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Racing Notebook: Sato Receives ‘Baby Borg’; Andretti Signs Wheldon Brothers; Road To Indy Recaps and much more

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Plenty of news throughout the paddock at this past weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg including Takuma Sato being awarded a miniature version of the Borg Warner Trophy for his Indianapolis 500 win in 2020 plus Andretti Autosport signs Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon to development deals and the entire ‘Road To Indy’ results from this past weekend.

Takuma Sato Receives ‘Baby Borg’ For Indy 500 Win:

  • 2020 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing owners Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan received miniature versions of the Borg Warner Trophy on Friday in commemoration of Sato’s 2nd Indianapolis 500 victory last year.

Will Power Signs Contract Extension:

  • Will Power is staying at Team Penske for the foreseeable future.  Power signed a contract extension with the team but the length and terms were not announced.  Power is the longest-tenured driver with Penske, winning the Championship in 2014 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018.  Power is second among active INDYCAR drivers in wins with 39, trailing only 6-time and reigning Champion Scott Dixon’s 50.

Andretti Autosports Signs Sebastian And Oliver Wheldon:

  • Andretti Autosport is looking towards the future after signing Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon, sons of the late 2-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, as junior drivers.  The Andretti team will mentor the Wheldon brothers as they compete with JC Karting in three different series: Rok Cup USA, Super Karts USA and United States Pro Kart Series.

Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon with Michael Andretti

Three Rivers Karting

Kyle Kirkwood Wins Saturday’s Indy Lights Race:

  • Kyle Kirkwood beat his Andretti Autosport teammate Danial Frost by 1.3-seconds to win the first of two Indy Lights races on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Frost crossed the finish line 1-second ahead of third place David Malukas. Andretti Autosport just missed out on a podium sweep as Robert Meginnis finished fourth. Indy Light Race 1 Results

David Malukas Wins Sunday’s Indy Lights Race:

  • David Malukas beat Kyle Kirkwood by 0.6829 of a second to win Sunday’s Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Andersen Interior Contracting. The second win of the season for Malukas was enough to move the rising star from HMD Motorsports into a slender three-point championship lead ahead of Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports stablemate Linus Lundqvist, from Sweden, who finished third. Indy Lights Sunday Results

Braden Eves Wins Saturday’s Indy Pro 2000 Race:

  • Braden Eves led from flag-to-flag to win Saturday’s opening leg of the Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Cooper Tires. The 21-year-old from New Albany, Ohio, held off s stiff challenge Denmark’s Christian Rasmussen.  Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea, from New Zealand, finished third.  University of Pittsburgh student Colin Kaminsky started ninth and finished ninth. Indy Pro 2000 Race 1 Results

Christian Rasmussen Sunday’s Indy Pro 2000 Race:

  • Christian Rasmussen picked up his first Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires victory Sunday morning on the streets of St. Petersburg. The Jay Howard Driver Development wheelman has been knocking on the door of Victory Lane in each of the opening three races of the season. The Juncos Racing duo of Manuel Sulaiman and Reece Gold finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.  Pabst Racing’s Hunter McElrea and Colin Kaminsky rounded out the top 5. Indy Pro 2000 Race 2 Results

Christian Brooks Wins Both USF 2000 Races:

  • Exclusive Autosports Christian Brooks enjoyed a near perfect weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg. The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship sophomore claimed a pair of victories today on the unforgiving 1.8-mile street circuit, elevating himself from fifth in the points.

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Josef Newgarden quickest in Monday’s Indy 500 Practice

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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

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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

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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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