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Felix Rosenqvist Wins First INDYCAR Race At Road America As Chip Ganassi Racing Sweeps The Weekend

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Joe Skibinski

ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist passed Pato O’Ward on the second to the last lap to grab his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES win Sunday in race two of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America.

“It feels so good,” said Rosenqvist.  “It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times. This race was for my No. 10 car crew, the NTT DATA crew.”

Rosenqvist was trailing O’Ward by over 5-seconds following the final set of pit stops but made up that gap over the final 13-laps to grab the win.

“We had so much pace,” said Rosenqvist. “We kept closing in half a second every lap. And then when they said Pato (O’Ward) was on the used reds (Firestone alternate tires), you obviously get a lot of faith that he might drop off in the end, and that’s what happened. I’m really proud to be powered by HPD and Honda this year. It’s been really good.”

The victory was Chip Ganassi Racing’s fourth straight INDYCAR Series win to open the 2020 season and also gave CGR the weekend sweep following Scott Dixon’s win on Saturday in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

“First off, huge congrats to Felix (Rosenqvist) for that drive,” said Dixon. “I’m so happy for him and NTT DATA. It’s another win for them at Road America. We all knew this moment was coming for Felix, and it was just a matter of time. What a start for CGR and Honda, though. Four-for-four on the season.”

“It’s four out of four for Ganassi, which is huge,” said Rosenqvist. “What amazing feeling. I’m so glad we had the John McCain tribute on the car, and to be able to do this for NTT DATA and the family really means a lot to us at the team.”

McCain is the late former Chairman and CEO of NTT DATA SERVICES who passed away in February after a battle with glioblastoma.

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O’Ward held on for second place as his tires were wearing out and he was trying to save fuel to make it to the end.

“It was really tough,” said O’Ward. “The Ganassi cars and Felix (Rosenqvist) had a lot of pace. We did a really good job managing the whole race. I gave it every single little bit that I had. I was pushing, pushing, pushing but I couldn’t keep Felix behind me.”

Alexander Rossi’s nightmarish start to the 2020 season was tempered by a third place finish at Road America.

“After the last couple races, it’s good to finish on the lead lap,” said Rossi.

The newest member of the Ganassi team, Marcus Ericsson, came home fourth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda.  Ericsson passed the most cars on the day, gaining 12-spots from his 16th starting position.

“It was a great race, and I feel we got a great result for the guys and Huski Chocolate,” said Ericsson. “We had a ton of pace and a lot of great overtakes. Honda and HPD power was fantastic, and we really had a great car.”

Dixon had an uncharacteristic finish of 12th.  Dixon started sixth and survived mayhem at the start when Will Power tagged Ryan Hunter Reay going into turn one and then tagged Graham Rahal in Turn 3, ending both of their days.

“Not the day we wanted with the PNC Bank car, but we fought balance and the rear tires just kept going away,” said Dixon. I guess you can’t win them all, but we sure tried to with the start to the season we’ve had.”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES moves on to Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader on Friday and Saturday night.

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IndyCar

INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NBC Network announced on Tuesday a multi-year extension to the media rights of the open wheel series.

NBC Sports will continue to be the exclusive home of the Indianapolis 500 and will provide coverage of all NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, qualifying, practices and Indy Lights races across its linear, digital and streaming platforms, including Peacock. Terms of the deal were not announced.

“NBC Sports is proud to extend its partnership with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and continue to serve as the exclusive home of the most competitive open-wheel racing series in the world and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Jon Miller, NBC Sports.

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“NBC Sports has been the ideal partner for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, bringing our bold and audacious style of racing to a significantly larger domestic audience and fully leveraging the power and scale of the Indianapolis 500,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “This new deal represents a significant expansion of our network TV exposure and sets us up for continued growth and success alongside a committed, innovative and world-class broadcast partner.”

INDYCAR and NBC are enjoying strong ratings for the 2021.  Ratings are up 30% this year.

As part of the agreement, 13 races will be broadcast on NBC. USA Network and Peacock Premium will show the remaining races. Telemundo Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage of the season-opening race, the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale.

Peacock will stream all races on NBC and USA Network and will continue as the streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying and practices sessions, Indy Lights races and full-event replays. Peacock will stream two races exclusively, which will be announced at a later date.

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Dirt Racing

Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship

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NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott joined the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) for their season finale at Nashville Fairgrounds and took home the checkered flag beating Tony Stewart and his father Bill Elliott in the feature.  The win was the first series victory for the younger Elliott.

Chase Elliott was on the inside with Stewart on the outside on a restart with 7-laps-to-go followed by Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte in Row 2.

Chase Elliott beat Stewart into turn one and two with Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte side-by-side for third.

Caution came out with 5-laps-to-go when Paul Tracy made contact with Marco Andretti, sending Andretti into a spin after picking up three spots following the restart.

Chase Elliott got the jump on Stewart on the restart and held on to pick up the win. Stewart finished second and took home the inaugural series Championship.

“Man it was so much fun,” said Chase Elliott.  “I had a ball.  I got to race against two of my heroes tonight and I got to race against Dad there throughout the race and those are moments that I’ll cherish forever.  Thanks to Ray (Evernham, Series co-owner) and Tony (Stewart, Series co-owner) and I appreciate NAPA being on the car.”

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NASCAR Hall-of-famer Bill Elliott, 65, finished third and picked up a win in the first heat race where he started side-by-side with his son Chase.

“I messed up in one not getting all the stuff (marbles) off my tires,” said Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup Series Champion.  “Man I tell you it was a lot of fun. I knew the way the tires were on these cars and the way Chase manages his stuff he was going to be tough to beat.”

“I don’t know what lit a fire under him tonight,” said Chase Elliott.  “But he was as aggressive as I have seen him in years.  It was amazing and a lot of fun.  I thought it was going to be between he and I but he got a little high going into (turn) one.”

The win was also special for the Elliott Family as they were able to park the No. 94 in Victory Lane.  Casey Elliott, the late son of legendary engine builder Ernie Elliott, raced the No. 94 in the ARCA and Busch (now Xfinity) Series before his life was cut short by cancer.

“Obviously a special number too,” said Chase Elliott.  “My late Cousin Casey Elliott ran the 94 for years and years and it’s always special to run that number and I’m glad we were able to get it in Victory Lane at Nashville.”

“How could you ask for more than to finish between two Elliott’s, that’s pretty bad-ass in itself,” said Stewart. “To win this Championship is awesome.  I really appreciate Marcus Lemonis and everyone at Camping World for stepping up and helping us get this thing off the ground.  To be the last guy to win an IROC Championship and the first one to win an SRX Championship means a lot.”

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IndyCar

Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio

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Joe Skibinski

LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden picked up his, and Team Penske’s, first win of 2021 holding off Marcus Ericsson to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Newgarden started on the pole position and led 73-of-80-laps to pick up his first win since the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“This team has been doing the job,” said Newgarden. “Everyone has been giving me a hard time, asking what’s up with us not winning a race. But I don’t think these people at Team Penske could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race, had great performance. It’s great to seal a win here finally.”

Newgarden spoiled a tremendous afternoon for Chip Ganassi Racing, the winningest INDYCAR team at Mid-Ohio.

CGR’s Ericsson finished second, 0.8790-seconds behind Newgarden.  The second place finish was Ericsson’s seventh top-10 finish of 2021.

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“We were hunting him down there,” said Ericsson. “He (Newgarden) was really struggling with his tires the last five laps. Just catching him quickly. Another lap or two would be even better, but I’ll take second today.”

Ericsson’s CGR teammate Alex Palou and Scott Dixon finished third and fourth respectively to give Chip Ganassi three cars in the top 5.

“It’s always good to start P7 and you finish on the podium,” said Palou. “Yeah, I think today was a good result.”

“I think it was a great day, great day for the team, to have me, Alex and Scott, P2, P3 and P4,” said Ericsson. “It’s a strong result. Shows how strong we are at the moment”

Palou remains the Championship points leader, 39 points ahead of Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP. Dixon is third, 56 points behind Palou. Newgarden remained fourth, 69 points back of the leader, and Ericsson jumped three positions to take fifth in the standings, 104 points behind Palou.

INDYCAR Mid Ohio Results

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