ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won his third straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES race Saturday at Road America, holding off Team Penske’s Will Power on a couple of late restarts to grab the victory.
“I don’t know how that happened,” said Dixon in Victory Lane. “Huge thank you to everybody on the PNC Bank team. The car was really hard to drive this morning but we dialed it in a little better during the race. That was awesome man”.
“It was a good drive,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “We didn’t start exactly where we wanted to today but he persevered.”
Dixon’s crew made a crucial decision during the second round of pit stops to call Dixon in early while he was stuck in traffic running sixth.
Dixon came out of the pits ahead of the traffic alongside a hard-charging Power, who pitted a lap before the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda. While Dixon and Power were battling it out, the leader of the race Josef Newgarden came to pit road.
Disaster stuck for Newgarden when he stalled the car on pit road. Team Penske got the PPG Chevy restarted and the defending series Champion returned to the field in 15th position.
The pit-stop cycle shuffled the running order and Power and Dixon found themselves at the front of the pack followed by Santino Ferrucci in the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan Honda.
“We came out of the pits they’re (the team) like ‘you and Power first and second’ and I was like ‘how?'” marveled Dixon.
The trio had a 5-second lead on fourth place Ryan Hunter-Reay with 20-laps left in the 55-lap event. Three laps later the caution flag came out for this week’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast guest Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing. Harvey suffered brake failure, sending the No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM Honda into the gravel trap.
“I went into the corner at Turn Three and my brakes locked up and the wheels spun,” said Harvey. “There wasn’t much I could do when the brakes failed in that way. All year we’ve had a fast car and that is what is frustrating because this was a weekend that we could have had a top five. Something randomly happened that took us out of contention which is greatly disappointing for myself and the whole Meyer Shank Racing team. I know that we have the speed and these guys will work hard to figure out exactly what went wrong so that we can come back equally as strong tomorrow.”
Dixon’s “Wolfpack” crew executed a flawless pit stop under caution giving the 5-time series Champion the lead off pit road ahead of Power.
Dixon took the ensuing green flag with 14-laps-to-go and held off Power going into Turn 1 but before the lap was even complete, the caution was back out when Conor Daly was sent off the track by contact with Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward as the pair went into Turn 7.
“It really hard to go 2-wide through there but I had enough of a run you’ve got to take a chance,” said Daly. “I don’t really race with him that much but it was tough there, that’s probably on both of us.”
The subsequent restart saw Dixon get away from Power but the yellow came out again when rookie A.J. Foyt Racing driver Dalton Kellett ended up in the gravel in Turn 14.
The green flag came back out with 8-laps to go and Dixon beat Power into Turn 1 and rookie Alex Palou beat Hunter-Reay to get third place.
Dixon built a lead of 1.2-seconds in one lap, 1.6-seconds in two laps and maintained that lead with 5-laps to go. Dixon extended the lead to 1.8-seconds with 4-laps to go, 2.3-seconds with three laps to go and 2.5-seconds with one lap to go.
The win was Dixon’s 49th career win leaving him three shy of INDYCAR legend Mario Andretti for 2nd place on the all-time wins list. The victory marks the 2nd time Dixon has won three races in a row. The first time was in 2013 when Dixon won Pocono and both Toronto races.
“It’s not me man,” said Dixon. “The team does such an amazing job to cover all the bases. We’re in the business of winning so we’ve got to win. Proud of everybody on this team and obviously our partners like PNC Bank and Honda. It’s really cool to win today.”
Dixon goes into tomorrow’s second race at Road America with a 62-point lead over Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the INDYCAR Championship standing.
Dixon will look to make it four-straight wins to start the NTT INDYCAR SERIES tomorrow in Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader at noon (ET, NBC) from Road America.
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.