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INDYCAR Racing In The Streets This Weekend At Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg



Photo: Chris Owens/INDYCAR

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is racing in the streets this weekend for the 18th annual Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The 14-turn, 1.89-mile temporary street circuit that incorporates city streets and part of the Albert Whitted Airport to make up the picturesque course that is a fan (and media) favorite on the schedule.

Josef Newgarden is the defending race winner, taking home the victory when the Series finished their 2020 season on Florida’s Gulf Coast after rescheduling the race due to the global pandemic.

Chip Ganassi’s team enters the weekend with a ton of momentum following the season opening race at Barber Motorsports Park. Three of the four Ganassi entries finished in the top 10 and 2-out-of-3 finished on the podium

Alex Palou won the race in the No. 10 SegiTV Honda. The victory included a couple of firsts for Palou: His first INDYCAR Series win; His first win with CGR and he is the first Spaniard since Oriol Servia to win an INDYCAR car race since 2005.

“Tough to describe how it feels,” Palou said of that first victory. “You feel like all the work that you’ve done the past years, the past months, the past days, it feels amazing that you did a good job and the team did a good job.”

Scott Dixon finished third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda after staring fifth. Dixon has never won at St. Pete but has four runner-up finishes, the most recent coming in 2019.

“It’s just one of those things that hasn’t worked out,” said Dixon about that elusive victory. “This place owes me nothing.  It’s hard. It’s a difficult track. I’ve definitely had races here where we probably should’ve converted to a win and either made a mistake or we missed it on strategy. We’ll work hard, that’s the only way you’re going get to possibly get a win here, and keep knocking on that door.”

Marcus Ericsson finished eighth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda but the finish was hardly indicative of his performance. Ericsson was running as high as fourth late in the race when he had to go into fuel conservation mode to make it to the end.

Three Rivers Karting

The No. 8 team employed the same two-stop strategy as the No. 9 and No. 10 but was the first to come to pit road for the final stop. If a caution would have come out they would have been in the proverbial cat bird seat.

The ‘rookie’ on the team, seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson, finished 19th in his first race in the series, 3-laps down after an early spin.

“This weekend again is going to be like starting all over,” Johnson told Pittsburgh Racing Now. “A tire I have not been on. A circuit I have not been on. Never been in a street race either, so there are so many new things. I really feel like I am starting all over again.”

What Johnson is trying to accomplish is nothing short of amazing, something that is not lost on his six-time Champion teammate.

“What Jimmie is trying to do, I couldn’t think of anything more difficult,” said Dixon. “With the limited track-time we get nowadays, you have one maybe two practice sessions and then into qualifying, it’s very difficult on rookies.“

Team Penske’s Will Power is also carrying momentum into St. Pete after finishing second to Palou at Barber. Power was thrilled to start the season with a strong finish.

“I was happy to have a good start to the year,” said Power. “Obviously a win is always great but compared to the way we started last year this is nice. It was a very calm day for me. I’m calm about the season. I’ve been around long enough to know how this ebbs and flows.”

One of the keys at St. Pete is keeping the car on the course. Another key is getting the car to work on multiple surfaces: pavement, concrete, runway, taxiway.

“Typically when you go back to a road course they stay pretty similar from year-to-year,” explained Dixon. “Here turn 9 and turn 10 has been resurfaced since last year, so there’s a different amount of grip and that could be for three or four or five turns through the circuit. Plus, how they build the walls. An apex one year could be in this place and now it’s in a different place. It definitely makes it interesting. The margin of error – you’re talking just inches before you’re slamming yourself into a wall.”

The race is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. with coverage starting a Noon on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network.


Josef Newgarden quickest in Monday’s Indy 500 Practice



Penske Entertainment: Matt Fraver

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 20, 2024) Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is atop the speed chart after turning a fast lap of 226.238 mph in Monday’s two-hour Indianapolis 500 practice.

Andretti Global’s Colton Herta turned the second quickest lap on the day with a 226.222 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.  Herta will start 13th on Sunday.

Front row starter Will Power was third fastest in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy at 226.137.

Pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin managed the 21st fastest lap in the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevy at 224.031.  McLaughlin ran 77-laps as teams focused on race runs.

Three Rivers Karting

Scott Dixon turned the seventh fastest lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda to lead Chip Ganassi Racing.  Teammate and reigning series Champion Alex Palou was 19th fastest in the No. 10 DHL Honda.

CGR Rookie Linus Lundqvist was 23rd quick in the No. 8 American Legion Be The One Honda (223.842) followed by fellow CGR rookie Kyffin Simpson in 27th in the No. 4 Journie Rewards Honda (223.337) and Marcus Armstrong in 30th after turning a 222.936 in the No. 11 Ridgeline Honda.

The next and final on-track session is Miller Lite Carb Day practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET Friday (live, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network). Live coverage of the race starts at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Universo, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Monday Indy 500 Practice

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Scott McLaughlin Wins Pole Position For 108th Indianapolis 500



Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 19, 2024) Scott McLaughlin is on the pole position for the 108th Indianapolis 500 mile race leading a Team Penske sweep of the front row.

McLaughlin’s four-lap average of 234.220 mph in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet is the fastest four-lap average pole speed in the history of the race.

“To execute the way we he have as a team, that’s what’s really cool,” said McLaughlin. “You see the time, and then it’s all about just executing”

Joining McLaughlin on the front row are teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden giving Penske his first front-row sweep since Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Sr locked out the front row in 1988.

“Pretty cool to get a front row lockout,” said Power who will start second and also finished second in the Sonsio Grand Prix to start the month of May. “I definitely like second place this year. It’s just every single weekend it’s either second in the race or second in qualifying, so I’ll continue that for the rest of the year.”

Chevrolet-powered drivers swept the top eight spots in the 33-car field for the race Sunday, May 26 as Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi will start fourth followed by teammate and NASCAR Cup Champion Kyle Larson in fifth.

Three Rivers Karting

AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci will start sixth with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay in seventh and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward in eighth.

Rounding out the third row is the first Honda driver, Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist.

Four drivers fought for the final three starting spots with Dale Coyne Racing’s Katherine Legge starting 31 followed by Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson, the 2022 Indy 500 winner and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal will start 33rd after getting bumped last year.

“Last year, it still stings,” said Rahal. “It’s not much better being 33rd. I can tell you that. At least we’re in the field, and we’re going to go racing. I know how much it stings on the flip side.”

Legge’s DCR teammate rookie Nolan Siegel failed to make race after crashing on his second attempt as time expired in the session.

“Yeah, super disappointed, obviously,” said Siegel. “Took a swing at it to try and find a half mile an hour to get to where Graham was at, and we were already on the limit of the trim. So I was going to go home because I went flat and did everything I could do. I wasn’t going to go home because I lifted, so here I am.”

Indy 500 Starting Lineup

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Team Penske and Chevrolet Dominate Day 1 of Indy 500 Qualifying



Penske Entertainment: Walt Kuhn

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 18, 2024) Conspiracy theorists are having a field day after Team Penske swept the Top 3 spots in day one of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The feat comes one month after the team was caught running illegal software in the warmup prior to the Long Beach Grand Prix.  An INDYCAR investigation determined that software, which allowed the push-to-pass system to be active on starts and restarts, was in use at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.

Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion posted the fastest four lap average of 233.758 mph, in the No. 12 Chevrolet.  Ironically, Power was the only Penske driver to not use the advantage in St. Petersburg.

Reigning Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden was second-quick with a four-lap average of 233.332 in the No. 2 Chevy and Scott McLaughlin was third quick in the No. 3 Chevy with a four-lap average of 233.293 mph.  Newgarden and McLaughlin were stripped of their St. Petersburg finishes as a penalty, so Saturday was quite the redemption for the team that has had a cloud hanging over them.

“We got an early draw, which helps,” said Power of the qualifying draw where all three Penske cars went out in the first hour when ambient and track temperatures were cooler.

Chevrolet was the story of Saturday as the brand with the bow tie sweeping nine of the Top 12 spots, which are eligible for Sunday’s Top 12 qualifying runs of which the Top 6 will go for the pole position late in the day in the Firestone Fast 6.

Three Rivers Karting

The fastest Honda-powered entry was Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood who posted a four-lap average of 232.764, good for fifth on the day.

The best Chip Ganassi Racing could muster on Saturday was reigning Series champion Alex Palou who posted a four-lap average of 232.306 in the No. 10 DHL Honda.

Palou’s teammates Marcus Armstrong placed 16th in the No. 11 Ridgeline Honda with a four-lap average of 232.183. Rookie Kyffin Simpson was two spots behind in 18th after posting a 231.948 average.

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon will start 21st with an average of 231.851 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda and Linus Lundqvist will start 27th in the No. 8 American Legion Be The One Honda with an average of 231.506.

Four drivers failed to make the Top 30 and will fight for the final three spots in the 33-car field in Last Chance Qualifying on Sunday including Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal, who went through the same scenario last year when he failed to make the field on speed but ended up substituting for the injured Stefan Wilson.

Two of Dale Coyne’s cars also failed to make the field on speed including Nolan Siegel and Katherine Legge.

Perhaps the most surprising driver to not make the Top 30 is 2022 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who is now driving for Andretti Global.

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