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Indy 500 Notebook: Three Andretti’s To Lead Field To Green; O’Ward, Dixon Fastest On Carb Day

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A trio of Andretti’s will lead the field to green at the start of the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 plus Pato O’Ward is the fastest in final practice with Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi right behind.  A longtime Chip Ganassi Racing mechanic is honored and fans can get involved in the 500 digitally in today’s Indy 500 Notebook:

Three Andretti’s To Lead The 500 Field To Green:

  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is about tradition and the Andretti family is a huge part of that tradition.  Mario Andretti, 2nd on the all-time INDYCAR wins list with 52, will be behind the wheel of “Honda’s Fastest Seat In Sports” on Sunday when he paces the field in the unique, two-seat INDYCAR.  Sitting behind the 1969 Indianapolis 500 Winner will be his son Michael Andretti, the man who has 42-career INDYCAR wins, five Indy 500 wins as a team owner and as a driver has led the most laps (431) in the race without a victory. The pair will have pole-sitter Marco Andretti following right behind so for the first time in 500 history three family members will lead the field to the green flag.

O’Ward Fastest On “Carb Day”:

  • Arrow McLaren SP rookie driver Pato O’Ward posted the fastest lap in the final practice before the Indy 500.  O’Ward’s quick time was 225.355 mph in the No. 5 Chevrolet.  Two former Indy 500 winners were right behind the rookie.  Second fastest on what is traditionally known as “Carb Day” was the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda of Scott Dixon, the 2008 500 winner, with a fast lap of 224.646 mph.  Alexander Rossi, the 2016 500 winner, was third quick at 224.599 mph in the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda.  Other notables: 2017 500 winner Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was fourth quick at 224.580.  Sato’s teammates Graham Rahal turned a fast lap of 222.158 mph in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda and Spencer Pigot turned a 221.789 mph in the No. 45 RLL with Citrone Buhl Autosports Hy-Vee/EMBRACE Pittsburgh Honda. Final Practice Speeds

Blair Julian Wins “Clint Brawner Award”: 

  • Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the annual “Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award”, which is named after one of racing’s most successful chief mechanics who won 51 races in the National Championship race series from 1953 through 1969, including the 1969 Indianapolis 500 with Mario Andretti.  This year’s award went to Blair Julian, the long time crew chief on the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda driven by Scott Dixon.
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Digital Fun For Indy 500 Fans:

  • Indianapolis 500 race fans will have plenty of opportunities to show their love of open wheel racing with digital opportunities to be part of the fun from home.  Fans can take part in the “Virtual Fan Mosaic” where fans can have their picture displayed with an image of the Borg-Warner Trophy. The mosaic will be shown on NBC’s broadcast, the IMS big screens and various social media platforms. Submissions may be shared at IMS.com/500InSpirit or using the hashtag #500InSpirit on Twitter and Instagram.

  • NBC is collecting notes from drivers and fans to be included in its “Message in a Milk Bottle” time capsule, which will be opened next May prior to the 105th Running. The 33 drivers have written notes that have been secured in individual milk bottles that will be opened prior to the 2021 Indianapolis 500. The messages focus on the people drivers will race for Sunday and why the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is special to them.  Fan submissions will be put in a giant milk bottle and can be submitted using the hashtag #MessageInAMilkBottle on Twitter.

  • Advance Auto Parts is calling on fans to celebrate DieHard powering most of the “500” field in 1970 — 50 years ago — by submitting videos of themselves doing their best rendition of the iconic “Start Your Engines” command for use on social media and at IMS on Sunday. Enter at www.CallingAllDieHards.com. Entrants will be eligible for a random drawing for 50 winners to receive a $200 gift card good toward the purchase of a DieHard battery or any other items sold by Advance.
  • Indy 500 fans can create and share #Indy500 branded selfies using the new photo wall feature of the IMS Mobile App, available now on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store for Android.
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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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