SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Third generation driver Marco Andretti topped the speed charts during “Fast Friday” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Andretti led the final practice before Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a fast lap of 233.491 mph in the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Andretti Autosport Honda.
“Fast Friday was good, especially with the top speed of the day,” said Andretti. “We seem to be looking good on no-tow speeds, as well. But we just need to nail tomorrow, and the No. 98 car has enough speed for the Fast Nine.”
Andretti’s fast lap was the fastest speed since Arie Luyendyk ripped off the fastest practice lap in Indy 500 history, 239.260, on May 10, 1996.
Second-generation driver Conor Daly was second fastest today at 232.337 in the No. 47 United States Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
“Results-wise, today looks great,” said Daly. “We’ve had a really consistent week up front in the top 10, which is nice.”
NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, fastest Thursday, was third at 232.290 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“I hope things keep going in this direction,” said Dixon, a five-time series Champion. “The PNC Bank car is good right now, and we’re trying to get some more balance, so that’s kind of where we’re at. We were second or third most the day on the no-tow speed report for outright speed, so we hope that ends up holding true.”
2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was fourth at 232.124 in the No. 28 DHL Honda, the best lap of the day without an aerodynamic tow, which he set early in the session.
“The 28 DHL car was really hooked up this morning,” said Hunter-Reay. “Unfortunately, two different racetracks from a.m. and p.m. I think the car has speed in it, but just lacked a little bit of balance later in the day.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Citrone/Buhl’s Spencer Pigot rounded out the top five at 232.116 in the No. 45 Hy-Vee/Embrace Pittsburgh Honda.
“We had a pretty good day and ended up fifth overall,” said Pigot. “I think we were around the top nine in the no-tow list. Overall, it was a solid day; we made some good gains in the Hy-Vee / Embrace Pittsburgh car.”
The first day of qualifying takes place from 11 a.m.-4:50 p.m. (ET) Saturday. The nine fastest cars will earn a berth in the Fast Nine Shootout from 1:15-2:15 p.m. Sunday, which will determine the pole winner and the starting grid for the first three rows of the race Sunday, Aug. 23.
NBC will air qualifying from 3-5 p.m. Saturday. NBC’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES streaming platform, INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, will cover qualifying from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
The Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network will air broadcasts of all track activity this weekend.
Qualifying coverage starts from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3:30-5 p.m. Saturday on national affiliates, SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT DATA. Fast Nine Shootout coverage will air from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Sunday.
More Saturday qualifying coverage from the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network will be available from 1-3:30 p.m. on indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App. Practice coverage on indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App will be available from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Saturday, 11-11:30 a.m. Sunday and 3:30-6 p.m. Sunday.
Tony Kanaan Returning To Chip Ganassi Racing To Run Oval Races
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – One of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES most popular drivers is returning to one of the Series most popular and successful teams.
2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan is returning to Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 48 Honda for the four oval races on the schedule, complementing the 13 road and street course events being contested by seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson.
Kanaan drove for CGR from 2014-2017, where he worked alongside six-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion and Indianapolis 500 Winner Scott Dixon. In 2021 Kanaan will team with Dixon again as well as Johnson, Marcus Ericsson, driver of the No. 8 Honda, and CGR newcomer Alex Palou, driver of the No. 10 Honda, forming one of the most formidable team combinations in the paddock.
“As the Indy car driver market trends younger and younger, experience is something that cannot be taught – especially at the Indianapolis 500,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “There is no one more experienced in the paddock than Tony, and when we needed the right fit for rounding out our oval program, it was clear he was the right choice. Tony also knows our team, he knows our system and he knows our drivers. We expect the combination of him and Jimmie to give us the one-two punch we’re looking for in the No. 48.”
“It’s hard to express in words how excited I am about this announcement,” said Kanaan. “When Chip and I first started to talk about the opportunity to drive the ovals and share the No. 48 with Jimmie Johnson I couldn’t imagine that we would reach an agreement this fast. Chip Ganassi Racing is at the pinnacle of motorsports in North America and being able to be part of the program once again with such great drivers in their lineup is a dream come true.”
The No. 48 will be sponsored by longtime CGR and Kanaan partner NTT DATA along with Bryant, also a longtime sponsor of Kanaan and former sponsor of CGR. The companies will both have primary paint schemes as well as associate-level relationships on the No. 48 Honda and other CGR entries that will be announced at a later date.
NTT DATA began its relationship with CGR in 2013 at the Indianapolis 500 partnering on the No. 8 NTT DATA entry. Kanaan first competed with CGR in 2013 in an NTT DATA-backed Daytona Prototype fielded in the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he drove to a second-place finish. NTT DATA maintained an associate partnership with CGR on the No. 83 INDYCAR, became a primary partner on the No. 8 entry for the 2014 season, and then on the No. 10 entry in 2015 and has been on that car ever since. NTT DATA is also the official IT services partner of CGR.
“We are thrilled to welcome back Tony to Chip Ganassi Racing and for NTT DATA to have the opportunity to reunite with him,” said Dave Croxville, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, NTT DATA Services. “Tony has been an outstanding ambassador for NTT DATA over the years and remains an integral part of our company’s legacy in the sport, including driving the NTT DATA car at Ganassi. All NTT DATA Racing fans will look forward to having one of the sport’s most popular drivers represent us again.”
Bryant has a rich tradition in auto racing and is the longest-standing non-automotive sponsor at the Indianapolis 500. Legends like Eddie Sachs, Roger Ward, Cale Yarborough, Scott Brayton, Chip Ganassi, Stan Fox and Janet Guthrie have all driven under the Bryant Racing banner, earning a total of 16 previous race victories on other tracks. The 2021 season will mark the 14th of 15 NTT INDYCAR SERIES seasons during which Bryant has worked with Kanaan.
“We’re excited to extend our relationship with Tony for the 2021 season,” said Justin Keppy, President, North America Residential & Light Commercial, Bryant . Bryant has been a long-time supporter of Tony, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and the Indianapolis 500 and we’re pleased that it will continue. Tony embodies all of the qualities that the Bryant brand stands for, including our mantra of always doing Whatever it Takes® in order to get the job done. Our racing sponsorship is something that our distributors and dealers really enjoy and we’re looking forward to sharing it with them next year.”
“I’ve also been very fortunate to enjoy great relationships with my sponsors throughout my career and having companies like Bryant and NTT DATA supporting me once again is a testament to that,” said Kanaan. “Both Bryant and NTT DATA have been with me through different teams, wins and even life events. Being able to continue to represent these companies is truly an honor.”
“We are very familiar with NTT DATA and Bryant over the years and are excited to have both companies back with this program,” added Ganassi.
In 23 seasons of INDYCAR racing, Kanaan has 383 starts, 17 wins, 15 poles, 78 podiums and over 4,000 laps led. He began his career in 1998 and was the 2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion. He remains the all-time leader in consecutive starts with 318 consecutive INDYCAR starts, having started every race since Portland in 2001 through the first race of the 2020 season in Texas. Kanaan has been a fan favorite for decades in the series and always maintains one of the largest followings on social media in the series.
The green flag drops on the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES on March 7, 2021 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The first oval race on the schedule is the doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway on May 1 & 2, 2021.
Alex Palou Joining Chip Ganassi Racing For 2021 INDYCAR Season
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t waste any time filling the vacancy in the No. 10 Honda as 23-year-old Spaniard Alex Palou is joining the team for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
“To say I’m thrilled or excited to be making this step in my career would be an understatement,” said Palou. “Driving for Chip Ganassi is just a dream come true. I’ve followed the team for as long as I can remember, and it’s the kind of team and owner any driver would want to race for.”
Palou just completed his first season in INDYCAR where he scored his first-career podium at Road American en route to a 16th place result in the championship standings driving for Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh.
“I love to watch the growth of young drivers,” said Mike Hull, CGR’s Managing Director. “This year racing Indy cars has been very difficult for young drivers like Alex who hadn’t had the opportunity to visually see the tracks in advance, nor have days of practice in private team testing, or open testing or three-day weekends. Putting that into perspective, he did a heck of a job. We had an opening, and he became available, and Chip has a great eye for talent. Alex has that spark, that intangible thing you combine with talent that is a lot of fun. It’s a great exploration thing, actually. You’re exploring how far you can go, and he has one year of experience with a quality team, quality engineering and a quality teammate. He stood up to that test extremely well.”
Palou is excited to get started with the 13-time Championship team and their stable of drivers with 6-time INDYCAR Champion Scott Dixon, 7-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson and re-signed driver Marcus Ericsson.
“Scott has had another tremendous season, reaching 50 wins and a sixth title, so you absolutely couldn’t ask for anything more in a teammate,” said Palou. “I can’t wait to work with Marcus and Jimmie as well, and to start contributing to the team and getting to spend more time with everyone.”
Prior to joining INDYCAR, Palou won a Super Formula Championship race in 2019, competed at the All-Japan Formula 3 championship in 2017, recorded his first race in the Formula 3 Series in 2015, and made his debut in open-wheel racing competing in the Euroformula Open Championship in 2014.
Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond.
Marcus Ericsson And Chip Ganassi Racing Agree To Multi-Year Deal
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.
“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.