INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Takuma Sato won his second Indianapolis 500 on Sunday becoming just the 20th driver to capture “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” at least twice.
Sato was out front with PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in second place with 5-laps to go when the caution flag flew for Spencer Pigot, who lost control of the No. 45 Hy-Vee/EMBRACE Pittsburgh Honda coming off turn four and hit the outside wall and then as he came down the track the car slammed hard into the crash attenuator at the beginning of the wall separating pit road from the front stretch. Pigot was taken to Methodist Hospital for evaluation and released.
“This was the entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan team,” Sato said on the Victory Podium. “HPD and Honda gave us a lot of power, a lot fuel mileage. And my boys … they sacrifice a lot. I can’t thank all of the people (enough).”
Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner and five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion, led a race-high 111 laps. It was the third career Indy 500 runner-up finish for Dixon, who didn’t think Sato could make it to the finish without a caution.
“This is a hard one to swallow,” said Dixon, who jumped from ninth to third on the all-time Indianapolis 500 lap leaders list with 563 career laps led, behind only Al Unser (644) and Ralph DePalma (612). “On fuel mileage, I really can’t see how they were going to make it. We pitted a lap later, and the numbers they had to get, it was going to be very difficult.”
“The fuel strategy was a bit tight,” said Sato. “I saw Scott was coming right through out of Turn 4, and he was screaming coming at me. And I just held him off.”
Graham Rahal helped RLLR to take two of the top three spots by finishing third in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda.
“It was a great day for our team, the entire organization and all of our partners,” said Rahal. “Congrats to Takuma for a heck of a drive, I’m proud of you and thankful for what you have done for our program and all of our partners. I thought we had a run at it but just got too loose the last stint. For us to come home P1 and P3 today means the world to me. Solid day all around. Hell of a job by RLL.”
Santino Ferrucci led a Honda sweep of the top four finishing positions by placing fourth in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda.
“Just an incredible race,” said Ferrucci. “The SealMaster Honda was insane today. We started 19th and finished fourth. The guys worked really hard on pit lane, on the timing stand, and the strategy was perfect. I’m just really happy.”
Two-time and reigning series champion Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five and was the top Chevrolet-powered finisher in the No. 1 Shell V-Power Nitro Team Penske Chevrolet.
INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NBC Network announced on Tuesday a multi-year extension to the media rights of the open wheel series.
NBC Sports will continue to be the exclusive home of the Indianapolis 500 and will provide coverage of all NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, qualifying, practices and Indy Lights races across its linear, digital and streaming platforms, including Peacock. Terms of the deal were not announced.
“NBC Sports is proud to extend its partnership with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and continue to serve as the exclusive home of the most competitive open-wheel racing series in the world and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Jon Miller, NBC Sports.
“NBC Sports has been the ideal partner for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, bringing our bold and audacious style of racing to a significantly larger domestic audience and fully leveraging the power and scale of the Indianapolis 500,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “This new deal represents a significant expansion of our network TV exposure and sets us up for continued growth and success alongside a committed, innovative and world-class broadcast partner.”
INDYCAR and NBC are enjoying strong ratings for the 2021. Ratings are up 30% this year.
As part of the agreement, 13 races will be broadcast on NBC. USA Network and Peacock Premium will show the remaining races. Telemundo Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage of the season-opening race, the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale.
Peacock will stream all races on NBC and USA Network and will continue as the streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying and practices sessions, Indy Lights races and full-event replays. Peacock will stream two races exclusively, which will be announced at a later date.
Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship
NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott joined the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) for their season finale at Nashville Fairgrounds and took home the checkered flag beating Tony Stewart and his father Bill Elliott in the feature. The win was the first series victory for the younger Elliott.
Chase Elliott was on the inside with Stewart on the outside on a restart with 7-laps-to-go followed by Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte in Row 2.
Chase Elliott beat Stewart into turn one and two with Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte side-by-side for third.
Caution came out with 5-laps-to-go when Paul Tracy made contact with Marco Andretti, sending Andretti into a spin after picking up three spots following the restart.
Chase Elliott got the jump on Stewart on the restart and held on to pick up the win. Stewart finished second and took home the inaugural series Championship.
“Man it was so much fun,” said Chase Elliott. “I had a ball. I got to race against two of my heroes tonight and I got to race against Dad there throughout the race and those are moments that I’ll cherish forever. Thanks to Ray (Evernham, Series co-owner) and Tony (Stewart, Series co-owner) and I appreciate NAPA being on the car.”
NASCAR Hall-of-famer Bill Elliott, 65, finished third and picked up a win in the first heat race where he started side-by-side with his son Chase.
“I messed up in one not getting all the stuff (marbles) off my tires,” said Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup Series Champion. “Man I tell you it was a lot of fun. I knew the way the tires were on these cars and the way Chase manages his stuff he was going to be tough to beat.”
“I don’t know what lit a fire under him tonight,” said Chase Elliott. “But he was as aggressive as I have seen him in years. It was amazing and a lot of fun. I thought it was going to be between he and I but he got a little high going into (turn) one.”
The win was also special for the Elliott Family as they were able to park the No. 94 in Victory Lane. Casey Elliott, the late son of legendary engine builder Ernie Elliott, raced the No. 94 in the ARCA and Busch (now Xfinity) Series before his life was cut short by cancer.
“Obviously a special number too,” said Chase Elliott. “My late Cousin Casey Elliott ran the 94 for years and years and it’s always special to run that number and I’m glad we were able to get it in Victory Lane at Nashville.”
“How could you ask for more than to finish between two Elliott’s, that’s pretty bad-ass in itself,” said Stewart. “To win this Championship is awesome. I really appreciate Marcus Lemonis and everyone at Camping World for stepping up and helping us get this thing off the ground. To be the last guy to win an IROC Championship and the first one to win an SRX Championship means a lot.”
Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden picked up his, and Team Penske’s, first win of 2021 holding off Marcus Ericsson to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Newgarden started on the pole position and led 73-of-80-laps to pick up his first win since the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“This team has been doing the job,” said Newgarden. “Everyone has been giving me a hard time, asking what’s up with us not winning a race. But I don’t think these people at Team Penske could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race, had great performance. It’s great to seal a win here finally.”
Newgarden spoiled a tremendous afternoon for Chip Ganassi Racing, the winningest INDYCAR team at Mid-Ohio.
CGR’s Ericsson finished second, 0.8790-seconds behind Newgarden. The second place finish was Ericsson’s seventh top-10 finish of 2021.
“We were hunting him down there,” said Ericsson. “He (Newgarden) was really struggling with his tires the last five laps. Just catching him quickly. Another lap or two would be even better, but I’ll take second today.”
Ericsson’s CGR teammate Alex Palou and Scott Dixon finished third and fourth respectively to give Chip Ganassi three cars in the top 5.
“It’s always good to start P7 and you finish on the podium,” said Palou. “Yeah, I think today was a good result.”
“I think it was a great day, great day for the team, to have me, Alex and Scott, P2, P3 and P4,” said Ericsson. “It’s a strong result. Shows how strong we are at the moment”
Palou remains the Championship points leader, 39 points ahead of Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP. Dixon is third, 56 points behind Palou. Newgarden remained fourth, 69 points back of the leader, and Ericsson jumped three positions to take fifth in the standings, 104 points behind Palou.