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Andretti Tops “Fast Friday” At Indy

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Matt Fraver

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.”

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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.

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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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