RACE 14 AND FINAL OF 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES:
DETROIT (Oct. 23, 2020) — After almost a seven-and-a-half-month wait, the Chevrolet powered teams and drivers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES face the challenges of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg temporary street circuit for the final race of the 2020 season. Team Chevy driver and reigning series champion Josef Newgarden, No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, sits 32 points down to Scott Dixon in his pursuit of a third title. While Newgarden is facing a challenge to overcome the difference, it is not out of the realm of possibility for the Nashville native. “Feeling good. Ready to go,” said Newgarden, who has recorded three victories. “I feel like we’re definitely prepped and ready to rock for the weekend. Just going there to try to win the race. That’s really all I can do. “I love on the fact sheet, I saw this put out, it was like 20,000 scenarios, 1% of the scenarios means we can win the championship. You’re saying there’s a chance and that’s all we need. It’s going to be an exciting weekend. We’ll see how it shakes out. We’re just going to go into our thing, see where everything lands at the end of it.” Newgarden has the history on the streets of St. Pete to back up his confidence. In 2019, he started second on the grid and won the race. In eight starts, he has stood on the podium twice. He has finished 86% of the possible laps, and led several times for 60 laps. Meanwhile, Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Sonax Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, will clinch the INDYCAR Rookie of the Year Award by taking the green flag for the 100-lap/180-mile race. The title is the first for Ed Carpenter Racing, and only the third for Chevrolet since the award began in 1979, the previous two coming in 1990 and 1992. A first-time addition to the Chevrolet team roster will be three-time Australian SuperCar Champion Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Chevrolet from the Team Penske stable. After testing at Circuit of the Americas in the spring, McLaughlin was ready to make his debut much earlier in the season. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced his schedule to be substantially altered.
FAN VIEWING AND LISTENINGNBC Sports Gold livestreaming: Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session at 10:55 a.m.ET and Firestone Fast Six qualifying at 3:05 p.m.ET will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports direct-to-consumer livestreaming product. Qualifying will also broadcast tape-delayed on NBCSN at 8:00 p.m. ET
Sunday pre-race warm-up will stream live NBC Sports Gold starting at 10:40 a,m, ET.
The race will broadcast live on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Octoer 25. Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, qualifying and races are broadcast live on Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA.
AT-TRACK SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES LOCAL)Saturday, Oct. 2410:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice #1, NBC Sports Gold3-4:20 p.m.: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg qualifying (Three rounds of knockout qualifications), NBC Sports Gold (live); NBCSN (Tape delayed at 8 p.m.)4:25 p.m.: NTT P1 Award Presentation (pit lane)Sunday, Oct. 2510:40-11:10 a.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES warm-up, NBC Sports Gold2:27 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”2:30 p.m.: NBC on air2:32 p.m.: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (100 laps/180 miles), NBC (live) BOWTIE BULLETS:
- Chevrolet drivers have won six of the eight races held on the Streets of St. Petersburg since 2012 – Josef Newgarden won in 2019, and picked the win in tthe Indy Lights Series in 2011
- Josef Newgarden is second in points, 32 points behind leader; Will Power is fourth in the standings, Pato O’Ward is fifth in points, and Simon Pagenaud is eighth in the standings
- Oliver Askew will return to the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, Sebastien Bourdais will be in the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet and Scott McLaughlin in the No.3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Team Penske Chevrolet
- Power is the second all-time INDYCAR pole winner with 61 (behind only Mario Andretti with 67).
- Rinus VeeKay won the St. Pete Indy Lights race 2019, and Pato O’Ward won the Indy Lights race in 2018
- Since returning to INDYCAR manufacturer competition in 2012, Chevrolet has amassed 88 wins in 148 races—59.4% along with six Manufacturer Championships and six driver championships. Bowtie drivers have earned 98 poles and started in the No. 1 position on the INDYCAR grid 103 times
QUOTABLE QUOTES: ROB BUCKNER, CHEVROLET RACING ENGINEERING PROGRAM MANAGER FOR THE NTT INDYCAR SERIES: “We made it to the finale. It has been an at times difficult season, but also have had some very rewarding results. We head to the Streets of St. Pete with Josef Newgarden fighting hard for another championship, and Rinus VeeKay ready to clinch the INDYCAR Rookie-of-the-Year title. I am so proud of the cooperative efforts from our technical partners and all of the Chevrolet powered teams to keep moving the ball forward through some trying moments, logistical difficulties and always following the strictest of protocols to keep everyone as safe as possible during this pandemic. We are all looking forward to the positive possibilities ahead in 2021.”
FROM THE COCKPIT: JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 1 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: “It really all comes down to this weekend. It’s been a year where the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet and our team have been through a lot, from success to dealing with mistakes to just the victim of bad timing. But none of that matters headed into this weekend. We either win the championship or we don’t. My Hitachi Chevy team has put everything they have into this season, and they plan to keep working hard through the race weekend. It’s going to certainly be a tough battle with Scott Dixon this weekend because he has been so strong and consistent all year. We can’t afford to make mistakes, so strategy and execution will be critical. We feel really good with the momentum we have right now, but you can never count out a guy like Dixon. I’m also excited that Scott McLaughlin will be joining us this weekend for his first-ever INDYCAR race. He was so fast at the spring training test at COTA earlier this year, so it’s going to be really great to see how he does in the mix for a race.”
SCOTT McLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 SHELL V-POWER NITRO+TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET: “I’m super pumped to finally get a crack at my first INDYCAR race. Feels like it’s been years since I was part of spring training, but due to COVID-19, we had to hold off. But hey, sometimes the best things are definitely worth the wait. It’s a dream come true to be running an INDYCAR race for Team Penske and Roger (Penske), especially coming off of such a successful Supercars season. I’ve been trying to get to know my team as well as possible virtually for a few months now, so it’s been great being able to see everyone in person and work with them. I spent some time last week running in the simulator as much as I could and spent some time at the race shop, as well, to prepare for this weekend. It was a quick turnaround from Bathurst since I flew to Charlotte immediately after, so I’ve definitely been moving at a fast but really exciting pace just to get to this weekend. The Shell V-Power Nitro+ Chevy team is such a talented group, so I feel like I’m going to be a quick study and learn a lot really fast.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL, NO. 4 TRESIBA AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET: “I’m excited for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as we got some good preseason running at Sebring on the street circuit tire, so we have a baseline to evolve heading to Florida. To succeed, we are going to have to maximize that baseline and follow the track as it rubbers in during practice. It’s hard to pass and while qualifying is always important, it becomes critical on a street circuit. Having had experience with the car and me all year, the team at AJ Foyt Racing has been working hard to make sure we finish the year on a high note. Typically, as the first race of the year, St. Pete usually feels a bit like the first day of school, but this year it’s going to be where INDYCAR crowns a champion and be the last day of school!”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET: “I’ve been waiting for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for a while. It’s a venue that I really enjoy going to, not only because the track is cool but because the whole city is very enjoyable, as well. I’m really looking forward to closing out the season with a strong result. I want to thank everyone involved who made my first full season in INDYCAR an incredible one: everyone at the Arrow McLaren SP, Arrow Electronics, McLaren, INDYCAR, Chevrolet, all of our other amazing partners, and most importantly — the fans.”
OLIVER ASKEW, NO. 7 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET:“I appreciate all the support Arrow McLaren SP has given me through this difficult time. I would like to thank Dr. Billows and the INDYCAR Medical Team, as well as Dr. Collins and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, for their advice and care, which allowed me to take the time I needed to fully recover and prepare for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES finale. I’m looking forward to a strong finish to the season in St. Pete.
“WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:“Indianapolis was incredible. Winning the pole and the race just brought so much good energy to the Verizon Chevy team. It’s a shame we had so much bad luck and made some mistakes earlier this season, but we’ve been getting stronger since Mid-Ohio, and I think the team has really come together. We’ve been out of contention for the championship for a few races now, so we are fully focused on just getting more race wins. St. Pete is such a technical street course, so it can be really fun to race. Actually, it will end up being the only street race we raced on in 2020. We’ve had some races this year with fans, and I’m glad we’ll have a good number of fans back at St. Pete. I’m also looking forward to Scott McLaughlin joining us to race at St. Pete. He’s been working hard preparing for the weekend while also having just won another Supercars championship in Australia. He was really fast at the COTA test, so I think he will be really strong this weekend even though it’s his first INDYCAR race. It’s really going to be a fun weekend.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 14 AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET: “Quite excited for the Firestone GP here in St. Pete, as it’s always great to run in front of friends and family at home. It’s definitely a race that we’re quite a bit better prepared for than the Harvest Indy GP but still kind of keeping the expectations in check. You never know what comes around the corner. I hope what we learned about the No. 14 Chevrolet at Sebring will transfer well for the St. Pete track. We’re looking forward to a good weekend. The weather’s going to be nice, and we’ll keep learning and hope to have some good successes.”
CONOR DALY, NO. 20 U.S. AIR FORCE ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET: “It’s pretty hard to believe my first street course with Ed Carpenter Racing will be in October. It has been a decade since I last won in St. Pete in the Pro Mazda championship, which is wild to think about. Love the track, love the city, love the event. We obviously want to finish strong for the U.S. Air Force, Chevrolet and all of the incredible people that have worked so hard for us all year long. I’m very excited to get down there and get going.”
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 SONAX ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET: “It will be so nice to come back to St. Petersburg. We are finally returning after being there earlier this year, but we were not able to race. Hopefully, I can secure my Rookie of the Year title; it will be a very nice achievement. I am really looking forward to the race. First street course race of the season as the last race, that’s very cool. I’ve always had good races in St. Pete in the Road to Indy, and I cannot wait to hustle around there with an Indy car.”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 22 DXC TECHNOLOGY TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:“I cannot wait for St. Petersburg. First off, we are ecstatic to host our fans back at the racetrack and continue to give them the best racing there is. We finished on a high note in Indianapolis GP with my No. 22 Menards Chevy crew being fastest on pit lane on day one and collecting the fastest lap of Race 2. The new weekend format has been very difficult, with less practice and less chances to get the right balance on the car. I’m ready to take on the challenge again with spirit. St. Petersburg is a street course that I really enjoy, as street courses are my specialty. We will give a 100 percent and attempt to execute on the last race weekend of 2020.”
MAX CHILTON, NO. 59 GALLAGHER CARLIN CHEVROLET: “It’s crazy to think that we’re heading back to St. Pete, where it all started, to finish out the 2020 season. I love racing on the streets of St. Petersburg, and I’m so thankful that everyone at INDYCAR and the track could work together insuch a difficult situation to bring us back for the finale. It’s a really physical track and the race itself is so demanding, but then at the end of the day, the Firestone Grand Prix is always a great one, not only for us as drivers but also for the fans watching at home and in person. We’ve made some big strides forward as a team, and I’m really hoping we can close out this season with a top-10 finish.”
Chevrolet INDYCAR Series Statistics
- Chevrolet has recorded six NTT IndyCar Series Manufacturer Championships since returning to manufacturer competition in 2012.
- Chevrolet earned six consecutive CART Manufacturers’ Cup championships from 1988-93.
- Chevrolet has recorded 12 driver championships, including four in the past five years and six total since returning to INDYCAR competition in 2012 with the2.2 liter V6 twin turbocharged direct injected engine
- Chevrolet has recorded 198 wins in Indy-style racing, including USAC, CART, Indy Racing League and IndyCar Series since 1965. The first victory for Chevy power was Bobby Unser in the 1966 Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb.
- Chevrolet has 88 wins in 148 races(59.4%) in IndyCar Series races since returning to manufacturer competition in 2012.