— Marco Andretti (@MarcoAndretti) December 31, 2020
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon on Jan. 5 at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Brownsburg. The family will receive friends from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4, at Stevens Mortuary in Indianapolis.