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Felix Rosenqvist leads opening practice at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg; Ganassi’s Armstrong 3rd quickest

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Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 8, 2024) Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist set the fastest lap of the first practice session of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.

Rosenqvist’s fast lap of 1:00:3380 (107.393 mph) was 0.4722 quicker than the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet of Pato O’Ward (100.8112/106.559).

“It was a really good run for us,” said Rosenqvist who added “everbody knows the Andretti package is good on the road and street circuits,” referring to their technical partnership with Andretti Global.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Armstrong was third quick in the No. 11 Ridegline Honda with a fast lap of 100.81822 (106.547 mph) followed by Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet (100.8408/106.547).

“While we were third-fastest, I think we can look through the data and find even more speed,” said Armstrong. “Tomorrow will be a different day and it will bring different temperatures and different ambient temperatures. We have some homework to do but we’re in a good spot for day one.”

The practice session included the whole field for the first 20-minutes followed by two 10-minute sessions of a split field.  Power said he approved of the new format.

“I don’t mind that,” said Power, who added “there’s more room on track and less backing up. I felt like overall the session was pretty good.”

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay rounded out the Top 5 in the No. 21 Chevrolet (100.8848/106.431).

Three Rivers Karting

Armstrong’s more experienced teammates Alex Palou, the two-time and defending series champion, finished the session P8 in the No. 10 DHL Honda with a quick lap of 1.01.0200 (106.195) around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit.

“It was a very good day with it being the first practice of the year in the new DHL Honda,” said Palou. “We obviously ran through some new stuff, not only as a team starting a new season, but with a new practice format, as well. We were focused on getting a lot of laps and it was nice out there without a ton of traffic. The car honestly felt pretty good. Of course, there is a lot of work to do as always, but it’s good to be back.”

Six-time Series Champion Scott Dixon finished P12 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda (1.01.0728/106.103).

“Today was quite interesting with the split sessions,” said Dixon. “We missed a bit and probably weren’t aggressive enough with the changes throughout those sessions, but we’re optimistic and hopeful that there is a lot of speed to come. Looking forward to another practice and qualifying tomorrow with the PNC Bank crew.”

Rookies Linus Lundqvist finished 18th (1.01.3377/105.645) in his inaugural outing in the No. 8 American Legion Be The One Honda and Kyffin Simpson ended the session P23 (1.01.7223/104.986) in the No. 4 Journie Rewards Honda.

“It was a great first practice and I was glad to run the most laps today, as that was one of the goals for this session,” said Lundqvist. “We are taking it step by step, but I feel that our Honda is in a pretty good place with the primary tires. When we went to the alternates, we didn’t kind quite get a quality run with the red flags that came out. But overall, we’re happy and I know the entire American Legion team will continue to work hard as we progress through the weekend.”

“It was great to drive an IndyCar for the first time and to do so here in St. Pete with the Journie Rewards crew,” said Simpson. “But, I thought it was a pretty tough session. I know our entire team will just continue to keep working, get as many laps in as we can and prepare for these upcoming sessions. I’m excited to get back on track tomorrow to continue learning and looking for more pace.”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to the track for Practice No. 2 Saturday morning at 9:35 a.m. followed by three rounds of knockout-style qualifying for the NTT P1 Award  from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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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