ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The final semester for any college student is one of the most hectic times of their lives. Immense discipline and time management is needed to balance classes, studying, group projects, playing hockey and fast approaching finals. Imagine adding a full-time racing career on top of all of that.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Colin Kaminsky is finishing up his undergraduate studies this week while competing for Pabst Racing in the Indy Pro 2000 Series presented by Cooper Tires, a development series that is part of The ‘Road To Indy’ ladder system.
Most students spend the weekend before finals studying their curriculum. Kaminsky is not only doing that, he’s studying data sheets and working with his engineers trying to figure out how to extract maximum performance out of his race car.
Kaminsky started his 2021 season off with a seventh place in the season opener at Barber Motorsports Park. This past weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Saturday Kaminsky finished ninth in the first race.
“I was probably a little too tentative probably on the opening lap trying not crash with a couple of ballsy kids, but we finished where we started and kept the nose clean,” said Kaminsky, who returned on Sunday to post a Top 5.
“I think we had a car to get to the podium,” explained Kaminsky. “I think we were the fastest car out of the top three or four. We just got stuck behind a couple guys and almost got into fourth. Fifth at the end of the day I’m pretty happy with.”
To give you an idea on how Kaminsky is balancing the demands of finishing school along with his racing, following Saturday’s race Kaminsky was hitting the books. Sunday morning it was race two followed by starting the trip home with a stop at a hotel so he could have WiFi to attend a virtual class Monday morning. Monday afternoon it was back on the road to finish the trip home, just in time to get ready for a final on Wednesday.
Kaminsky is looking forward to graduating so he can devote all of his time to advancing his racing career.
“The University of Pittsburgh has been a great home for the last couple of years,” said Kaminsky. “Now to put those hours that you have to spend outside the classroom and spend those hours getting to know people and putting together the best proposals.”
Those proposals is where Kaminsky will be putting his marketing degree to good use as he searches for additional sponsorship to move up the ‘Road To Indy’ ladder.
“Short term I want to find the backing to either move up to Indy Lights or continue in Indy Pro 2000,” said Kaminsky, who was a goaltender for the Pitt Hockey team. “Ultimately the goal is the Indy 500.”
To get to the Indianapolis 500 requires success on-track and off-track, especially in that search for funding.
“It’s tough,” explained Kaminsky about the search. “We’ve been a little successful in the past but nothing too substantial. You just have to chip away at it. The worst thing they (business owners) can say is ‘no’ and at the end of the day you’re in the same boat where you started.”
To help the search for sponsorship and to build his brand along with increasing his profile, Kaminsky launched his own website, www.ckaminsky.com. In addition to his website Kaminsky, as he mentioned earlier, is putting together packages for potential partners.
“It’s a brochure, essentially, of who you are, what you do, what you can offer and what you need,” said Kaminsky, who currently sits sixth in the Championship standing following St. Petersburg.
Kaminsky is thankful for the support of Slick Locks Corporation. Slick Locks is a drill-free line of puck locks, Spinner 360’s™, Weather Shield™ covers and blade brackets for all hinged and sliding door vehicles in all makes and models available. Slick Locks cutting edge bracket designs have made them the number one choice of large fleet managers worldwide.
“They’ve been my biggest backer since we started,” said Kaminsky. “(They) Got me into racing and kept me here. They’ve been my biggest supporter.”
Pitt graduates who are business owners have a golden opportunity to support a fellow Panther who has a unique platform for companies to grow their brand. Kaminsky is encouraging Pitt alumni to reach out to him to learn how to use racing to help their business and entertain clients.
“If you ever get out to a race track you are going to be hooked,” explained Kaminsky. “I think it’s an exhilarating experience to be a part of, surely it’s nothing like what maybe Pitt graduates have seen before.”
Kaminsky also thinks that the University of Pittsburgh, in general, could take advantage of the platform that racing provides both from a marketing and educational standpoint, especially since the garage area is full of engineers.
“We could go to Mid-Ohio (Sports Car Complex), that’s the closest one,” said Kaminsky of the track located in Lexington, Ohio, just 167-miles from the Cathedral of Learning. “We could get Pitt alums, the board (of trustees), we could get everybody there. We could throw a nice big ‘PITT’ sticker and an ‘H2P’ on the car, get a Blue and Gold (drivers) suit, that would be very cool”.
Spoken like someone who is already figuring out how to put his education to work for him post-graduation.
The next three races for the Indy Pro 2000 Series presented by Cooper Tires is May 13-15 on the road course at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou Wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – In just his first year with the team Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou is your 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion.
Palou’s 4th-place finish in Sunday’s season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach guaranteed the 24-year-old native of Spain his first INDYCAR Championship in his second season and the Ganassi team their 14th title since 1996.
“This team is amazing,” said Palou. “I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. What a race, what a year, what a season.”
“People win Championships,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The driver, the team, and especially the people behind the scenes, leaving the shop in the winter when it’s dark out and snowing, that don’t get the notoriety.”
Palou started the race in tenth position in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. Palou’s closest Championship rival, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, started the race in eighth position. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden started on the pole position with Palou’s CGR teammate Scott Dixon alongside in second place in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
Newgarden took the lead in turn one with Dixon in tow as the field took the green flag. The race wasn’t even 2-laps old when Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones made an ambitious attempt to pass James Hinchcliffe, but made contact with O’Ward with Palou right behind Jones!
📲: INDYCAR APP – https://t.co/vyuISIyifv
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
O’Ward brought out the caution flag a short time later on lap 20 when the right rear driveshaft failed on the front stretch.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 26, 2021
The caution flag shuffled the field as some cars went to pit road for service while other cars stayed out to gain track position, giving the lead to Helio Castroneves, who took a turn at the front of the field until he went to pit road on lap 34, giving the lead to Colton Herta.
Herta earned his turn at the front as he was making moves through the field throughout the race and following the last restart, it was Newgarden and Dixon giving chase. Palou was behind Dixon in fourth doing what he needed to get the car to the checkered flag in one piece.
Herta pulled away in the end to a .5883-second victory, his ?? win of 2021. Newgarden finished second to jump O’Ward for second in the Championship, 38-points behind Palou.
Dixon finished third followed by Palou in fourth. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud rounded out the Top 5.
Alexander Rossi, Jack Harvey, Sebastian Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Will Power made up spots 6 through 10.
Honda claimed the Engine Manufacturer’s Championship for the fourth straight year.
Josef Newgarden wins pole position for INDYCAR Acura Long Beach Grand Prix
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Newgarden’s fast lap of 1-minute, 8.2241-seconds around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit was .2181-seconds faster than Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
The pole position and valuable Championship point is exactly what Newgarden needs to do to win his third series title. Newgarden enters the race in third position in the standings, 48-points behind leader Alex Palou, and must win, lead the most laps and hope Palou finishes 25th or worse.
“It’s very improbable for us to win this championship,” Newgarden said. “So, our goal is to win the race tomorrow. Let’s finish our season on a high note, and we’ll see what happens. I think it’s pretty unlikely, but you never say never in this sport.”
The only other driver with a shot at the Championship is Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who will start eighth in the 28-car field. O’Ward also needs to win and hope for Palou to finish 25th or worse.
“Our car has been good,” said O’Ward. “We didn’t roll off the best, but I think we made some really good changes, just kept improving. We had enough for the Fast 6.”
Palou will start 10th in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Palou and O’Ward were on flying laps when they were forced to slow for a local yellow for Will Power, costing both valuable lap time which eventually cost both the ability to advance to the final round of knockout-style qualifying.
“That yellow flag didn’t help us at all,” said Palou. “I think we were going to be easy through, but racing stuff, right? I’m happy because the car’s good, a bit better than yesterday and this morning.”
“Kind of sucks to get hosed by a very odd call,” added O’Ward. “We should have been in the Fast 6.”
Palou must finish 12th or better – or 13th or better if he leads a lap – to clinch his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship and CGR’s 14th title since 1996!
Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network. A 30-minute warmup starts at noon (ET), live on Peacock Premium.
Colton Herta goes back-to-back at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta won Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey giving him back-to-back victories two decades after his father accomplished the same feat. Herta beat Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by 1.9747-seconds to pick up his second victory of 2021 and fifth of his career.
“Alex, really the whole race, was right there,” said Herta. “Then Grosjean at the end pressured Alex, therefore pressured me. To go two-for-two so far (at Laguna Seca) is great. We were fast all weekend, and I’m glad we could pull it off in the race.”
Palou continued his march towards his first series title with a second place after last week’s win at Portland, which gives Palou and the No. 10 NTT DATA team a 35-point lead ahead of second place Pato O’Ward.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the pace that Colton had,” explained Palou. “I think in reds and blacks he had a bit more. As soon as I tried to catch him, which we tried, I would just cook my tires. Yeah, I couldn’t go as fast as him without losing my tires.”
Palou, O’Ward and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden are the only drivers eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale. Newgarden is third in the standings, 48 points back.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson were eliminated from contention at this race after finishing 13th and sixth, respectively.
“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward said. “I truly feel like we used every single ounce of energy and pace that this car had. We pulled off a near-miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. In the race, honestly, that was as much as I had.
“All we can do at Long Beach is win, and then let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy around a street course, so let’s see what we can pull off next week.”
Herta’s victory clinched the Manufacturers Championship for the fourth consecutive season.