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Andretti Autosport Atop Speed Charts After Day 1 Of Qualifying At Indy

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Walt Kuhn

SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Andretti Autosport swept the first four spots of Indy 500 qualifying Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Marco Andretti posted the fastest 4-lap average of 231.351 mph in the No. 98 U.S. Concrete Honda.  Andretti did it later than his teammates as he drew the 28th qualifying attempt.

2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was second quickest with a 4-lap average of 231.330 mph in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi was third fastest in the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda at 231.268 mph.

James Hinchcliffe, who is running a partial schedule in the No. 29 Genesys Honda, was fourth at 231.195.

PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner and series points leader, spoiled the Andretti party posting the fifth fastest average 231.155 mph.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus Veekay was sixth fastest at 231.114 mph.

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“Great run this morning, very happy with that,” said Veekay.  “I’m happy!”

Rookie Alex Palou of Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh was seventh fastest at 213.034 mph.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) teammates Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato, the 2017 500 winner, rounded out positions eight and nine with speeds of 230.822 mph and 230.792 respectively.

Positions one through nine will come back on Sunday to fight it out for the pole position in the “Fast Nine Shootout”, which will set the lineup for the first three rows.

“We can play tomorrow, that’s the fun part,” said Andretti.  “We’re going to be playing with three of our teammates, Dixon, a few other guys.  Tomorrow’s going to definitely be a different day, so we’ve already been thinking about that, and it’s going to be a 10-to-15-mile-an-hour wind which makes it hard when you’re at these downforce levels.”

Positions 10 through 33 (rows 4 through 11) won’t have that chance as the speeds they set on Saturday will determine their starting position.

Just missing out on the fast nine were Andretti’s Colton Herta in tenth (230.775), Ganassi’s Marcus Ericsson in eleventh (230.566) and RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport’s Spencer Pigot in twelfth (230.539).

One team you will not see fighting for the pole on Sunday is Team Penske.  Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion will start 13th (230.296). Will Power, the 2018 Indy 500 winner, will start 22nd. 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud will start 25th and three-time 500 winner (2001, 2002, 2009) Helio Castroneves will roll off 28th.

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GMC Hummer EV Partners With Chip Ganassi Racing’s Extreme E Entry

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Chip Ganassi Racing Extreme E

LONDON, ENGLAND (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – GMC is partnering with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) on the team’s Extreme E program, which makes its debut in April.

CGR’s 550-horsepower electric SUV, which features a unique grille, graphics and bodywork, was inspired by the GMC HUMMER EV, the world’s first all-electric supertruck.

“I can’t think of a better fit than showcasing the look of GMC’s HUMMER EV in Extreme E with Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Jim Campbell, General Motors U.S. vice president, Performance and Motorsports. “Both GMC HUMMER EV and the Extreme E series are designed to be revolutionary – to challenge perceptions of electric vehicles and to showcase their true capability.”

“It’s truly an honor to represent GMC, especially during such an exciting time in auto racing,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The new GMC HUMMER EV is going to be a game changer in terms of how the world views off-road EV capability, and we couldn’t be more proud to represent GMC in such an innovative new series.”

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Sara Price and Kyle LeDuc are CGR’s pair of drivers in the series, which will highlight the impact of climate change and human activity in some of the world’s most remote locations while promoting sustainability and the adoption of electric vehicles to help protect the planet.

“We feel very proud to welcome GMC and its iconic GMC HUMMER EV to the Extreme E family, as it joins forces with our Chip Ganassi Racing team,” said Alejandro Agag, founder and CEO of Extreme E. “Not only will Extreme E be a thrilling motorsport, it will also showcase the performance and benefits of electric vehicles.”

Extreme E 2021 Calendar:

Desert X Prix: AlUla, Saudi Arabia: April 3-4, 2021
Ocean X Prix: Lac Rose, Senegal: May 29-30, 2021
Arctic X Prix: Kangerlussuaq, Greenland: August 28-29, 2021
Amazon X Prix: Para, Brazil: October 23-24, 2021
Glacier X Prix: Patagonia, Argentina: December 11-12, 2021

Reservations are being accepted for select trims of GMC’s new supertruck, the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV, which will launch with initial production this fall. The HUMMER EV will be a fully electric addition to GMC’s portfolio powered by General Motors’ new Ultium battery system. The HUMMER EV Edition One will offer a three-motor e4WD propulsion system with GM-estimated best-in-class 1,000 horsepower and a GM-estimated 11,500 lb-ft of torque.

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PPG To Sponsor Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin And Austin Cindric

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Joe Skibinski

MOORESVILLE, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pittsburgh headquartered PPG Industries is expanding their partnership with Team Penske.

PPG – a global manufacturer of paints, coatings, and specialty materials – will be featured as the primary sponsor on the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet driven by Scott McLaughlin for 10 races during the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.

“PPG is a global, industry-leading brand that has been a terrific partner with Team Penske for more than three decades,” said team owner Roger Penske. “Our relationship with PPG has continued to grow and reach across all areas of our business. We are excited about the newest racing opportunity in our partnership as PPG teams up with the No. 3 team and Scott for his first full season competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.”

“The relationship with Team Penske has been extremely successful for PPG, both on and off the track,” said Bill Shaw, PPG director, strategic accounts, automotive refinish. “We are excited to add another chapter to our history with Scott McLaughlin and the No. 3 PPG Dallara/Chevrolet team. Scott has proven himself to be one of the most talented racecar drivers in the world, and we know success in his new opportunity with the team is just around the corner. PPG is excited to be a part of that.”

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McLaughlin made his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut when he raced for Team Penske in the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The 27-year-old native of Christchurch, New Zealand, will embark on a new challenge this season as he transitions to open-wheel racing with a full-season INDYCAR program following an incredibly successful four-year run with the DJR Team Penske Supercars program, helping secure three team championships and winning the driver’s title in each of the last three seasons.

“It is surreal to think my first full season in the INDYCAR SERIES is almost here,” said McLaughlin. “I am truly living out my dreams and to have PPG on board as our primary partner is amazing. I watched the beautiful blue and white PPG cars compete over the last few years, and they look amazing on track. It is going to be an honor to represent PPG in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet this season.”

In addition to the partnership with McLaughlin and the No. 3 team in 2021, PPG will also continue to serve as a sponsor for Team Penske’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program with 2020 series champion Austin Cindric. Cindric will pilot the No. 22 PPG Ford Mustang in races this season at the Daytona Road Course, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Mid-Ohio and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Locally, PPG is the naming rights holder for the Penguins PPG Paints Arena and this year the PPG logo is on the helmets of Penguins players.

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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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