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PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon Wins GMR Grand Prix At Indianapolis

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Chris Owens

SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon picked up his 48th career win by taking the checkered flag in Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES GMR Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s so good to be back here racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Dixon, a 5-time Series Champion.  “We’ve had so many runner-up finishes on the road course it was just nice to win one.”

Dixon, who finished second in the event the past three years, beat Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal by 20-seconds to pick up back-to-back wins to start a season for the first time in his illustrious career.

“It’s amazing to be able to pick up the first two wins of the season,” said Dixon.  “But it doesn’t guarantee anything.  We’ll just keep our heads down, we’ll keep trying to stay up front and get some points.  It’s a great way to start but it doesn’t cement anything.”

Dixon is now 4-wins behind the legendary Mario Andretti (52 wins) for second place on the all-time INDYCAR wins list.  A.J. Foyt is the all-time wins leader with 67.

“It’s amazing to be in the same conversation as these people,” said Dixon.  “I remember looking back and watching races of Mario when I first came to America in 1997 and watching races of A.J. Foyt.  They’re legends of the sport.  I just feel lucky to be doing what I’m doing.  It’s not just me.  It’s the team behind us, it’s the partners like PNC Bank, it’s Chip, it’s Honda, it’s hundreds of people that make it possible so I just feel very special to be a part of it.”

Rahal’s 2nd place finish in the Fifth Third Bank Honda tied his best finish at the Indy GP which happened back in 2015.

“The Fifth Third Bank car was great today,” said Rahal.  “I thought our guys did a tremendous job.  Dixie had tremendous pace in the mid part of the race.  I was on black (Firestone Primary) tires struggling a little bit.  For our team after Dallas this feels really good.”

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud finished third after starting deep in the field in the 20th position.

“Yesterday was not the day we wanted in qualifying,” said Pagenaud, who won last year’s GMR Grand Prix.  “We unloaded well and went in the wrong direction.  It was a negative for a positive because I think it sets us up this season really early on knowing what we need for the car.  We weren’t totally happy when we started the race and we adjusted the car and it got better and better.”

Pagenaud’s Team Penske teammate Will Power started on the pole position and led the first 18-laps when the team decided to scrap plans for a 2-pit stop strategy after other teams decided that abandon that same strategy for 3-stop efforts.

Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey, who started second, inherited the lead until his pit stop on lap 19.

Rahal, who started fourth and moved up to third place by turn one, took the lead at that point and stuck with a three-stop strategy and reeled off quick laps until his first stop on lap 26.

Power regained the lead after the remainder of the cars on the two-stop strategy pitted for service.

Midway through the race a number of drivers on the three-stop strategy hit pit road for their second stops. Shortly thereafter Arrow McLaren SP’s Oliver Askew lost control coming onto the front stretch and smacked the wall hard bringing out the first caution of the race on lap 36.

“Really unfortunate,” said Askew, the 2019 IndyLights Champion and a rookie in NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition.  “Unacceptable to have a result like that to be honest.  I just lost the rear of the car.  It was towards the end of my stint so the rears (tires) were starting to go away and it just really caught me off guard.”

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Power and everyone who had not made their second stop hit pit road during the caution period on lap 39.

Several drivers including Rahal, Citrone-Buhl with RLL’s Spencer Pigot and Dixon stayed out.

“We started on the black tires and that sent us on a pretty aggressive 3-stopper,” explained Dixon.  “That’s when our window was to pit and then three or four laps later the yellow came out and we were the ones that cycled to the front.  Definitely a little bit of luck there and it hung out the leaders for sure but we had the pace.”

Rahal led the field back to green on lap 40 with Pigot, Conor Daly and Dixon closely behind.

On lap 42, a frustrating start to the 2020 season for Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi continued as he suffered a mechanical issue forcing and end to his day.  Rossi’s car failed to start at the beginning of the season opener at Texas where he eventually rallied to a 15th place finish.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Rossi. “We just lost power when we started trying to get going again.  I think it potentially is a fuel pressure issue.  We’ve had a couple of fuel pressure gremlins throughout the weekend.  It’s a shame to have two of these weekends in-a-row.”

Dixon got around Daly on that same lap to move into third place with Colton Herta in tow.  Dixon passed Pigot on lap 45, trailing Rahal by just under one second, so the battle of the banking sponsors was on.

Three laps later Dixon passed Rahal on the front stretch to take the lead. Dixon quickly built a five-second lead in just two laps, up to 8-seconds after nine laps and 9.3-seconds after ten laps.

Rahal hit pit road for his final service on lap 55 along with Pagenaud.

Dixon brought the No. 9 Honda to pit road a lap later, coming out in ninth place after service by his “Wolfpack” crew.

Pigot and Herta hit pit road for service a lap later and the pair came out in 13th and 14th respectively.

Josef Newgarden inherited the lead through that pit stop cycle and stayed out front until lap 62 when he came to pit road, giving the lead back to Dixon.

Dixon kept the hammer down, building a lead of over 15-seconds with ten laps to go in the race, 18-seconds with seven laps remaining, 18.7 seconds with five laps remaining, 19.5 with three laps to go and 20-seconds with one lap to go.

With Dixon checking out, the battle was on for second place between Rahal and Pagenaud with Rahal prevailing.

The most drama for Dixon and the entire PNC team were off-track excursions by Andretti Autosport drivers Marco Andretti and Zach Veach, who both cruised through the grass with less than five-laps remaining, however both were able to get back on track without brining out a caution.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to Road America next weekend for a doubleheader on the scenic, natural terrain road course.

GMR Grand Prix Results

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INDYCAR Community Reacts To No Fans At Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The INDYCAR community is reacting to the news that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has decided to run the Indy 500 on August 23 without fans in attendance.  The decision is a reversal of a plan set forth a few weeks ago where the event would be run in front of 25-percent of the capacity of the Speedway.

Speedway President J. Douglas Boles, who has been a guest on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast, is appreciative of his team and the fans:

Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal took to social media to make some great points:

Spencer Pigot who drives for Steelers minority owner Rob Citrone and Robbie Buhl’s team Citrone Buhl Autosport with RLL also took to Twitter to express his feelings:

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson also weighed in:

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Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Real and Alexander Rossi, two former 500 winners had this to say:

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who’s boss owns the Speedway has a great idea:

Stay tuned to Pittsburgh Racing Now for updated comments from the INDYCAR Community

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No Fans At Indianapolis 500 in 2020

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is cancelling plans to have fans at the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race.

“It is with great regret that we announce the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Aug. 23 without fans.  This tough decision was made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership” the Speedway said in a statement.

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“As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the city and state, the COVID-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened.  Since our June 26 announcement, the number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled.  We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment.”

The Speedway is closing all on-track activity to the general public, including practice and qualifications.  Ticket holders will be credited for the 2021 Indianapolis 500 and will retain their seniority and their originally assigned seats.

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The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast – Episode 15 – Aaron Reutzel, Matthew Dillner, Chip Ganassi and more!

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The latest edition of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast features the 2-time and defending Champion of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 Aaron Reutzel.  We also talk to Matthew Dillner of Dirty Mo Media about the new show he co-hosts with Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chip Ganassi takes his own trip down memory lane and we hear from Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials about safety protocols in place at this year’s Indy 500.

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