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Racing Notebook: Hinchcliffe To Run Full INDYCAR Season For Andretti; Acura Commits To LMDh; Western PA Sprint Speedweek Sponsor News and more!

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Matt Fraser

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The latest edition of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has the latest on James Hinchcliffe’s plans for 2021; Acura commits to field a car in LMDh plus the Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek gets a sponsor; Chip Ganassi Racing teams up with GMC and the NASCAR Foundation announces new board members.

James Hinchcliffe To Run Full NTT INDYCAR SERIES Schedule In 2021:

  • James Hinchcliffe is set to run the full 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES for Andretti Autosport. Hinchcliffe will be sporting the Genesys orange for 10 races throughout the 2021 season, including the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Genesys, the global leader in cloud customer experience and contact center solutions, served as Hinchcliffe’s sponsor at three of INDYCAR’s marquee events in the 2020 season.

Acura Commits To IMSA’s LMDh Category For 2023:

  • Acura Motorsports on Tuesday confirmed it will continue to compete in the top category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2023 under the new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) format. Acura expects to share more information on their LMDh plans later this year.  Acura Motorsports will compete in the top category in IMSA, Daytona Prototype International (DPi), this year with two new teams, Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing, beginning with this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
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Schaeffer’s To Sponsor Western PA Sprint Speedweek:

  • Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants has signed on to be the title sponsor of Western PA Sprint Speedweek.  Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants manufactures and supplies all types of synthetic motor oils, hydraulic fluids, diesel fuel additives, industrial lubricants, greases and oils, chain lubes, and degreasers. Western PA Sprint Speedweek returns Jun. 2nd-6th 2021 when the ‘410 Sprints’ compete for five straight nights around the Western PA racing circuit, with each show featuring a robust purse highlighted by the $3,000 winner’s share.

GMC Partners With Chip Ganassi Racing In Extreme E:

  • 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, will feature a unique grille, graphics and bodywork, inspired by the GMC HUMMER EV, the world’s first all-electric supertruck.  Sara Price and Kyle LeDuc will get to drive the Ganassi/GMC Hummer EV when the Extreme E season debuts in April.  Pittsburgher’s may remember that Chip’s sister Annette used to own a GMC dealership on Route 8.

NASCAR Foundation Names New Board Members:

  • The NASCAR Foundation on Tuesday announced two additions to its Board of Directors. Veteran race car driver Hurley Haywood and Rev Racing Co-owner Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel accepted nominations to join the board led by Chairman Mike Helton. Haywood is widely known for winning the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA five times, the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times and 12 Hours of Sebring twice. He is credited with the 1988 Trans-Am title, two IMSA GT Championship titles and 23 wins, three Norelco Cup championships, a SuperCar title and seven IndyCar starts. Satterfield-Siegel, a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist, is a member of the Payton Manning Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Team as well as treating patients in her private practice. She and her husband co-own Rev Racing, the exclusive manager of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program.

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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