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.
Josef Newgarden tops first INDYCAR practice as Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is starting INDYCAR Championship weekend off on the right pedal by leading the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session on Friday.
Newgarden’s No. 2 Hitachi Chevy turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 11.4103 seconds (112.824 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course circuit with Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta second-quickest at 1:11:8266 (112.170) in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.
“Yeah, just a tricky session,” noted Newgarden. “There was a lot of people going off, there was a lot of dirt on the track, so it was quite difficult to put it together. So not a very straightforward session. But I think very productive in a lot of ways. It’s not a lot of running, and you’re trying to make the most use of just a couple runs, and I felt like we did that, so I was happy about that.”
Championship-leader Will Power was 7th quickest, 1:11:9858 (111.922) in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy. Power leads Newgarden and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon by 20-points heading into Sunday’s season finale.
“Tough track, man,” said Power. “Very low grip. You get one lap on tires, and they’re gone. It’s hard to get a read because the car changes so much over a run.”
Championship contender Marcus Ericsson was tenth fastest in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 1:12:0803 (111.775) and trails Power by ??-points in the title fight.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be a high-deg (tire degradation) race, and it seems to be that way,” said Ericsson. “Usually our team and myself from my experience, we’re usually pretty good at that. Yeah, the tires seemed to degrade quite quickly here. It was the same in the test and the same today in practice.”
Last weekend’s winner Scott McLaughlin was next in line with a 1:12:0877 (111.764). McLaughlin has an outside shot at the title as he sits ??-points behind Power.
Dixon, the six-time series Champion, was 17th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda at 1:12:3911 (111.295) despite a team test at the track a few weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a pretty high-deg race, man,” said Dixon, who can tie INDYCAR Legend A.J. Foyt for all-time Championships with a seventh.
Determined drive by Scott Dixon in Portland earns podium and shot at 7th Championship
PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is in the fight for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship after a third place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.
Dixon entered the race in third-place in the Championship fight, 14-points behind Team Penske’s Will Power and 11-points behind Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden. Dixon leaves Portland tied with Newgarden but Power finished ahead of both and now sits 20-points ahead going into the season finale on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.
“Yeah, you know, still in it,” said Dixon. “That’s all that we can hope for.”
Dixon started the race from the 16th position after failing to advance out of the first round of knockout-style qualifying on Saturday. Qualifying has been a bit of an ‘Achilles heel’ for the No. 9 this season.
“We’ve got to work on qualifying and stop making it so difficult on us,” reflected Dixon, who gained more positions (+13) than anyone in the field from the start to finish of the race. “The car was fantastic in Q1 on the box. Didn’t expect too much of a change and thought we would have converted easy and didn’t even make it. We have to stop doing these most improved days, for sure. It’s not that much fun.”
Dixon opened the race on the less-grippy Firestone primary tires while the majority of those starting ahead of him started on the stickier Firestone alternate tires and quickly moved up a couple of spots before being one of the first to come to pit road for his first pit stop on Lap 13.
Dixon’s No. 9 ‘Wolfpack’ crew swapped out the primary tires for the alternate tires, topped the PNC Bank Honda off with fuel and sent the six-time series Champion back out into the fight where he put his foot down and continued to gain positions as various strategies started playing out.
Dixon’s second to last pit-stop saw his crew put on used alternate Firestones, setting him up for new alternate tires for his final pit stop. Dixon was chasing Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi for fifth place when CGR Managing Director and Dixon’s strategist Mike Hull called him to pit road for the last time.
“We had to use a lot of overtake early on, so that definitely changed things up, I think, for the strategy towards the final five there,” said Dixon. “Had a tricky moment with the 10 car coming in front of us in the pit, which kind of screwed us a bit as well, and lost a position that we should have got on Rossi, which was frustrating.”
Dixon’s frustration was short-lived as the caution came out on Lap 84 when Rinus VeeKay misjudged a pass on Dixon’s teammate Jimmie Johnson, pinching the No. 48 Carvana Honda into the wall ending Johnson’s day.
The 4-lap caution period set-up a restart with Scott McLaughlin leading Power, Pato O’Ward, Newgarden, Rossi and Dixon as the green flag dropped. McLaughlin got a great start and Power settled in behind his teammate when O’Ward made an ambitious move trying to pass Power in Turn 1. It didn’t work.
“Yeah, he sent it straight into me,” Power explained. “I left as much room as I could. Inside, inside, and I kept going further, and, bam, he hit me over the curve. I didn’t expect it from Pato, though. He is usually a pretty good racer, pretty smart racer. He was probably needing to win the race to have a shot at the championship, so he probably just went a little bit too far.”
Turn 1 usually produces some memorable highlights at Portland and this restart was no different as right behind the Power/O’Ward tussle, Newgarden and Rossi got together opening the door for Dixon, who didn’t hesitate to take advantage.
“I think when I saw Josef break I was, like, ‘Wow, I’m not sure if he is going to make the corner,'” said Dixon. “He did all that he could to make the corner, but put him at a weird angle, and that, obviously, offset him and Rossi because Rossi had a great run on him out of 12 into turn one. Then, got a great exit.”
Dixon turned hard left, avoided that calamity, and carried the momentum through the turn and set his sights on O’Ward, who was still gaining speed after hitting Power and made a reactionary move to Dixon’s passing attempt, which is a violation of INDYCAR rules.
“I got a run on Pato, and he put a pretty big block on, and a lap later IndyCar called that, and I was able to get past, which thankfully I think the front three, we pulled a ten-second gap on the next pack where we pulled away really quickly,” said Dixon. “It was a great restart. Something that definitely helped us on the points side, and we’ll take what we can.”
Dixon set his sights on Power and was able to get within a second of the No. 12 Chevy but wasn’t able to challenge for the second spot on the podium.
“We did as much as we could today,” said Dixon. “All in all, I think the team did a great job today. Yeah, we’ll see. See what comes next week. I think it’s pretty cool that we don’t need any resets or any chase championships or anything like that. It always comes down to the wire in the INDYCAR Series.”
Ganassi’s Alex Palou won’t repeat as INDYCAR Champion
PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou’s hopes of repeating as NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion is over after Palou was mathematically eliminated after his 12th-place finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.
Palou stated the race in the fourth position on Firestone alternate red sidewall tires and ran in the Top 5 through the first stint of the race. Palou however radioed the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants crew during the second stint that something was wrong with the rear of the car. Palou was on the less-grippy, black sidewall Firestone tires.
“Starting fourth, we were running okay in the beginning and then lost a bit of pace,” said Palou. “We’ll check on what went on today and recover next week in Laguna. We still have one race to go, and we will try to win it.”
Palou’s sits 66-points behind championship leader Will Power going into the season finale next Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Palou’s teammates Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson remain in the title fight with Dixon tied for second place, 20-points behind Power and Ericsson 39-points out of the top spot.