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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

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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.

IndyCar

INDYCAR and NBC sign multi-year extension

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NBC Network announced on Tuesday a multi-year extension to the media rights of the open wheel series.

NBC Sports will continue to be the exclusive home of the Indianapolis 500 and will provide coverage of all NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, qualifying, practices and Indy Lights races across its linear, digital and streaming platforms, including Peacock. Terms of the deal were not announced.

“NBC Sports is proud to extend its partnership with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and continue to serve as the exclusive home of the most competitive open-wheel racing series in the world and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Jon Miller, NBC Sports.

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“NBC Sports has been the ideal partner for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, bringing our bold and audacious style of racing to a significantly larger domestic audience and fully leveraging the power and scale of the Indianapolis 500,” said Mark Miles, President and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “This new deal represents a significant expansion of our network TV exposure and sets us up for continued growth and success alongside a committed, innovative and world-class broadcast partner.”

INDYCAR and NBC are enjoying strong ratings for the 2021.  Ratings are up 30% this year.

As part of the agreement, 13 races will be broadcast on NBC. USA Network and Peacock Premium will show the remaining races. Telemundo Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage of the season-opening race, the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale.

Peacock will stream all races on NBC and USA Network and will continue as the streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying and practices sessions, Indy Lights races and full-event replays. Peacock will stream two races exclusively, which will be announced at a later date.

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Dirt Racing

Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship

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NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott joined the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) for their season finale at Nashville Fairgrounds and took home the checkered flag beating Tony Stewart and his father Bill Elliott in the feature.  The win was the first series victory for the younger Elliott.

Chase Elliott was on the inside with Stewart on the outside on a restart with 7-laps-to-go followed by Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte in Row 2.

Chase Elliott beat Stewart into turn one and two with Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte side-by-side for third.

Caution came out with 5-laps-to-go when Paul Tracy made contact with Marco Andretti, sending Andretti into a spin after picking up three spots following the restart.

Chase Elliott got the jump on Stewart on the restart and held on to pick up the win. Stewart finished second and took home the inaugural series Championship.

“Man it was so much fun,” said Chase Elliott.  “I had a ball.  I got to race against two of my heroes tonight and I got to race against Dad there throughout the race and those are moments that I’ll cherish forever.  Thanks to Ray (Evernham, Series co-owner) and Tony (Stewart, Series co-owner) and I appreciate NAPA being on the car.”

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NASCAR Hall-of-famer Bill Elliott, 65, finished third and picked up a win in the first heat race where he started side-by-side with his son Chase.

“I messed up in one not getting all the stuff (marbles) off my tires,” said Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup Series Champion.  “Man I tell you it was a lot of fun. I knew the way the tires were on these cars and the way Chase manages his stuff he was going to be tough to beat.”

“I don’t know what lit a fire under him tonight,” said Chase Elliott.  “But he was as aggressive as I have seen him in years.  It was amazing and a lot of fun.  I thought it was going to be between he and I but he got a little high going into (turn) one.”

The win was also special for the Elliott Family as they were able to park the No. 94 in Victory Lane.  Casey Elliott, the late son of legendary engine builder Ernie Elliott, raced the No. 94 in the ARCA and Busch (now Xfinity) Series before his life was cut short by cancer.

“Obviously a special number too,” said Chase Elliott.  “My late Cousin Casey Elliott ran the 94 for years and years and it’s always special to run that number and I’m glad we were able to get it in Victory Lane at Nashville.”

“How could you ask for more than to finish between two Elliott’s, that’s pretty bad-ass in itself,” said Stewart. “To win this Championship is awesome.  I really appreciate Marcus Lemonis and everyone at Camping World for stepping up and helping us get this thing off the ground.  To be the last guy to win an IROC Championship and the first one to win an SRX Championship means a lot.”

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IndyCar

Josef Newgarden ends Penske INDYCAR win drought at Mid-Ohio

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Joe Skibinski

LEXINGTON, OH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden picked up his, and Team Penske’s, first win of 2021 holding off Marcus Ericsson to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Newgarden started on the pole position and led 73-of-80-laps to pick up his first win since the 2020 season finale at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“This team has been doing the job,” said Newgarden. “Everyone has been giving me a hard time, asking what’s up with us not winning a race. But I don’t think these people at Team Penske could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race, had great performance. It’s great to seal a win here finally.”

Newgarden spoiled a tremendous afternoon for Chip Ganassi Racing, the winningest INDYCAR team at Mid-Ohio.

CGR’s Ericsson finished second, 0.8790-seconds behind Newgarden.  The second place finish was Ericsson’s seventh top-10 finish of 2021.

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“We were hunting him down there,” said Ericsson. “He (Newgarden) was really struggling with his tires the last five laps. Just catching him quickly. Another lap or two would be even better, but I’ll take second today.”

Ericsson’s CGR teammate Alex Palou and Scott Dixon finished third and fourth respectively to give Chip Ganassi three cars in the top 5.

“It’s always good to start P7 and you finish on the podium,” said Palou. “Yeah, I think today was a good result.”

“I think it was a great day, great day for the team, to have me, Alex and Scott, P2, P3 and P4,” said Ericsson. “It’s a strong result. Shows how strong we are at the moment”

Palou remains the Championship points leader, 39 points ahead of Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP. Dixon is third, 56 points behind Palou. Newgarden remained fourth, 69 points back of the leader, and Ericsson jumped three positions to take fifth in the standings, 104 points behind Palou.

INDYCAR Mid Ohio Results

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