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Racing Notebook: Practice Starts For Indy 500; Kevin Harvick on Daytona Pole and more

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James Black

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has your starting lineup for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona plus practice starts for the Indy 500, a NASCAR team gets a penalty rescinded, sponsor news for Bubba Wallace, Ryan Newman and Hendrick Motorsports.  SRX Racing makes another driver announcement.

Harvick Draws Daytona Pole Position:

  • NASCAR Cup Series Championship points leader Kevin Harvick has drawn the pole position for Sunday’s first-ever Cup Series race on the road course at Daytona International Speedway.  Harvick was awarded the pole position using NASCAR’s new “performance matrix”, which takes into account finishing position from the previous race (weighted 50%), ranking in team owner points (35%) and the fastest lap from the previous race (15%). Daytona Starting Lineup

Indy 500 Practice Begins:

Corvette Stingray To Pace Indy 500:

  • The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will lead the field of 33 to the green flag as the Official Pace Car for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.  The Torch Red Stingray coupe will be driven by General Motors President Mark Reuss, who crashed a Corvette as he was pacing the field at the Detroit Grand Prix in 2018.

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Alex Labbe and DGM Racing Penalty Overturned:

  • The National Motorsports Appeals Panel overturned a penalty against NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Alex Labbe and the DGM Racing Team. Gosselin was fined $50,000 and docked 75 owner points and Labbe was docked 75 driver points by NASCAR for a “violation of testing policy” after they ran an SCCA GT-1 race a few weekends ago Daytona International Speedway. It was noted in the statement from the panel that, “the Appellants did not violate the Rule(s) set forth in the Penalty Notice as it was written.”

Bubba Wallace Teams Up With Columbia Sportswear:

  • Columbia Sportswear has signed NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace as a brand ambassador.  In the multi-year deal Columbia will also serve as the primary sponsor on Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports on August 23 at Dover International Raceway. The partnership is the first NASCAR driver and team sponsorship for Columbia.

Hendrick Motorsports Gets Sponsorship From Acronis:

  • Data security provider Acronis is teaming up with Hendrick Motorsports in a sponsorship and technology partnership.  Acronis will be the Official Protection Partner for Hendrick and will also be the primary sponsor of Alex Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet for three races. Acronis will be prominently featured on the No. 88 later this month at Dover International Speedway and the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Guaranteed Rate Expands Partnership of RFR:

  • Guaranteed Rate, a retail mortgage lender, has signed a 12-race sponsorship agreement with Roush Fenway Racing for Ryan Newman’s Ford Mustang. Guaranteed Rate first appeared on the No. 6 Ford two weeks ago in New Hampshire and will return to Newman’s car for 11 of the season’s final 14 races.

Superstar Racing Experience Adds Another Driver:

  • Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham’s Superstar Racing Experience is adding another driver to their series.  SRX made the announcement today via their Twitter page:

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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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