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Weekend Racing Preview

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Plenty of racing action this weekend for all of the gear heads out there.  Here’s a look at what is happening both locally and nationally:

Fab 4 Friday At Lernerville:

  • All four divisions will be in action tonight at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver.  Carl Bowser leads the People’s Natural Gas Sprint Car standings with Brandon Spithaler only 2-points behind.  In the Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models Russ King holds a 3-point lead over Matt Lux with Michael Lake 5-points behind.  Garrett Krummert leads the Diehl Automotive Big Block Modified standings by 3-points over Dave Murdick.  Rex King Jr and Brian Swartzlander are 7-points out of the top spot.  In the Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stocks Tyler Dietz leads Jason Fosnaught by 4-points. Mike Miller is one point behind Fosnaught and Corey McPherson is 7-points out of the lead.

INDYCAR Doubleheader at Iowa Speedway:

  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES begins a doubleheader at Iowa Speedway Friday night.  Chip Ganassi Racing is looking to make it 5-in-a-row after Scott Dixon won the first three races and his teammate Felix Rosenqvist won race 2 at Road America.  Andretti Autosport has won six of the last 10 races at Iowa and seven of the 13-races run at the 7/8ths mile oval.  Dixon leads the Championship standings by 54-points over Colton Herta.  The green flag drops at 9:15 p.m. ET on Friday and at 8:45 p.m. ET on Saturday.
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Herb Scott Memorial Saturday at PPMS:

  • The 8th Annual Herb Scott Memorial for the Diehl Automotive RUSH Late Model Dirt Series and the RUSH Late Model Touring Series takes place Saturday night at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.  Scott was a 10-time track Champion at Heidelberg Raceway and had over 520-feature wins.  Also on the schedule are the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series, the PPMS Pro Stocks, the Keystone Coach Works Hobby Stocks, the Four Cylinders, and the Young Guns. Gates open at 5 p.m., hot laps begin at 6 p.m., and the racing action will begin at 7 p.m.

5 Divisions of Racing at Jennerstown:

  • Five divisions of racing are on tap at Jennerstown Speedway on Saturday.  Teddy Gibala leads Barry Awtey by 9-points in the Late Model standings.  Anthony Aiello holds a 5-point lead or RJ Dallape in the Modifieds.  Casey Fleegle and Aaron VanFleet are tied atop the Street Stocks standings with Mel Wilt 16-points back.  In the Fast Fours, Jeff Vasos holds a 2-point lead over Michael Strouse with Paul Koffler III 34-points behind.  Dale Kimblerly has built a 31-point lead in the Chargers standings based on the strength of 4-wins.  Kyle Burkholder sits in 2nd place, 31-points behind the leader.  Hot laps start at 4:30 with Opening Ceremonies at 5:55 p.m.

All Stars Begin Keystone State Weekend:

  • The Ollies Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 begins a three-race Western Pennsylvania swing this weekend.  The action begins Friday night at Williams Grove with the annual Tommy Hinnershitz Memorial Classic.  Hinnershitz was a 7-time AAA/USAC Eastern Big Car Champion.  The All Stars move to Port Royal on Saturday for The Bob Weikert Memorial Weekend. Two separate $10,000 to win, $700 to start main events.

All Three NASCAR Series At Texas Motor Speedway:

  • The top three NASCAR Series are racing at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.  The NASCAR Xfinity Series hits the track first on Saturday with the My Bariatric Solutions 300 at 3 p.m. ET.  Saturday night the Gander RV & Outdoors NASCAR Truck Series takes center stage with the Vankor 350 at 8 p.m. ET.  The NASCAR Cup Series races on Sunday with the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at 3 p.m. ET.
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IndyCar

Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled

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Indy Autonomous Challenge/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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.”

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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.

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Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Rescheduled

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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.

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“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.

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Aldo Andretti Passes Away

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Chris Owens

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:

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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.

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.

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