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Chip Ganassi Racing begins quest for 15th INDYCAR Championship

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing begins its quest for a third-straight NTT INDYCAR SERIES title with this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.

The team is clearly capable having won 14-INDYCAR titles between 1996 and 2021.

Alex Palou enters 2022 as the defending series Champion and knows that he, and his team, are capable of going back-to-back, joining CGR Alums Alex Zanardi (1997 & 1998) and Dario Franchitti – who won back-to-back titles en route to 3-straight (2009, 2010, 2011) – as the only CGR drivers to accomplish that feat.

“It’s going to take a lot of work for sure,” said Palou. “I think the field is getting stronger and stronger in INDYCAR, the teams are getting closer so the competition is really, really high.  It’s going to be important to keep performing, even on the bad days. We kept the same team, almost all the mechanics, the engineering group on the 10-car so it should be a good year for us.”

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon says Palou’s title shows how strong and deep the Ganassi team is, which is reminiscent of when the team reeled off 4-straight titles – twice – from 1996-to-1999 and from 2008-thru-2011.

“To see Alex and the 10 car side, and the whole Ganassi group, be able to pull that off was great to see,” said Dixon, who again will pilot the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda. “It was great to see so many smiles, I think, throughout the team on all the team levels and the progression that we made. Hopefully we can carry that momentum through to this season and one of us have that opportunity to try and win for Chip again.”

Dixon’s mindset is always the same entering the season and it hasn’t changed in the two decades he’s been driving for the team.

“The first goal is to win the Indy 500, which has been difficult,” said Dixon, the 2008 winner of The Greatest Spectacle In Racing. “The second is to win the Championship. Last year was definitely trying at some points, and we lost a lot of points at the Indy 500 with double points, and it was very hard — nowadays especially with the competition, how tough it is, it’s very hard to claw back deficits like that.”

Marcus Ericsson enters his third year with the team and is coming off his first career victory in Detroit and followed that up with a victory in the inaugural Music City Grand Prix in Nashville.

Three Rivers Karting

“Last year was definitely kind of a breakthrough for me getting that first win out of the way, having a super strong season, a consistent season with a lot of top 10s, actually running in the top five for most of it there in the second half,” reflected Ericsson, who drives the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda.

Ericsson says one of the keys to the success of the team is the unselfishness of everyone involved.

“We have a very strong team,” said Ericsson. “We work so well together. I think that’s one of the reasons why we are so strong, is that we have all of us drivers in the team, me Scott and Alex, but also Jimmie and T.K. (Tony Kanaan). We are really working well together. We’re different characters, different personalities, but we all work really hard together and want to succeed as a team. I think that’s been getting the best out of each other last year. It was a big reason why we were so strong.”

Kanaan will run a fifth Ganassi entry, The American Legion Honda, at the Indianapolis 500 after driving the oval portion of the schedule in the No. 48 Honda that Jimmie Johnson drove on the road and street circuits in 2021.

Johnson is back and will drive the full season in the No. 48 Carvana Honda after a significant learning curve in 2021 after spending decades driving big, heavy, stock cars.

“I spent last year just trying to hitch my trailer to the back of the pack and keep up with everyone, and I was finally doing that at the end,” said Johnson. “I’m just eager to get more oval experience to try to sense and understand the car. I feel like I’ll be much more competitive on the ovals, and the faster I can learn the cars and sensations and adjustments, the better my chances will be at a podium or better yet.”

Johnson admitted that he needs to get settled in and just drive and react versus think and analyze every little detail.

“In some ways I just need to get out of my own head and hang it all out on the track,” said Johnson, who is looking forward to getting a second opportunity on tracks he’s only raced at once.

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag drops Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the race on NBC and hear the race on INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates and SiriusXM Channel 160.

IndyCar

INDYCAR Drivers Frustrated With Racing At Iowa Speedway

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Penske Entertainment: James Black

NEWTON, IA (July 14, 2024) – NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers feel something needs to be done to make the Hy-Vee Doubleheader weekend at Iowa Speedway as exciting on-track as it has been historically.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about the race and how it raced,” said Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren Racing, who finished second Friday night. “Really tough to get that second lane working, compared to I don’t know how many on-track passes we had last year, probably not even a 10th of that. That was a bit frustrating because I thought we had a very strong car, definitely a car that was capable of winning. Just no way to get around a car.”

In 2023 for race one there were 1,502 total passes, of which 319 were for position.  Conversely in race one of 2024 there were 192-total passes Saturday night, 100 of those were for position.

“Unfortunately I don’t think our car and our formula works super well for this type of track adjustment,” said Saturday night’s third place finisher Josef Newgarden about the partial track repave. “We’re different than a Cup car. We’ve developed our car differently than they have. It doesn’t always mesh. It definitely didn’t mesh tonight.”

Three Rivers Karting

“Bit of a shame that couldn’t really do anything to pass or to do anything,” said Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing, who finished second on Sunday. “It’s the most boring thing I’ve ever done. It was yesterday, as well. It’s a shame that we couldn’t really put on a better show. I think everybody will agree that it was a very boring race to drive.”

INDYCAR reduced downforce levels by about 450-pounds heading into the race weekend and tire supplier Firestone came with new right side tires after heat-related issues during a recent test session at the track.  The combination led to a parade-like race on Saturday and Sunday.

“I feel like we go into it and not do the right amount of study or whatnot to get it done and to get it to work,” said Saturday night’s winner Scott McLaughlin, who finished third on Sunday. “That’s not a shot at the sport, not a shot at anything. It’s working together with the amazing people and the geniuses we have up and down pit lane. It’s just a matter of making it work.”

“I think INDYCAR could go to work with downforce levels, working with Firestone on a few other things,” McLaughlin explained. “But you just can’t blame the track because at the end of the day they have to repave this at some time.”

“We went from the best oval race we would have all season to potentially the least amount of passing,” said Sunday’s winner Will Power.  “Maybe just a softer tire might just work with this downforce level. Just a softer tire. If it degrades, people go out. You can roll to the outside.  I don’t know what the answer is, but we certainly got to do something for next year.”

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IndyCar

Will Power Wins 2nd Race Of INDYCAR Doubleheader Weekend At Iowa

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

NEWTON, IA (July 14, 2024) Will Power is back in victory lane on an oval after winning Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade.  Power’s last oval win was nearly five years ago at Pocono Raceway.

“I didn’t really think I’d win today,” said Power.  “You know how life goes, it just happens like that. Yeah, been trying to win this one for a long time. Stoked to tick that box. I’ve won a lot of races at a lot of tracks. When you tick a box at a track you haven’t won on, it feels pretty good.”

Team Penske elected to leave Power’s No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, which started 22nd, out on the track during the first green-flag stint and it paid off because the caution flag came out for Augustin Canapino’s stalled car, allowing Power and Championship leader Alex Palou cycle to the front of the field.

“My plan from the beginning was to sit back and save a lot of fuel, just get the best possible number using the speed, lifting,” explained Power. “In that gap, prayed for a yellow because I knew there would be out-laps. That would be when people would be prone to mistakes. That’s exactly what happened.”

Power restarted the race in the 2nd position and followed Palou until the next round of pit stops.  Power’s team did not disappoint, beating Palou’s time by nine-tenths of a second, putting the two-time series Champion out front for the final 50-laps.

“I know if I hit my marks, it’s going to be an extremely fast stop,” said Power.

Three Rivers Karting

Palou rebounded from Saturday night’s crash to finish second and retain the Championship points lead, 35-over Power, who sits second.

“It’s been a weekend where we had a ton of speed compared to what we had before with qualifying third and second,” said Palou. “Was a shame yesterday obviously with the pit stall on the first pit, then the crash during the second stint.  Yeah, happy that today we’re in second.”

Saturday night’s winner Scott McLaughlin finished third after starting on the pole and getting caught by the caution flag that benefitted Power and Palou.

“I was on the undercut,” explained McLaughlin. “At the end of the day, I mean, I would have come out in front of Alex. Will would have had to pit in a couple laps’ time. That’s just how it rolls, man. I’ve won a race by a delayed yellow. I’ve lost a race now. It’s just part of the deal. I think everyone will have one or two of those in their career.”

Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon finished fourth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing while Colton Herta fifth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Andretti Global w/Curb-Agajanian.

The series next race is on the Street of Toronto for the Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto.  Practice begins Friday at 3 p.m. ET at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Iowa Race 2 Results

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IndyCar

Scott McLaughlin Wins 1st Race Of INDYCAR Iowa Doubleheader Weekend

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Penske Entertainment: Travis Hinkle

NEWTON, IA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin is now a winner on an oval after grabbing the victory in Saturday night’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart.

McLaughlin started alongside pole-sitter Colton Herta of Andretti Global and grabbed the lead beating everyone out of the pits after a caution flag on Lap 80 when Graham Rahal’s No. 15 One Cure Honda suffered a cracked wheel.

McLaughlin led the final 164-laps and held off Arrow McLaren’s Patricio O’Ward, who finished second and Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden who finished third.

“At the end of the day I did the job in some ways from my perspective, but it was a team win,” said McLaughlin. “They put me out in front and got me the lead. I was able to show how good our car was just controlling the pace at the front.”

Great pit work from O’Ward’s number 5 crew got him out the pits in second place late in the race giving him a chance to challenge McLaughlin for the win.

“Yeah, awesome job by the guys in the pits,” said O’Ward. “That’s truly what got us in this position to fight for the podium.”

O’Ward was frustrated that the race track ended up being aa one groove track after a recent repave and despite INDYCAR dedicating a practice session to trying to rubber-in the second groove.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about the race and how it raced. Really tough to get that second lane working,” explained O’Ward, who keeps moving up in the Championship fight. “Compared to I don’t know how many on-track passes we had last year, probably not even a 10th of that. That was a bit frustrating because I thought we had a very strong car, definitely a car that was capable of winning. Just no way to get around a car.”

Three Rivers Karting

For the record, there were 192-total passes Saturday night, 100 of those were for position.  Comparatively there were 1,502 total passes in race one at Iowa in 2023, 319 for position.

A driver who didn’t have a problem making any passes was Newgarden, who started 22nd after a lackluster qualifying effort.  Newgarden grabbed eight spots at the drop of the green flag by using the high line and making passes in the pits.

“It was a great recovery by the team,” said Newgarden. “My goodness, they were really good in the pits, like really, really good. If Pato’s guys were good, mine must have been double as good. I made up probably 80% of my position in the pits tonight.”

Championship leader Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing had trouble in the pits for the second straight week.  Palou stalled the No. 10 DHL Honda on the first pit stop, dropping from third place to 19th place.

Palou quickly regained six places and threw it all away on Lap 176 when he lost control on the frontstretch and backed it into the outside wall.  The miscue relegated Palou to a 23rd place finish, his worst in two-plus years, a span of 36 races, when he finished 27th in the 2022 race at Road America.

Palou’s finish cost him 11-points in the title fight.  Palou now leads O’Ward by 37-points with Team Penske’s Will Power sitting third, 43-points out of the leads.  Six-time Series Champion Scott Dixon remained in fourth, 46-points back.  The victory vaulted McLaughlin to fifth, 59-points out of first.

Race 2 of the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade takes place tomorrow at noon ET, live on NBC, Peacock and INDYCAR Radio Network.  McLaughlin will start on the pole after setting a new track record in qualifying.

Iowa Race One Results

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