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Indy 500 Racing Notebook: Bob Jenkins honored; Mario wins again; Milo Ventimiglia honorary starter; Danica driving and more!



Photo: Karl Zemlin

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Indianapolis 500 racing notebook is loaded with news including longtime broadcaster Bob Jenkins being honored at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Mario Andretti winning again; Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ricky Davis honored; Simon Pagenaud goes to the dogs; ‘This Is Us’ star Milo Ventimiglia waving the green flag and Danica Patrick getting back behind the wheel.

Bob Jenkins wins Robin Miller Award:

  • Veteran broadcaster Bob Jenkins is this year’s winner of the Robin Miller Award, presented annually to a member of the media for their dedication to INDYCAR racing and the Indianapolis 500.  Jenkins is not working the month of May at the Speedway as he is being treated for brain cancer.  Jenkins has done play-by-play for both INDYCAR and NASCAR in addition to decades of radio and television work.  The award is about “honoring an unheralded individual who has dedicated a significant portion of their life to IndyCar racing while bringing unbridled passion and unrelenting work ethic to enrich the sport.”

Mario Andretti and Robin Miller honored:

  • 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti and journalist Robin Miller each received the Bob Russo Founders Award at Indianapolis on Friday.  The award is presented to the individual that demonstrated tireless efforts and dedication to auto racing.  Andretti received the award for 2020 and Miller received the award for 2021.

Ganassi’s Ricky Davis wins Clint Brawner Award:

  • Longtime Chip Ganassi Racing Crew Chief Ricky Davis is this year’s winner of the Clint Brawner Award.  The award is presented every year to the Indianapolis 500 Chief Mechanic who “exemplifies the mechanical and scientific creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise” of Brawner, a self-taught mechanical genius.  Davis has been with CGR for 26-years, winning with drivers Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and, more recently, Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist.
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Pagenaud partners with Julius K-9 and K-9 Comfort Dogs:

  • 2019 Indianapolis 500 Simon Pagenaud and his partner Julius K-9 presented a $5,000 check to Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs, an organization who provides Comfort Dogs for those affected by tragedies. LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs were in New York and New Jersey visiting victims of Superstorm Sandy, and in Connecticut after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lutheran Church Charities currently has over 130 LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs serving in more than 27 states.  For more information visit,

Milo Ventimiglia named honorary starter:

  • Milo Ventimiglia, one of the stars of NBC’s “This Is Us” will serve as the honorary starter for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.  Ventimiglia will be waving the green flag and sending the field of 33-drivers into turn one for ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’. Ventimiglia starred in the 2019 adaptation of the best-selling novel “The Art of Racing In The Rain”, which focuses on a family dog who evaluates his live through the lessons learned by his human owner, a professional race car driver played by Ventimiglia.

Danica Patrick to drive Corvette pace car:

  • 2004 Indianapolis 500 ‘Rookie of the Year’ Danica Patrick will pace the field of 33-drivers and cars for this year’s race in a Chevrolet Corvette.  Patrick, who drove for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Andretti Autosport before moving over to NASCAR, was the first woman to lead the race back in 2004 and won a race in Motegi Japan in 2007.  Patrick retired from professional driving and now hosts a podcast and owns a winery.

2022 Indianapolis 500 Logo Unveiled:

  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveiled the logo for the 2022 Indianapolis 500, which will take place on May 29, 2022.  The logo incorporates the Wreath that all winners receive in victory lane.  Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said the logo design uses another of the Speedway’s iconic images.  This year’s logo incorporates the Pagoda and logos the past few years have included the twin checkered flags and the yard of bricks.
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Jimmie Johnson to run the full 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series Season for Chip Ganassi



INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Jimmie Johnson is adding the full 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule to his racing activities for the upcoming year.

Johnson competed in 12-road and street course events for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 and finished the season by testing on the ovals at Texas Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The 2021 experience and oval tests only served to ignite Johnson’s passion to compete in ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’.

“I’m really excited about this next chapter of my career,” said Johnson. “The safety of these cars has come so far, and after I tested the ovals at Texas and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I realized this was a challenge I wanted to undertake.”

Online automobile retailer Carvana returns to sponsor Johnson and will be on the No. 48 Honda for the Indianapolis 500 and every race except Iowa, where associate sponsor the American Legion will be featured.

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“I can’t wait to be part of the Indianapolis 500, it’s a childhood dream come true,” said Johnson. “Last season was so incredible for me and I made a lot of progress, so I know I can be competitive on tracks that I have experience on.”

Team owner Chip Ganassi is equally fired-up to see Johnson get back behind the wheel of one of his race cars.

“I am looking forward to seeing Jimmie get back on the track after having a year under his belt,” said Ganassi. “With all the experience he has on ovals from his NASCAR career and adding it to his 2021 experience in an Indy car, we think the IndyCar ovals will play right into his strength. I can’t wait for the 2022 season to begin.”

An announcement on the role of Tony Kanaan, who drove the No. 48 Honda in the oval races in 2021, is expected after the Holidays.

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou Wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship



Chris Owens/INDYCAR

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!

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O’Ward brought out the caution flag a short time later on lap 20 when the right rear driveshaft failed on the front stretch.

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.

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Josef Newgarden wins pole position for INDYCAR Acura Long Beach Grand Prix



Chris Owens/INDYCAR

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.

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“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.

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