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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.

IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson And Chip Ganassi Racing Agree To Multi-Year Deal

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Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Marcus Ericsson will continue to drive Chip Ganassi’s No. 8 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after agreeing to a multi-year deal.

Ericsson, 30, joined the team in 2020 after competing for Schmidt Petersen Motorsports for his inaugural INDYCAR season in 2019.

“I’m very happy to continue my relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda and HPD into 2021 and beyond,” said Ericsson. “I want to thank Chip and the whole CGR organization for their trust in me. Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the best teams in motorsports and I’m proud to be part of the team. The season we’ve just finished has been full of potential and I feel confident that with what we’ve learned together this year will help us succeed in 2021. I’m looking forward to getting back in the No. 8 Honda!”

This past season Ericsson posted nine top-10 finished in 14-races with a season-best fourth-place finish as Road America. Ericsson finished 12th in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings.

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“Marcus proved that he belongs here, and this season he contributed to the success of our team greatly,” said Mike Hull, CGR’s Managing Director. “That includes being unselfish to his teammates, especially with Scott Dixon who won the INDYCAR championship. He’s a great foundational piece of our overall program and he fits well within our group. That translates into success on the track, and we’re glad to have him continue to grow and move the team toward into the future.”

Ericsson may only have two years of INDYCAR experience but he has an extensive racing resume including 97-starts in Formula 1. The Kumla, Sweden native is a two-time champion (Formula BMW UK, 2007; Japanese Formula Three, 2009), and has twice claimed the Swedish Junior Racer of the Year award (2007, 2009). Ericsson also previously competed in British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2.

Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond.  Huski Chocolate partnered with the team in 2020.

The Ericsson deal combined with the addition of Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Carvana Honda and the return of Scott Dixon in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda leaves the No. 10 NTT Data Honda as the only remaining question mark for CGR heading into the 2021 season.

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IndyCar

Scott Dixon Wins 6th INDYCAR Championship & Chip Ganassi Racing Wins Their 13th

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Joe Skibinski

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon wasn’t even born when INDYCAR legend A.J. Foyt won his sixth Championship in 1975, but Sunday Dixon joined Foyt as the only other 6-time INDYCAR Champion.

Dixon finished third in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, winning the title by 16-points over Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.

“Well, six is good,” said Dixon. “Seven is better. That’s going to be the goal.”

Dixon started the race in 11th position and had to finish eighth or ninth depending on where Newgarden finished. Newgarden didn’t make it easy, winning the race for the second year in-a-row.

“Credit to Josef (Newgarden) and Team Penske,” said Dixon. “He drove a hell of a race there and put us under a lot of pressure. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly and gained a lot of points.”

The No. 9 team started the 2020 season with three-straight wins and built up a lead of 117-points but saw it dwindle to 32-points following races at Mid-Ohio in September and the Harvest Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this month.

Dixon and his “Wolfpack” crew however managed to lead the Championship throughout the entire season.

“It’s all the team,” credited Dixon. “I can’t thank everybody on this team enough. Obviously, Chip (Ganassi), Mike (Hull) and Barry (Wanser) and everybody involved.”

A big part of Dixon’s team is wife Emma, daughters Poppy and Tilly and son Kit.

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“Big thanks to my wife Emma and my family,” said Dixon.  “I’m glad my girls are here, unfortunately (toddler son) Kit isn’t here.

Scott Dixon celebrates with his wife Emma and Daughters Poppy and Tilly after winning his sixth NTT IndyCar Series Championship.

It’s a big shame that he couldn’t be here. I can’t thank them enough. We’ll have to win another one so he can be in the pictures.”

The Championship is the 13th for Chip Ganassi and his team, which is celebrating their 30th Anniversary in 2020.

“It’s never just one thing or one person. For me, it’s about the team effort. We had a lot of changes in the offseason but huge thanks again to everyone on the team.”

The Championship is also Dixon’s second in three-years for Pittsburgh-headquartered PNC Bank.

“PNC Bank, two out of three years (as champion) – that’s pretty good going,” said Dixon. “I can’t thank all of our partners enough: PNC Bank, Honda, NTT Data, Huski Chocolate.”

Honda took home the Manufacturers Championship for the third year in-a-row.

“I’m proud to be powered by Honda and what they’ve been able to pull out this year given the deficit we’ve had going into Indy previous years,” said Dixon. “They nailed it. Big thanks to everybody.”

“Human beings are the thing that make the world go around and Scott is a very special human being,” said Ted Klaus, President of Honda Performance Development (HPD). “We call them the ‘driver’ for a reason, because they drive the whole team. Scott drives everything about, not just Chip Ganassi Racing, but HPD and he drives us. And we need those kinds of strong drivers to get the achievements that we seek. I don’t think he’s done. I think he’s still hungry and I think it humbles all of us. Good for Scott!”

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Josef Newgarden Wins Firestone Grand Prix Of St. Petersburg But Falls Short In Championship

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Chris Jones

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is the 2020 winner of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Newgarden’s victory was his fourth of the year and 18th of his INDYCAR career.  Newgarden’s win also continued a trend of back-to-back winners on the streets of St. Petersburg. Juan Pablo Montoya won the race in 2015-16, Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017-18 and Newgarden the past two years 2019-20.

The victory was bittersweet for the defending series champion as he came up 16-points short in the battle with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon.

“First off, congratulations to Scott (Dixon) and all his guys, his crew,” said Newgarden. “It’s big time to win six championships. I’m sure they’re thrilled. They’re a great competitor.”

Newgarden and his Team Penske crew did everything in their power to win the title but also needed Dixon to finish tenth or worse in the race.

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“On one hand, I don’t really know what I could do different this year,” reflected Newgarden. “I don’t know what I could ask my guys to do different. We knew coming into this that fate wasn’t in our own hands. We weren’t going to be able to decide things. So, we just did what we could and hoped for the best.”

Their best was just not quite enough to beat a Dixon, who is now a six-time Champion, and the Ganassi team, who now has 13-Championships.

“Credit to Josef,” said Dixon. “He drove a hell of a race there and put us under a lot of pressure. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly. And we know next year is going to be the same.”

“We weren’t good enough, said Newgarden, a two-time Champion himself. “We’ll reset. We’ll hit them harder next year. I promise you we’ll be in the fight; this crew will be in the fight every year. So, I have confidence we’ll come back.”

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