SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon posted the fastest lap in the second day of practice for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 present by Gainbridge.
Dixon’s fast lap of 226.102 mph in the No. 9 Honda came late in the session with the aid of an aerodynamic tow.
“Today, we made some minor changes and tried to figure out some different balances,” said Dixon, who opened the season with three-straight victories. “We’re also focusing on how the cars feels. We also worked on finding traffic today to see how the car would respond.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato posted the second fastest lap, 225.693 mph, which came early in the days action.
I’m pretty happy,” said Sato. “I think it was quite a productive day. Obviously the scoreboard was nice, being in the first place and second place felt good. It means nothing, but I think that’s a reflection of the cars getting quite a good adhesion. You get in a big tow, you’re able to follow people with the new tire. Obviously, that pure speed is far off from non-tow situation, but I’m pretty happy with that speed.”
Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti continued his strong start by posting the third fastest lap of the day at 225.249 mph. Andretti was 2nd fastest overall on Wednesday (day 1).
“We tried some things outside the box that didn’t really work,” said Andretti. “The good thing for me at Indy in the past has been what you go back to what you think is good, and it still works. So we went back to what we had, and the car feels good like it did yesterday.”
Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammates were a little over a half-second behind their teammate. Felix Rosenqvist’s fast lap in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda was 222.645 mph and Marcus Ericsson was right behind him in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda at 222.630 mph.
“We’re not where I want to be yet with the balance, and we’ve been going in circles a little bit,” said Rosenqvist, who picked up a win earlier in the season in the second race at Road America. “It always feels bad when you’re running in traffic, but we really have to push it these next few days and put ourselves in the worst type of scenario to get really good in the race. We’re sticking to our program and working hard.”
“I think it was another good day with a lot of laps done,” said Ericsson. “We went through different setups again and tried some different downforce levels. We’ve mainly been gathering information and focusing on the car. I have a good feeling in the car. It feels good in traffic, and that’s what you want.”
Sato’s teammates Graham Rahal was also a half-second behind his teammate in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda at 223.297 mph. Spencer Pigot was a tick behind Rahal in the No. 45 Hy-Vee EMBRACE Pittsburgh Honda at 223.043 mph.
“We had a really good day for the No. 15 United Rentals team,” said Rahal. “We did a couple of long runs, and the last one in particular felt really good. We seemed to be competitive. We tried a lot so we stopped a little bit early because we’ve got a lot of data to go through.”
“The day was okay,” said Pigot. “I think we had a few things that we didn’t quite get a handle on today, but we definitely made some good changes throughout the day to the Hy-Vee/EMBRACE Pittsburgh car, so we will try to build on those for the next time we do race running.”
Teams get additional turbo boost on “Fast Friday” as they begin preparations for qualifying on Saturday and the “Fast 9 Shootout” on Sunday, which will decide the pole position and the first three rows (positions 1 thru 9) for “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing”.
“It’s always exciting when the boost gets turned up,” said Pigot. “It’s definitely a little different going a lot faster with less downforce. We’re just trying to get the opposite of today where we were looking for traffic, running with cars to improve our race setup, and now we’re looking to be all by ourselves. It’s a totally different mindset, but Fast Friday is always a fun day.”
“It’s going to be cool,” said Dixon. “It’s a big jump (in power). I expect to see some pretty big speeds, especially in tows. I’m excited for Fast Friday.”
INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension
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.
“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.
Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship
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.”
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.”
Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio
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.
“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.