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Racing Notebook: McLaughlin To INDYCAR for Penske in ’21; Sato Back With Rahal For ’21 and more!

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Chris Graythen/Getty Images

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A busy start to the weekend in the racing world as Team Penske confirms Scott McLaughlin’s switch to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES plus Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato will return to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2021; Firestone renews sponsorship of St. Pete and Cup Series starting lineup.

Scott McLaughlin Leaving Supercars For INDYCAR:

  • Team Penske is leaving Australian Supercars but is brining Scott McLaughlin over to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.  The team announced late Friday that McLaughlin will transition from Supercars to complete the team’s four-car, full-season lineup in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The 27-year-old McLaughlin will make his INDYCAR SERIES debut this weekend at the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
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Takuma Sato To Return To Rahal Letterman Lanigan In 2021:

  • Takuma Sato is returning to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.  Four of Sato’s six INDYCAR wins have come with RLL.  Sato, a two-time Indy 500 winner (2017 & 2020), joined RLL for the 2012 season and then returned in 2018.  2021 will mark his fourth consecutive season with the team and fifth overall. “Clearly it has been a successful partnership over the last several years, culminating in this year’s Indy 500 victory and I look forward to further success with Takuma throughout 2021.” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan.

Firestone Renews Sponsorship of Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:

  • Bridgestone Americas, Inc. is extending their Firestone brand’s title sponsorship of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for an additional three-years. “While the road to St. Petersburg has certainly been different this year, we are thrilled to return to the streets of St. Pete and help crown an NTT IndyCar Series champion,” said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “Firestone tires have taken the checkers with the winner at all 15 IndyCar Series races here, and we’re proud to continue growing our partnership with Green Savoree Racing Promotions to support this marquee event in a community that shares our passion for the sport.”

Kevin Harvick On Cup Series Pole Position:

  • Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader Echo Park Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway from the pole position.  Team Penske’s Joey Logano will start on the outside of the front row.  Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott will makeup row 2.  The race is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on NBCSN.  The starting lineup was determined by NASCAR’s ‘performance matrix’. Texas Cup Series Starting Lineup

IndyCar

INDY GP Racing Notebook: CGR’s Armstrong Quickest in Warmup as Ferrucci & Grosjean Make Contact plus more.

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Owens

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong is quick in Saturday’s morning NTT INDYCAR SERIES warm-up for the Sonsio Gran Prix as Santino Ferrucci and Romain Grosjean make contact plus Jacob Able scores his second INDY NXT victory and VRD Racing sweeps Friday’s support races and more in the INDY GP Racing Notebook.

Marcus Armstrong Leads Morning Warmup

  • Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong led the NTT INDYCAR SERIES morning warmup for the Sonsio Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.  Armstrong’s fast lap of 1-minute, 9.8485-seconds in the No. 11 Honda was almost 4-tenths of a second quicker than Andretti Global’s Colton Herta (1:10.2314).  Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus Veejay was third (1:10.3889) followed by pole-sitter and defending race-winner Alex Palou in the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (1:10.4222).  Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal was fifth (1:10.4573).  Chip Ganassi had three cars in the Top 6 with Scott Dixon right behind Rahal with a fast lap of 1:10.5407 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

Ferrucci And Grosjean Spar In Warmup

  • AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Romain Grosjean made contact during the morning warmup for Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Sonsio Gran Prix.  Ferrucci’s No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevy was inside Grosjean’s JHR Chevy in Turn 10 and Grosjean turned right into Ferrucci’s car.  Ferrucci pushed Grosjean back to the left side and gave him a hand gesture as the pair came down the South short chute heading into Turn 12.  Ferrucci told NBS Sports afterwards, “If he doesn’t like it, come over here and talk to me about it.”

Abel Makes It 2-In-A-Row In INDYNXT

  • Jacob Able is a two-time winner in INDY NXT competition.  Able held off Nolan Siegel in a three-lap shootout Friday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. “This is awesome,” said Abel, who led 35 laps in this race. “Unfortunately, we don’t get to celebrate for too long here. We’re getting another chance tomorrow. That was a really great race, though.”  Siegel, of HMD Motorsports finished second .5470-seconds behind.  Andretti Global’s Jamie Chadwick finished third, the best finish for a female driver in INDY NXT since Pippa Mann’s win in 2010 at Kentucky. INDY NXT Race 1 Results
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Nikita Armstrong Wins USFPro200 Race

  • 15-year-old Nikita Johnson is 4-for-4 in USFPro2000 competition in 2024.  Johnson helped his VRD Racing Team win the day as Max Taylor won the USF2000 race. Rookie Liam Sceats finished a distant second for TJ Speed Motorsports, his best finish of the season. Lochie Hughes finished third for Turn 3 Motorsport.    indygp-usf-pro-2000-race-1

Taylor Scores USF2000 Win

  • Max Taylor is a winner in USF2000 after taking the first race of a doubleheader on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Taylor took the lead in Turn 1 after a restart following an early full-course caution flag. “My plan was to get into the lead as fast as I could and I did just that. I got to the lead and had a little battle with Evan and just checked out and put some good laps in. The VRD car just drove itself really,” said Taylor. Exclusive Autosport’s Joey Brienza finished second ahead of teammate Evan Cooley who made an impressive USF2000 debut by qualifying on pole position. indygp-usf2000-race-1

Maeta To Perform National Anthem at Sonsio GP

  • Maeta, an Indianapolis native who recently peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart, will perform the national anthem before the start of the Sonsio Grand Prix on Saturday, May 11 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Having an Indianapolis native, whose career is just taking off, ensures this performance will be memorable for all involved. Maeta’s rendition is sure to set the stage for an epic race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course,” said J. Douglas Boles, President of IMS.

Sonsio Extends Partnership With IMS

  • Sonsio Vehicle Protection is renewing its partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sonsio Vehicle Protection, an industry-leading provider of vehicle protection and warranty programs, will continue as an Official Partner of IMS and the title sponsor of the Sonsio Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES road course race. Sonsio Vehicle Protection serves more than 82,000 dealerships, F&I service providers, manufacturers, insurance companies, parts suppliers, retail chains and many independent retailers across all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.
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IndyCar

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Racing Notebook; Andretti to Penske – Sell; IndyCar & Indy NXT Qualifying; and more

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Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 9, 2024) – The green flag hasn’t even dropped on the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season and negativity continues to plague the open-wheel series as Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden won the pole position for Sunday’s race; the INDY NXT starting lineup is set; IMSA hits the streets of St. Pete along with USF2000.

Andretti to Penske ‘Invest or sell’

  • Team owner Michael Andretti went public on Friday with growing frustration in the INDYCAR paddock about the direction of the series under Penske Entertainment.  Andretti told IndyStar.com that Penske should “sell the series” if he’s unwilling to make a sizable investment to propel the series to the next level.  Chip Ganassi had his poker face on Friday morning during a media session but later told reporters “Anybody that can run IMS with no fans in the stands? He’s got my vote. He coughed up the money to buy the place & he coughed it up during COVID & kept the series running.”

Newgarden Wins INDYCAR Pole

  • Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is on the pole position for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.  Newgarden’s fast lap of 59.5714 in the PPG Chevy came on his last lap as time was running out in the final round of knockout-style qualifying and edged Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist by fifty-eight hundredths of a second. IndyCar St. Pete Starting Lineup

Siegel Claims First INDY NXT Pole

  • Nolan Siegel won his first career INDY NXT by Firestone pole position on Saturday in record fashion with a fast lap of 1 minute, 4.5759 seconds. Jacob Abel was quickest in Group 2, but he didn’t get a chance to finish his final lap due to the crash of series newcomer Callum Hedge in the final set of corners. Series rookie Myles Rowe (No. 99 HMD Motorsports with Force Indy) and Louis Foster of Andretti Global (No. 26 Copart/Novara Technologies) will start Sunday’s race from the second row.  The green flag drops shortly after 10 a.m.
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Jones and Lazare Sweep IMSA Races

  • Jagger Jones and Jesse Lazare completed the sweep of Rounds 3 and 4 in the Le Mans Prototype 3 (P3) and Grand Sport X (GSX) classes of the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Saturday. Rounds 5 and 6 of the VP Racing Challenge will take place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, June 7-9.

Hughes Dominates Scrappy USF Pro 2000 Opener

  • Lochie Hughes of Australia took home the victory in the USF Pro 2000 series opener.   Hughes led throughout a crash-marred 24-lap opening leg of the Foundation Building Materials USF Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race to take the checkered flag for Turn 3 Motorsport. Christian Brooks came home in second place with New Zealander Liam Sceats rounded out the podium for TJ Speed Motorsports. Race Two of the double-header opening round of the season will start tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. with Hughes once again set to start at the front of the field.  USF Pro 2000 Sat

Garcia Takes USF 2000 Victory

  • 14-year-old Max Garcia was victorious in the USF2000 The Andersen Companies Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Jay Howard Driver Development’s Evagoras Papasavvas finished second followed by Sam Corry in third. The green flag for the second round of the 18-race USF2000 season will fly at 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

Brett Michaels Honorary Starter; Jon Bon Jovi in 2-seater

  • Multi-platinum music icon Bret Michaels will wave the green flag over the 27-car NTT INDYCAR SERIES starting field tomorrow at approximately 12:30 p.m. ET as the honorary starter of the 20th Annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. He joins the pre-race festivities which include St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch and three past mayors as grand marshals along with fellow rock legend Jon Bon Jovi who will ride in the “Fastest Seat in Sports.”

INDYCAR & Dirty Mo Media Partnership

  • INDYCAR and Dirty Mo Media, the multimedia content platform of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced March 7 that they have formed a partnership to promote INDYCAR content created by Dirty Mo, specifically the podcast “Speed Street,” hosted by INDYCAR SERIES driver Conor Daly and content creator Chase Holden. The weekly podcast, which began in 2021, will feature the winner of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race each week in 2024.
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Racing Notebook: PA Motor Speedway cancels Test & Tune; INDYCAR at St. Pete; Kris Wright in Phoenix and more!

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Photo: Steve Skarupa

Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway cancels this weekend’s ‘test & tune’; The NTT INDYCAR SERIES gears up for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding; Kris Wright takes on Phoenix this Friday and more in the Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook:

PPMS Cancels Test & Tune

  • Persistent rain on Tuesday and Wednesday have forced Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway to cancel this Saturday’s ‘Test & Tune’ one week before the season-opening ‘Pot of Gold 75’.  The Pits open at 9 a.m. and the Grandstands open at 11 a.m. with the Saturday program scheduled to start at Noon.  For more information visit PPMS.com.
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INDYCAR Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES kicks off the 2024 season on Friday with one practice session to get teams ready for Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.  Mayor Ken Welch, PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and other dignitaries raised the flag Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at City Hall to signify the official civic event kickoff to the race weekend.

Kris Wright Gets Ready for Phoenix

  • Wexford native Kris Wright and his Venturini Motorsports team descend on Phoenix Raceway for Friday’s ARCA Menards Series General Tire 150. This weekend marks Wright’s first start at Phoenix in the ARCA Series. Wright has previously competed in a NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) race in 2022 and a NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series (NCTS) race in 2021 at the Avondale, Ariz., venue.  Wright has participated in two ARCA Menards Series West races, including one event with Venturini Motorsports. “I’m excited to return to Phoenix Raceway after having a fast car there in the fall. Our No. 15 Venturini Motorsports team has been working on it during the off-season, and we’re looking forward to heading back West for this race.”

Chip Ganassi Racing Unveils Season 2 Trading Cards

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