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Racing Notebook: Mercer and Tri-City Remember Brandon Hawkins; Penske Thanks 500 Fans and more!

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Rick Rarer

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has details on two tracks remembering the late Brandon Hawkins this weekend plus Roger Penske thanks Indy 500 fans, Hendrick teammates honor Jimmie Johnson with their “throwbacks” and the Grand Prix of Portland will continue through 2023.

Mercer Raceway To Honor Hawkins On Saturday:

  • Michael’s Mercer Raceway is planning on honoring the late Brandon Hawkins on Saturday night with the $2727 to win, $227 to start “Big Mav Classic”.  Hawkins tragically lost his life at age 26 on July 20 at a construction accident.  Hawkins is survived by his son Maverick, his parents Dave and Chrissy and his girlfriend Ashley.  Hawkins 27H car will be driven by Kyle Colwell and start 27th.  Every car that finishes behind the 27H will donate and extra $50 to start the race back to Maverick Hawkins.  For more information visit www.mercerracewaypark.com.

Tri-City and RUSH Sprints To Honor Hawkins On Sunday:

  • Tri-City Raceway Park and the RUSH Sprint Car Series will pay tribute Hawkins, a former Micro Sprint standout, moved to the RUSH Sprint Cars when the class debuted in 2018 along with his brother Scott and father Dave. The trio also competed together in 2019 as well before Brandon made the move to the “305” Sprints where he won his first feature on July 17 at Bedford Speedway, just days before his passing. Jeremy Weaver leads the Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series points by 31 over Zach Morrow.  For more information visit www.tricityracewaypark.com.

Roger Penske Pens Letter To Indy 500 Fans:

  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NTT INDYCAR SERIES owner Roger Penske, who bought the speedway and series earlier this year, wrote a letter to Indy 500 season ticket holder and race fans who usually attend “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing” but will be unable to in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions:
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Hendrick Teammates Honor Jimmie Johnson With “Throwbacks”:

  • The Hendrick Motorsports cars of Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and William Byron will honor teammate Jimmie Johnson with their “throwback” paint schemes at Darlington Raceway.  Johnson is retiring from full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition after the 2020 season.  Johnson has expressed an interest in running the NTT INDYCAR SERIES road and street courses in 2021.

City of Portland Extends G.P. Agreement:

  • The City of Portland and Green Savoree Portland LLC have reached an agreement on a three-year extension for the Grand Prix of Portland.  The event was cancelled this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Oregon’s statewide restrictions n public gatherings.  The new agreement extends the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway through at least 2023.  For tickets and information visit www.portlandgp.com.

IndyCar

Racing Notebook: DHL partners with Ganassi; Hunt Bros partners with Penske and more

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(Pittsburgh, PA) – 2024 partnership programs a coming together as two of the biggest names in racing, Ganassi and Penske, each announce new deals plus PPMS announces their plans for the new year and Henessey Performance packs some punch for GM fans in today’s Racing Notebook.

DHL Partners with Ganassi and Palou

  • DHL and Chip Ganassi Racing are teaming up for a new partnership.  DHL becomes the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and two-time NTT IndyCar Champion Alex Palou.  DHL express also becomes the Official Logistics Partner of the 15-time Championship team. “I am extremely proud to welcome DHL to the Chip Ganassi Racing family,” said Chip Ganassi. “It is an honor to partner with an organization that shares our fundamental values of teamwork, growth, responsibility, and the pursuit of excellence.”
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Hunt Brothers Pizza Partners with Penske, Logano, Blaney

  • Team Penske and Hunt Brothers Pizza are teaming up in multi-year deal that will feature the convenience store pizza brand on the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang driven by two-time NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) Champion Joey Logano for select races beginning in 2024. Hunt Brothers Pizza will also be an associate sponsor on defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 Ford Mustang for the 2024 season.

PPMS Announces 2024 Schedule

  • Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway is planning a 29-race schedule for 2024 with an opening day St. Patrick’s Day Weekend.  The highlight of the schedule is the expansion of the Pittsburgher weekend to a 2-day event for the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series battling for almost $200,000!
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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Rosenqvist earns INDYCAR Pole; Dixon starts 2nd; Hocevar, Smith earn NASCAR victories

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FORT WORTH, TX – (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES gets back on track Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway with Arrow McLaren and Chip Ganassi Racing leading the field to green.  In NASCAR, Carson Hocevar and Chandler Smith each earned victories on Saturday and Alex Bowman will lead the Cup field to green on Sunday.

Felix Rosenqvist wins INDYCAR Texas Pole:

  • Arrow McLaren Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES PPG 375. Rosenqvist’s 2-lap average of 220.264 mph was slower than the 221.110 mph he posted in 2021.  The pole is the second consecutive for Rosenqvist at the 1.5-mile oval. “I think we just built on last year,” said Rosenqvist. “Maybe it was a good thing to start early. The track kind of warmed up. We’ll take it. We’ve always been good here, but this is a whole different confidence level compared to last year. Let’s try to wrap it up tomorrow.” The 250-lap race starts at Noon (ET) Sunday with live coverage on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Dixon Puts PNC Bank Honda on front row:

  • PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon will start on the outside of the front row for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway.  Dixon’s 2-lap average around the 1.5-mile oval of 219.972-mph was 0.292-mph behind pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist. Dixon, a 6-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion has five career victories at Texas, including wins in four of the last nine races.  Dixon’s CGR teammates Takuma Sato and Alex Palou will start 6th and 7th respectively.  CGR’s Marcus Ericsson will roll off 16th in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda.
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Carson Hocevar Wins NASCAR Truck Race at Texas:

  • Carson Hocevar avoided a crash on the white flag lap to power to the win in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.  Hocevar made contact with the back of the truck of Nick Sanchez, as Sanchez was recovering from door-to-door contact with Zane Smith.  Sanchez spun and collected Smith as Hocevar avoided the mayhem to take the double-overtime victory.  The win was Hocevar’s first career win. “I didn’t mean to get into him, I just meant to give him a push and he got sideways the second I hit him, I apologize to them, I’ll take the fall for it.”

Chandler Smith takes NASCAR Xfinity win at Richmond:

  • Rookie Chandler Smith earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday afternoon at Richmond (Va.) Raceway holding off John Hunter Nemechek on a final race restart to win the ToyotaCare 250.  Smith’s margin of victory was .298-seconds.  Smith’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet led a race best 83 of the 250 laps.

Alex Bowman on NASCAR Cup Series Pole at Richmond:

  • Current NASCAR Cup Series championship leader Alex Bowman will start Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) from pole position in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with Kyle Busch completing the front row in the No. 8 Richard Childress Chevy after NASCAR’s Cup Series practice and qualifying sessions were cancelled Saturday morning at Richmond (Va.) Raceway because of poor weather.
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Racing Notebook

Racing Notebook: MSR Penalized; Taylor to sub for Elliott and more

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IMSA

(Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The latest edition of the Racing Notebook details Meyer Shank Racing’s post-Rolex 24 penalty plus Jordan Taylor to take the wheel of a Hendrick Chevy; two F1 veteran in Cup race at COTA and more:

Meyer Shank Penalized by IMSA:

  • Meyer Shank Racing is $50,000 lighter in the pocketbook after being penalized by IMSA for infractions discovered after the team won the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.  IMSA became aware of the manipulation of tire pressure data from the No. 60 car to IMSA as the monitoring point for the minimum tire pressure regulation.  In addition to the $50k fine the team and drivers lost lost 200-Championship points, lost all Michelin Endurance Cup points, lost race prize money, and team owner Mike Shank placed on probation through June 30, 2023 and team engineer Ryan McCarthy was placed on indefinite suspension.
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Jordan Taylor to sub for Chase Elliott at COTA:

  • Jordan Taylor will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend as the NASCAR Cup Series hits the road course at Circuit of the Americas.  Taylor, a three-time Champion in IMSA’s DPi and GT classes, has been working with Hendrick’s Garage 56 program for the 24-Hours of Le Mans.  Elliott, the 2020 Cup Series Champion, is expected to miss approximately six-weeks after suffering a broken leg snowboarding before this past weekend’s event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Jensen Button to make Cup debut at COTA:

  • 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jensen Button will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at Circuit of the Americas driving the No. 15 Mobil 1 Ford for Rick Ware Racing.  This marks the first of three Cup Series starts in 2023 for Button, who will also compete at inaugural Chicago street race and the road course race at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Button has been testing Hendrick’s Garage 56 Camaro at Sebring, Daytona and COTA.  Kimi Raikonnen will also be in the field as he returns to Trackhouse Racing for the COTA event.

54 entries for 12-Hours of Sebring:

  • 54-cars are on the preliminary entry list for the 12-Hours of Sebring.  Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 2 Cadillac is not in the 12-Hour field as that car begins its World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the 1000-miles of Sebring the day before the 12-Hour. IMSA has also adjusted the Balance of Performance for GTD following the Rolex 24. All the cars have gained weight from the 1030kg minimum used at Daytona, with the Acura ARX-06 gaining the most at 1054kg, and Cadillac the least at 1038kg. BMW is at 1040, while Porsche is at 1048.  Qualifying for the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship takes place Friday, March 17 at 9 a.m. with the green flag dropping Saturday at 10 a.m.
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