INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is getting ready for the 2021 season as they work towards crowning a 2020 Champion.
INDYCAR announced on Thursday a 17-race schedule for 2021 that features several traditional venues for the open wheel series along with a new street race that was announced two weeks ago and expanded network TV coverage.
The 2021 season will open Sunday, March 7 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. 2021 will mark the 10th consecutive year that the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will launch the start of a new season. The event will be the first of nine races on NBC Network Television.
“We’re really pleased that the current plans provide for one additional race on NBC’s network than we had this year,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “The season will start with NBC coverage of the St. Petersburg event, a spectacular start for those in attendance and for those watching from home.”
“We’re looking forward to providing increased exposure to the series in 2021, including network coverage of the season opener in St. Pete and the finale in Laguna Seca,” said Michael Perman, Vice President, Programming, NBC Sports.
Two races highlight INDYCAR’s April schedule with Barber Motorsports Park (April 11) and the historic race on the street of Long Beach, California and the Long Beach Grand Prix (April 18), which will also be on NBC network TV.
The month of May kicks off with a new doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway (May 1 & 2). The Texas races are key because it places oval races on the schedule before the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30th.
“The changes in Texas are important and exciting,” said Miles. “To have not just one oval race, but two, before racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is strategically very important to the growth of the event.”
“A marquee event of our Championship Season, we’ll also provide wall-to-wall coverage of the Indy 500 on NBC, an international sporting spectacle filled with speed and exceptional drama,” said Perman.
Prior to the Indy 500 the series will take the road course at ‘The Brickyard’ on May 15th.
The ‘Dual in Detroit’ starts off the series June schedule with two races at Belle Isle Park (June 12 & 13) followed by a visit to scenic Road America (June 20).
A holiday weekend at The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 4) kicks off two stops for the series in July. INDYCAR will head North of the border for a return to the streets of Toronto (July 11).
The month of August will feature consecutive races on a street course, road course and an oval, highlighting the athleticism required to win an INDYCAR title. The Music City Grand Prix on the streets of Nashville will kick off the month (August 8) followed by an INDYCAR/NASCAR doubleheader weekend on the road course at Indy (August 14) and a return to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (August 21).
The Championship stretch run in September takes place on two permanent road courses: Portland International Raceway is the first stop on September 12 and the Championship finale will be at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 19.
2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE:
- March 7 – Streets of St. Petersburg
- April 11 – Barber Motorsports Park
- April 18 – Streets of Long Beach
- May 1 – Texas Motor Speedway Race 1
- May 2 – Texas Motor Speedway Race 2
- May 15 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)
- May 30 – The 105th Indianapolis 500
- June 12 – Raceway at Belle Isle Race 1
- June 13 – Raceway at Belle Isle Race 2
- June 20 – Road America
- July 4 – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
- July 11 – Streets of Toronto
- August 8 – Streets of Nashville
- August 14 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course)
- August 21 – World Wide Technology Raceway
- September 12 – Portland International Raceway
- September 19 – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
Alex Palou Joining Chip Ganassi Racing For 2021 INDYCAR Season
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t waste any time filling the vacancy in the No. 10 Honda as 23-year-old Spaniard Alex Palou is joining the team for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
“To say I’m thrilled or excited to be making this step in my career would be an understatement,” said Palou. “Driving for Chip Ganassi is just a dream come true. I’ve followed the team for as long as I can remember, and it’s the kind of team and owner any driver would want to race for.”
Palou just completed his first season in INDYCAR where he scored his first-career podium at Road American en route to a 16th place result in the championship standings driving for Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh.
“I love to watch the growth of young drivers,” said Mike Hull, CGR’s Managing Director. “This year racing Indy cars has been very difficult for young drivers like Alex who hadn’t had the opportunity to visually see the tracks in advance, nor have days of practice in private team testing, or open testing or three-day weekends. Putting that into perspective, he did a heck of a job. We had an opening, and he became available, and Chip has a great eye for talent. Alex has that spark, that intangible thing you combine with talent that is a lot of fun. It’s a great exploration thing, actually. You’re exploring how far you can go, and he has one year of experience with a quality team, quality engineering and a quality teammate. He stood up to that test extremely well.”
Palou is excited to get started with the 13-time Championship team and their stable of drivers with 6-time INDYCAR Champion Scott Dixon, 7-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson and re-signed driver Marcus Ericsson.
“Scott has had another tremendous season, reaching 50 wins and a sixth title, so you absolutely couldn’t ask for anything more in a teammate,” said Palou. “I can’t wait to work with Marcus and Jimmie as well, and to start contributing to the team and getting to spend more time with everyone.”
Prior to joining INDYCAR, Palou won a Super Formula Championship race in 2019, competed at the All-Japan Formula 3 championship in 2017, recorded his first race in the Formula 3 Series in 2015, and made his debut in open-wheel racing competing in the Euroformula Open Championship in 2014.
Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond.
Marcus Ericsson And Chip Ganassi Racing Agree To Multi-Year Deal
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Marcus Ericsson will continue to drive Chip Ganassi’s No. 8 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES after agreeing to a multi-year deal.
Ericsson, 30, joined the team in 2020 after competing for Schmidt Petersen Motorsports for his inaugural INDYCAR season in 2019.
“I’m very happy to continue my relationship with Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda and HPD into 2021 and beyond,” said Ericsson. “I want to thank Chip and the whole CGR organization for their trust in me. Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the best teams in motorsports and I’m proud to be part of the team. The season we’ve just finished has been full of potential and I feel confident that with what we’ve learned together this year will help us succeed in 2021. I’m looking forward to getting back in the No. 8 Honda!”
This past season Ericsson posted nine top-10 finished in 14-races with a season-best fourth-place finish as Road America. Ericsson finished 12th in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings.
“Marcus proved that he belongs here, and this season he contributed to the success of our team greatly,” said Mike Hull, CGR’s Managing Director. “That includes being unselfish to his teammates, especially with Scott Dixon who won the INDYCAR championship. He’s a great foundational piece of our overall program and he fits well within our group. That translates into success on the track, and we’re glad to have him continue to grow and move the team toward into the future.”
Ericsson may only have two years of INDYCAR experience but he has an extensive racing resume including 97-starts in Formula 1. The Kumla, Sweden native is a two-time champion (Formula BMW UK, 2007; Japanese Formula Three, 2009), and has twice claimed the Swedish Junior Racer of the Year award (2007, 2009). Ericsson also previously competed in British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2.
Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond. Huski Chocolate partnered with the team in 2020.
The Ericsson deal combined with the addition of Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Carvana Honda and the return of Scott Dixon in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda leaves the No. 10 NTT Data Honda as the only remaining question mark for CGR heading into the 2021 season.
Scott Dixon Wins 6th INDYCAR Championship & Chip Ganassi Racing Wins Their 13th
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon wasn’t even born when INDYCAR legend A.J. Foyt won his sixth Championship in 1975, but Sunday Dixon joined Foyt as the only other 6-time INDYCAR Champion.
Dixon finished third in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, winning the title by 16-points over Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
“Well, six is good,” said Dixon. “Seven is better. That’s going to be the goal.”
Dixon started the race in 11th position and had to finish eighth or ninth depending on where Newgarden finished. Newgarden didn’t make it easy, winning the race for the second year in-a-row.
“Credit to Josef (Newgarden) and Team Penske,” said Dixon. “He drove a hell of a race there and put us under a lot of pressure. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly and gained a lot of points.”
The No. 9 team started the 2020 season with three-straight wins and built up a lead of 117-points but saw it dwindle to 32-points following races at Mid-Ohio in September and the Harvest Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this month.
Dixon and his “Wolfpack” crew however managed to lead the Championship throughout the entire season.
“It’s all the team,” credited Dixon. “I can’t thank everybody on this team enough. Obviously, Chip (Ganassi), Mike (Hull) and Barry (Wanser) and everybody involved.”
A big part of Dixon’s team is wife Emma, daughters Poppy and Tilly and son Kit.
“Big thanks to my wife Emma and my family,” said Dixon. “I’m glad my girls are here, unfortunately (toddler son) Kit isn’t here.
It’s a big shame that he couldn’t be here. I can’t thank them enough. We’ll have to win another one so he can be in the pictures.”
The Championship is the 13th for Chip Ganassi and his team, which is celebrating their 30th Anniversary in 2020.
“It’s never just one thing or one person. For me, it’s about the team effort. We had a lot of changes in the offseason but huge thanks again to everyone on the team.”
The Championship is also Dixon’s second in three-years for Pittsburgh-headquartered PNC Bank.
“PNC Bank, two out of three years (as champion) – that’s pretty good going,” said Dixon. “I can’t thank all of our partners enough: PNC Bank, Honda, NTT Data, Huski Chocolate.”
Honda took home the Manufacturers Championship for the third year in-a-row.
“I’m proud to be powered by Honda and what they’ve been able to pull out this year given the deficit we’ve had going into Indy previous years,” said Dixon. “They nailed it. Big thanks to everybody.”
“Human beings are the thing that make the world go around and Scott is a very special human being,” said Ted Klaus, President of Honda Performance Development (HPD). “We call them the ‘driver’ for a reason, because they drive the whole team. Scott drives everything about, not just Chip Ganassi Racing, but HPD and he drives us. And we need those kinds of strong drivers to get the achievements that we seek. I don’t think he’s done. I think he’s still hungry and I think it humbles all of us. Good for Scott!”