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Josef Newgarden Completes Team Penske Sweep Of INDYCAR Races At Iowa Speedway

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Joe Skibinski

NEWTON, IA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Josef Newgarden started on the pole and led 214-of-250-laps to dominate race two of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader Saturday night at Iowa Speedway.

Newgarden, the two-time and defending series Champion, beat his Team Penske teammate Will Power by 2.7869-seconds to pick up his first win of 2020 and 15th of his career.

“It feels really good,” said Newgarden, who was leading Friday night’s race when he made a pit stop, only to have the caution flag fly trapping the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet a lap down. “I don’t know what we have to do to keep the bad luck off of us, but hopefully this is the start.”

“It feels good,” said Power.  “We just had a solid day. I would have loved to have the win, of course.”

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal finished third in the No. 15 Hy-Vee Honda to pick up his second podium finish of the year.

“I think we actually had the best car on track tonight,” said Rahal, who started 19th. “We passed a ton of cars. It was just hard at the end when Will (Power) was driving on the same line as me. It was difficult up high to get the grip to go by.”

Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who picked up the victory in race one, finished fourth in the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet.

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“It was a tough, dramatic weekend, but we prevailed,” said Pagenaud. “We weren’t quite as hooked up today. Maybe we didn’t have the outright pace, but overall first and fourth is pretty good when we started last in both races. I’m pretty pleased with our results.”

PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon, who was the runner-up to Pagenaud on Friday night, rounded out the Top 5 in the No. 9 Honda after starting 18th in the 23-car field.

“I think we knew this weekend was going to be one of our biggest challenges in terms of race weekends,” said Dixon, a 5-time series Champion. “We haven’t been as strong at Iowa as we’ve been at other tracks. We worked on it and tried some things and learned a lot, and we were able to work our way up and get a good result for the PNC Bank car.”

One of the strongest cars late in the race was the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Pato O’Ward.  O’Ward was chasing down Newgarden but disaster struck on the last pit stop when the crew dropped the car before the wheel nut was tight on the left rear.  The crew had to jack the car back up and tighten the wheel costing O’Ward a lap in the process.

“The best way to sum it up is ‘what could have been’,” said O’Ward the 2018 Indy Lights Champion. “We had the pace; we were strong. I made up positions to be fighting at the front. In the end, it was not meant to be for us, but we’re going to continue pushing to finish strong at Mid-Ohio.”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES next race is as close to Pittsburgh as the Series comes as they visit the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.  For tickets and information visit www.midohio.com.

INDYCAR Iowa Race 2 Results

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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