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.
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) August 21, 2020
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.
Put yourself on the famed @BorgTrophy!
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) August 22, 2020
- 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.
What makes the #Indy500 so special to you?
Submit your answers using #MessageInAMilkBottle for a chance for yours to be put in our time capsule to be opened at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next year.#INDYCAR // #Indy500 pic.twitter.com/KomCrgVM4j
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) August 21, 2020
- 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.
Josef Newgarden tops first INDYCAR practice as Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is starting INDYCAR Championship weekend off on the right pedal by leading the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session on Friday.
Newgarden’s No. 2 Hitachi Chevy turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 11.4103 seconds (112.824 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course circuit with Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta second-quickest at 1:11:8266 (112.170) in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.
“Yeah, just a tricky session,” noted Newgarden. “There was a lot of people going off, there was a lot of dirt on the track, so it was quite difficult to put it together. So not a very straightforward session. But I think very productive in a lot of ways. It’s not a lot of running, and you’re trying to make the most use of just a couple runs, and I felt like we did that, so I was happy about that.”
Championship-leader Will Power was 7th quickest, 1:11:9858 (111.922) in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy. Power leads Newgarden and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon by 20-points heading into Sunday’s season finale.
“Tough track, man,” said Power. “Very low grip. You get one lap on tires, and they’re gone. It’s hard to get a read because the car changes so much over a run.”
Championship contender Marcus Ericsson was tenth fastest in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:12:0803 (111.775) and trails Power by ??-points in the title fight.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be a high-deg (tire degradation) race, and it seems to be that way,” said Ericsson. “Usually our team and myself from my experience, we’re usually pretty good at that. Yeah, the tires seemed to degrade quite quickly here. It was the same in the test and the same today in practice.”
Last weekend’s winner Scott McLaughlin was next in line with a 1:12:0877 (111.764). McLaughlin has an outside shot at the title as he sits ??-points behind Power.
Dixon, the six-time series Champion, was 17th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda at 1:12:3911 (111.295) despite a team test at the track a few weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a pretty high-deg race, man,” said Dixon, who can tie INDYCAR Legend A.J. Foyt for all-time Championships with a seventh.
Determined drive by Scott Dixon in Portland earns podium and shot at 7th Championship
PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is in the fight for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship after a third place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.
Dixon entered the race in third-place in the Championship fight, 14-points behind Team Penske’s Will Power and 11-points behind Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden. Dixon leaves Portland tied with Newgarden but Power finished ahead of both and now sits 20-points ahead going into the season finale on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.
“Yeah, you know, still in it,” said Dixon. “That’s all that we can hope for.”
Dixon started the race from the 16th position after failing to advance out of the first round of knockout-style qualifying on Saturday. Qualifying has been a bit of an ‘Achilles heel’ for the No. 9 this season.
“We’ve got to work on qualifying and stop making it so difficult on us,” reflected Dixon, who gained more positions (+13) than anyone in the field from the start to finish of the race. “The car was fantastic in Q1 on the box. Didn’t expect too much of a change and thought we would have converted easy and didn’t even make it. We have to stop doing these most improved days, for sure. It’s not that much fun.”
Dixon opened the race on the less-grippy Firestone primary tires while the majority of those starting ahead of him started on the stickier Firestone alternate tires and quickly moved up a couple of spots before being one of the first to come to pit road for his first pit stop on Lap 13.
Dixon’s No. 9 ‘Wolfpack’ crew swapped out the primary tires for the alternate tires, topped the PNC Bank Honda off with fuel and sent the six-time series Champion back out into the fight where he put his foot down and continued to gain positions as various strategies started playing out.
Dixon’s second to last pit-stop saw his crew put on used alternate Firestones, setting him up for new alternate tires for his final pit stop. Dixon was chasing Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi for fifth place when CGR Managing Director and Dixon’s strategist Mike Hull called him to pit road for the last time.
“We had to use a lot of overtake early on, so that definitely changed things up, I think, for the strategy towards the final five there,” said Dixon. “Had a tricky moment with the 10 car coming in front of us in the pit, which kind of screwed us a bit as well, and lost a position that we should have got on Rossi, which was frustrating.”
Dixon’s frustration was short-lived as the caution came out on Lap 84 when Rinus VeeKay misjudged a pass on Dixon’s teammate Jimmie Johnson, pinching the No. 48 Carvana Honda into the wall ending Johnson’s day.
The 4-lap caution period set-up a restart with Scott McLaughlin leading Power, Pato O’Ward, Newgarden, Rossi and Dixon as the green flag dropped. McLaughlin got a great start and Power settled in behind his teammate when O’Ward made an ambitious move trying to pass Power in Turn 1. It didn’t work.
“Yeah, he sent it straight into me,” Power explained. “I left as much room as I could. Inside, inside, and I kept going further, and, bam, he hit me over the curve. I didn’t expect it from Pato, though. He is usually a pretty good racer, pretty smart racer. He was probably needing to win the race to have a shot at the championship, so he probably just went a little bit too far.”
Turn 1 usually produces some memorable highlights at Portland and this restart was no different as right behind the Power/O’Ward tussle, Newgarden and Rossi got together opening the door for Dixon, who didn’t hesitate to take advantage.
“I think when I saw Josef break I was, like, ‘Wow, I’m not sure if he is going to make the corner,'” said Dixon. “He did all that he could to make the corner, but put him at a weird angle, and that, obviously, offset him and Rossi because Rossi had a great run on him out of 12 into turn one. Then, got a great exit.”
Dixon turned hard left, avoided that calamity, and carried the momentum through the turn and set his sights on O’Ward, who was still gaining speed after hitting Power and made a reactionary move to Dixon’s passing attempt, which is a violation of INDYCAR rules.
“I got a run on Pato, and he put a pretty big block on, and a lap later IndyCar called that, and I was able to get past, which thankfully I think the front three, we pulled a ten-second gap on the next pack where we pulled away really quickly,” said Dixon. “It was a great restart. Something that definitely helped us on the points side, and we’ll take what we can.”
Dixon set his sights on Power and was able to get within a second of the No. 12 Chevy but wasn’t able to challenge for the second spot on the podium.
“We did as much as we could today,” said Dixon. “All in all, I think the team did a great job today. Yeah, we’ll see. See what comes next week. I think it’s pretty cool that we don’t need any resets or any chase championships or anything like that. It always comes down to the wire in the INDYCAR Series.”
Ganassi’s Alex Palou won’t repeat as INDYCAR Champion
PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou’s hopes of repeating as NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion is over after Palou was mathematically eliminated after his 12th-place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.
Palou stated the race in the fourth position on Firestone alternate red sidewall tires and ran in the Top 5 through the first stint of the race. Palou however radioed the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants crew during the second stint that something was wrong with the rear of the car. Palou was on the less-grippy, black sidewall Firestone tires.
“Starting fourth, we were running okay in the beginning and then lost a bit of pace,” said Palou. “We’ll check on what went on today and recover next week in Laguna. We still have one race to go, and we will try to win it.”
Palou’s sits 66-points behind championship leader Will Power going into the season finale next Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Palou’s teammates Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson remain in the title fight with Dixon tied for second place, 20-points behind Power and Ericsson 39-points out of the top spot.