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CGR’s Alex Palou grabs podium finish at the Firestone Grand Prix as Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson score Top 10’s

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Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou scored a second place finish at the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“When you look at the result here today and where we started the weekend, I think all of the team did an amazing job of coming back and scoring the first podium of the year,” said Palou, the defending series Champion.

Palou started the weekend 17th after the first practice session and followed that up on Saturday by hitting the wall during the second practice before qualifying 10th for the race.

Palou was the highest finishing driver for the CGR brigade, which saw Scott Dixon bring the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda home in eighth place, Marcus Ericsson finish ninth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda and Jimmie Johnson finished 23rd in the No. 48 Carvana Honda.

Dixon started the race in seventh place on the red Firestone alternate tires and was one of the first cars to pit and change to the Firestone primary tires.  The strategy put Dixon on a 3-stop strategy, which ultimately didn’t play out in the end as race-winner Scott McLaughlin, Palou and everyone who finished ahead of him were on a 2-stop strategy.

Three Rivers Karting

“Definitely a rough day,” said Dixon. “Not sure why we went with the strategy that we did, it kind of put us in a big hole. The car felt really good, especially on the reds (Firestone alternate tires) early on. We were just kind of looking after it maintaining pace and then every time we needed clear track we caught lap cars or traffic or whatever, so no real flow to it. Definitely a bummer and not where the car should’ve finished I think.”

Ericsson started 8th and was running in the Top 5 when the first caution came out.  Ericsson was called to pit road for service and coming out of the pits Ericsson, Graham Rahal and Romain Grosjean were three-wide. The back end of Ericsson’s car made slight contact with Rahal’s car resulting in a penalty for ‘avoidable contact’.  Ericsson restarted at the tail end of the field.

“We got a really harsh penalty in my opinion,” said Ericsson. “It was really tight on pit lane, like it always is, and we had a bit of a touch. We got sent to the back but drove our way back into the Top 10 and finished P9.  Overall a good effort, we had the pace to be on the podium. We take the positives and try again in Texas.”

Jimmie Johnson had an up and down day in the No. 48 Carvana Honda.  Johnson started 26th, on the black Firestone primary tires, and worked his up to as high as 12th when the caution flag came out on Lap 25.  Johnson pitted for tires and the team elected to run the red Firestone alternate tires. Johnson paid the price for that decision as he dropped numerous positions as those tires wore out.

“I know the result doesn’t show it, 23rd, but I think that is a result of the poor qualifying effort I had,” said Johnson after the race. “Race pace was in the high-teens to the mid-teens and ran there at one point in the race, but by far the most comfortable I have felt in the car.”

The next race for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is the Xpel 375 at Texas Motor Speedway, March 20, 2022.

IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon wins pole position for 106th Indianapolis 500

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Penske Entertainment

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is on the pole position for the 106th Indianapolis 500. Dixon’s 4-lap average of 234.046 mph in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda was the second fastest qualifying average in the history of the event!

Dixon’s run broke the all-time pole record speed of 233.718 set in 1996 by Scott Brayton. Arie Luyendyk set the all-time four-lap qualifying average speed record of 236.986 in 1996, but his run came on the second day of qualifications and wasn’t eligible for the pole.

“When I saw the 234-seven after the first lap I thought, ‘this should be good’,” said Dixon. “The No. 9 PNC Bank team and Honda really brought it today.”

The Indianapolis 500 pole position was the second-straight, and fifth overall for Dixon, who trails only Rick Mears on the all-time Indy 500 pole position list.

“I’d rather have his four wins,” said Dixon of closing in on Mears pole record.

Palou, the defending series Champion, starts second in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda, giving CGR their first 1-2 start since Dixon and the late Dan Wheldon started on the front row in 2008.

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay will start third in the No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet.  VeeKay’s boss was the last back-to-back pole winner before Dixon.  Carpenter will start fourth.  “I don’t know that we could’ve trimmed even more,” said Carpenter. “The thing is on the limit.  The fourth lap just wasn’t good enough.”

All five of Chip Ganassi’s Honda’s will start in the Top 12 after the squad dominated qualifying.

Three Rivers Karting

The second row features CGR teammates Marcus Ericsson, who will start fifth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda, and 2013 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who will start sixth in the No. 1 American Legion Honda.

“I think my run was good,” said Ericsson. “I was hoping and thinking it was a bit faster than that but still it’s a great performance all week and we start from a really, really good spot next weekend.”

Arrow McLaren SP teammates Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist will start seventh and eighth respectively and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean rounds out row three.

The final row of the ‘Fast Twelve’ is made up of two-time 500 winner Takuma Sato of Dale Coyne Racing (10th), Team Penske’s Will Power (11th) and Indianapolis 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson, who will start 12th in the No. 48 Carvana Honda after the save of the day on his first lap of qualifying.

“To get five of our cars into the fast 12 and four into the (Firestone Fast) Six, I hope Chip has a smile on his face.,” said Dixon. “That definitely deserves a smile.”

Indy 500 Qualifying

 

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IndyCar

Indy 500 Qualifying moved up due to weather; Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan turns fastest 4-lap average in practice

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is moving the start of Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge qualifying to 11 a.m. (ET) Saturday, May 21 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to the potential of rain in the afternoon for the first day of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying.

Qualifying will run until its previously scheduled end time of 5:50 p.m., weather permitting, with starting spots 13 through 33 locked in for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The morning practice session also will be moved up, with group one on the 2.5-mile oval from 8:30-9 a.m. and group two from 9-9:30 a.m.

Three Rivers Karting

The revised schedule:

  • 8 a.m. – IMS Gates Open
  • 8:30-9 a.m. – Practice Group 1
  • 9-9:30 a.m. – Practice Group 2
  • 11 a.m. – PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying begins

Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing’s Takuma Sato turned the fastest lap on a tricky ‘Fast Friday’ that was complicated by windy conditions that kept many teams in the garages for the better part of the day.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan posted the fastest 4-lap qualifying simulation average of 230.517 mph in the No. 1 American Legion Honda.  Kanaan’s CGR teammates Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon posted the fourth and fifth fastest 4-lap averages.  Ericsson turned a 231.782 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda and Dixon a 231.530 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.

Peacock Premium will provide live coverage of both practice groups and the entire qualifying session, with the INDYCAR Radio Network also offering coverage. Public gates at IMS will open at their previously scheduled time of 8 a.m.

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Chip Ganassi’s cars fast as practice opens for the Indianapolis 500

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) is off to a quick start in preparations for the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.  Four of the five CGR Honda’s were in the Top 6 of the speed chart following Tuesday’s opening practice for ‘The Greatest Spectacle In Racing’, and all five were in the Top 10.

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon led the CGR squad posting a fast lap of 227.768 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.  Right behind Dixon in third was Indianapolis 500 rookie Jimmie Johnson, who’s fast lap was 227.722 in the No. 48 Carvana Honda.

“All in all, a really good day” said Johnson. “I feel like where we ended in this session gives me a lot of confidence for working forward.  It’s just trying to work through extremes for me. What is a low trim setting? What’s a high trim setting? What’s mechanically tight? What’s mechanically free? Just trying to work through some of those big-picture things.”

Marcus Ericsson was fourth at 227.094 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate CGR Honda.

“I think it was a very positive day for me and for the team,” said Ericsson. “We rolled off (the truck) with really good cars again and sort of continued our work that we did at the open test a few weeks ago.  Really, really happy with our progress and where our car is for the moment, a positive first day.”

Defending Series Champion Alex Palou was next on the charts, ending up sixth at 226.973 in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda.

Three Rivers Karting

“Felt really good to be honest,” said Palou. “The car is super-fast. We were just going through the plan.  I think all the Chip Ganassi Racing cars are super-fast. We’re looking good. A lot of work to do but we’re looking good so far.”

The fifth Ganassi entry, Tony Kanaan, was ninth quickest in the No. 1 American Legion Honda with a fast lap of 226.292.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato turned the fastest lap of the day, 228.939, in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing.

“We had a big tow,” Sato said. “In Happy Hour, if you have new tires, I think you can do that. I’m very happy with the 51 car. Dale Coyne Racing did a good job.”

Practice resumes from Noon-to-6 p.m. (ET) Wednesday (live on Peacock Premium), with PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying this Saturday and Sunday. The 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 29.

Tuesday AM 500 Practice  Tuesday Afternoon 500 Practice

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