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Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Post Race Report and ‘What They are Saying’

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Oct. 25, 2020) – Josef Newgarden went down swinging.

Newgarden won a wild, unpredictable NTT INDYCAR SERIES season finale, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet amid a head-to-head showdown with Scott Dixon for the series championship.

Still, the winning performance wasn’t enough for Newgarden. Dixon finished third to seal his sixth INDYCAR championship by just 16 points over defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Newgarden after leading the season wire-to-wire in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon’s stellar 2020 season also helped Honda win the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Manufacturers’ Championship.

CLICK IT: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg results

“It’s never just one thing or one person,” Dixon said. “For me, it’s about the team effort. We had a lot of changes in the offseason. Credit to Josef (Newgarden) and Team Penske. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly and a lot points, so that was pretty awesome to race them again. And we know next year is going to be the same, but huge thanks again to everyone on the team.”

Dixon, who won four times this season, including the first three races of the season, now sits just one title behind the all-time INDYCAR record of seven championships, set by the legendary A.J. Foyt. The championship is the 13th for Chip Ganassi Racing and its second in the last three years. Dixon, 40, who last won the title in 2018, became the first INDYCAR champion age 40 or older since Nigel Mansell in 1993.

“Well, six is good. Seven is better,” Dixon said. “That’s going to be the goal. But it’s tough. As you can see from the competition, even if you mess up just a little bit in qualifying, we had some problems this weekend and just couldn’t piece it together. Credit again to the team and just being able to pull ourselves out of that hole and stay consistent and just have a smooth race, and that’s what we did.”

Newgarden made an impressive charge from eighth on the starting grid to the lead for the first time on a Lap 80 restart in the 100-lap race as he did all he could to win back-to-back titles. Colton Herta led the field to green in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda on the restart, but he came under pressure from Alex Palou in St. Pete’s tricky Turn 1.

Palou briefly took the lead from Herta in the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda before Newgarden made a daring move for the lead heading toward Turn 2, knowing that he had to do everything in his power to try to take the title from Dixon.

Newgarden withstood one more restart and immense pressure from Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet over the final 20 laps on his way to securing his fourth win of the season. O’Ward ended up second, 4.1409 seconds behind Newgarden.

With the win, Newgarden continued a trend of back-to-back winners on the streets of St. Petersburg. Since 2015, the race has been won back-to-back by three drivers. Juan Pablo Montoya won the race in 2015-16, Sebastien Bourdais won in 2017-18 and Newgarden won the race in 2019-20.

“No doubt, we didn’t need a full green race, so that played into our favor today,” Newgarden said of the hectic race that included six cautions. “We had the flow of the race we needed, but it wasn’t anything they gave us. We had a solid day. We needed to be fairly quick. I think we had a fairly quick car, and we just had to make some moves. That’s all we could do to try and get to the front. We outlasted everybody and did what we needed to do. We knew coming into this that fate wasn’t in our own hands. We weren’t going to be able to decide things. So, we just did what we could and hoped for the best.

“It’s definitely bittersweet. First off, congratulations to Scott and all his guys, his crew. It’s big time to win six championships. I’m sure they’re thrilled. They’re a great competitor. On one hand, I don’t really know what I could do different this year. I don’t know what I could ask my guys to do different. They were flawless. Fastest in the pits all year long. I’m extremely proud to drive for my team.”

O’Ward’s second-place finish punctuated a strong first full season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. Mexican driver O’Ward ended up fourth in the championship standings behind Dixon, Newgarden and Herta.

Bourdais crossed the line fourth in the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet in just his third race with the team before making a full-season effort in the No. 14 in 2021, and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

The dramatic conclusion to the season marked the 15th consecutive season that the INDYCAR championship battle came down to the final race.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Rinus VeeKay easily won the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year award. VeeKay, driver of the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, clinched the title simply by starting the race.

Dutch driver VeeKay didn’t have a day indicative of his season. On Lap 47, he collided with rookie Scott McLaughlin in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Chevrolet in Turn 1. McLaughlin made contact with Marco Andretti in the No. 98 Curb / AutoNation Honda and spun around, and VeeKay had nowhere to go, hitting the front of McLaughlin’s car.

McLaughlin, who was unveiled Friday as a full-time INDYCAR driver in 2021 with Team Penske, was forced to retire from the race and finished 22nd. VeeKay lost two laps and finished 15th. VeeKay announced Sunday morning he will return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2021.

The only street course on the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a dramatic race from start to finish that was not generous to the strongest cars in the field.

Pole sitter Will Power led the first five laps in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, but a downshifting issue allowed Alexander Rossi to take the lead in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda as 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power slowed on Lap 6.

On Lap 36, two-time St. Petersburg winner Power got loose exiting Turn 3 while running fourth and hit the wall. Power pulled off the course in Turn 4, ending his day and finishing 24th.

From there, 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Rossi dominated the race, leading all but five laps by the time disaster struck on Lap 70.

After pitting from the lead on Lap 66, Rossi was pushing his Andretti Autosport Honda as he waited for green flag pit stops to cycle through. Then, exiting Turn 4, Rossi lost control and hit the inside wall with the front and rear of the car. Rossi finished 21st.

“I just lost it in Turn 3, man,” said Rossi, who was looking to end the season with four consecutive podium finishes. “It’s been tough all weekend. Just human error. Hugely unfortunate. I think the No. 27 AutoNation Andretti Honda guys were phenomenal. Andretti Autosport was phenomenal all weekend. It’s the first time it’s happened to me, to crash from the lead. I don’t know what to say other than sorry to the boys, and we’ll come back next year.”

Trouble also struck Rossi’s Andretti Autosport teammates late in the race. Herta, who ran second most of the race and led as late as Lap 79, overshot corners twice in the race, including once in the final run to the finish. Herta finished 11th but ended the season third in the championship standings.

Meanwhile, James Hinchcliffe, who drove the final three races in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, ran in the top five all race long until losing control of his car in Turn 14 under caution with just under 25 laps to go. Hinchcliffe damaged his front wing after contact with Jack Harvey in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda and finished a disappointing 14th.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will enter a brief offseason before the green flag waves on the 2021 season at the same place this year ended: the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 7, 2021.


‘What They’re Saying’ from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

1st – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s definitely bittersweet. First off, congratulations to Scott (Dixon) and all his guys, his crew. It’s big time to win six championships. I’m sure they’re thrilled. They’re a great competitor. On one hand, I don’t really know what I could do different this year. I don’t know what I could ask my guys to do different. They were flawless. Fastest in the pits all year long. I’m extremely proud to drive for my team. Not just our car, but all the teams combined, all the engineers, all the mechanics – we have an incredible crew that puts in a lot of work. We just came up short. That’s all it is. We weren’t good enough. We’ll reset. We’ll hit them harder next year. I promise you we’ll be in the fight; this crew will be in the fight every year. So, I have confidence we’ll come back. So, thank you to Hitachi, Team Chevy. Team Chevy was the engine to beat today and all year long, so big credit to them. Just a little short on points. We’ll come back and hit them harder next year.” (About strategy amid a chaotic race): “No doubt, we didn’t need a full green race, so that played into our favor today. We had the flow of the race we needed, but it wasn’t anything they gave us. We had a solid day. We needed to be fairly quick. I think we had a fairly quick car, and we just had to make some moves. That’s all we could do to try and get to the front. We outlasted everybody and did what we needed to do. We knew coming into this that fate wasn’t in our own hands. We weren’t going to be able to decide things. So, we just did what we could and hoped for the best.” (About racing Pato O’Ward): “This is one of the future stars of INDYCAR. He’s already a star of INDYCAR. I’m a huge Pato fan, so it was fun to race him. He’s driven me so clean. Even when it was very difficult at the end of the race, all of the pickup on the tires, it was tough to clean off, he’s just a great competitor. I’ve really loved driving against him.”

2nd – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I’m so proud of Arrow McLaren SP and myself for what we accomplished this year. Our win will have to wait. We came in second place in the season finale, just five points short of third place in the championship. We have lots to be proud of. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that I got. I think we showcased that we are a force to be reckoned with, and we are going to be pushing next year to give these veterans a harder time. Hopefully bring it to the last race and win this championship.”

3rd – SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s all the team. I can’t thank everybody on this team enough. Obviously, Chip (Ganassi), Mike (Hull) and Barry (Wanser) and everybody involved – obviously, Honda. I’m proud to be powered by Honda and what they’ve been able to pull out this year given the deficit we’ve had going into Indy previous years. They nailed it. Big thanks to everybody. My family – I’m glad my girls are here. (Wife) Emma is somewhere. Unfortunately (toddler son) Kit isn’t here. It’s a big shame that he wouldn’t be here. I can’t thank everybody enough. PNC Bank, two out of three years (as champion) – that’s pretty good going.” (About tough discussions during offseason after losing title last year): “It’s never just one thing or one person. For me, it’s about the team effort. We had a lot of changes in the offseason. Credit to Josef (Newgarden) and Team Penske. They drove the last part of the season flawlessly and a lot points, so that was pretty awesome to race them again. And we know next year is going to be the same, but huge thanks again to everyone on the team. Now we’re going to have a beer.” (About thinking of winning a seventh title to tie A.J. Foyt): “Well, six is good. Seven is better. That’s going to be the goal. But it’s tough. As you can see from the competition, even if you mess up just a little bit in qualifying, we had some problems this weekend and just couldn’t piece it together. Credit again to the team and just being able to pull ourselves out of that hole and stay consistent and just have a smooth race, and that’s what we did. We definitely had the speed when we needed to push. Credit to Josef. He drove a hell of a race there and put us under a lot of pressure.”

4th – SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Well, what a race. I’m super happy for the 14 team AJ Foyt Racing and Chevrolet. Those guys were on the cusp the whole time, and we were fighting for a million dollars today. We had things under control, and then it seemed to slip away and finishing fourth in some pretty incredible situations there at the end with a car that was legitimately fast. So, really happy that we could finish the season on a high like that and looking forward to 2021.”

5th – RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Despite our starting position, we had a really positive day. We came through the field twice to finish fifth. I’m proud of the DHL boys both on the track and in pit lane today. It’s nice to have a top five to finish the season, but we thought we could have more than that with our pace. We’ll regroup and come back stronger in March.”

6th – SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “That was a good finish for the Menards Chevrolet. It was survival of the fittest out there today. At one point, I said on the radio that there could be many, many more cautions, and there was. We just couldn’t get in a race rhythm. But we were able take advantage of all those other people’s mistakes and put ourselves in position to have a good finish. All weekend, the car was really good – I think it was better than even sixth, where we finished. But I’m pretty excited to build upon this for next year. All in all, good weekend. It was also good to see the fans back at the track. We finished St. Pete, just a few months after the fact.”

7th – MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a very busy race, with so much going on. We had so many cautions and restarts. We have a super-fast car, so I was making spots and we were aggressive on the strategy. Throughout the race, we were so unlucky with every caution. Every yellow that came out was basically on the wrong time for us. I think I overtook some guys three or four times. We were unlucky, but to manage to get away and up to P7 was still a great result. I was very happy with my performance and the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda crew’s performance. I think we went out on a high with this last race, but we were very unlucky with the yellows. Big congrats to Scott (Dixon). He’s an amazing driver, and his sixth championship win is well deserved.”

8th – CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Well, today the Grand Prix of St Petersburg was a success for AJ Foyt Racing. For us, the No 4 Tresiba Chevrolet coming from a not-optimum qualifying in 20th all the way through to eighth, so much credit goes to the guys in pit lane — great pit stops. They’ve had great pit stops all year. They’re in the top 10 as far as the pit stop championship among all the teams in pit lane. So, much credit to them, credit to the engineers here and at home working to make the car better and better. Just had to put the laps in at the end. Got a little tight a couple of times, banged off a few people, but that’s street racing in INDYCAR. It’s nice to have a double top-10 to finish out 2020, which has been tough, strange and challenging in so many ways.”

9th – GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “That was a bruiser. Thank you so much to our sponsors for another season. Once again, we finished every lap today and raised $5,000 and will crest $110,000 this year for Turns for Troops, so I ‘m very proud of that. I’m proud of our year. Today was another competitive day. We got unlucky with that yellow. Our strategy was working great, and our car was fast, as we showed. That yellow really put a damper on our day. It took us from being quite strong to being mired back in the field. I’m proud of our organization. Our guys worked awfully hard this year. I want to thank the fans for their support and for sticking with INDYCAR racing this year. Let’s come back in 2021 and make this sport grow even more. We love putting on a good show for you, so thank you for all your support. Now it’s time for me to go home and have a kid. Well, not me. My wife, us.”

10th – TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Honda): “It was a tough race, but it was good to be back in St. Petersburg. At one stage, we were sixth, so a top-five finish was possible. But we were involved with two Andretti cars in an incident. Obviously, we were bumping each other a little bit, but unfortunately I got a penalty for avoidable contact, so I had to go back in the queue, which essentially finished my race. But we came back to a top 10, which was good just finishing with Graham (Rahal). What an amazing season. Once again, thank you everyone, thank you Eddie (Jones, race engineer) and the 30 boys. RLL did a great, great job. I’m proud to be working with the team again for 2021. It was my best season ranking, but I wanted to finish a little higher today. Nevertheless, I think it was a fantastic season. See you all in 2021.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):

MARCO ANDRETTI (20th – No. 98 AutoNation/Curb Honda): “I drove my absolutely heart out. We were in a position and would have maybe gained more positions. We were in the money, so to say. I left room to the apex, and I think I just got tagged. We got a flat, and then it was all down from there. We were so much faster; I just can’t believe we are in this position. I’ve never seen a season like we’ve had this year with the misfortunes. Some of it is luck, and some of it is not. We need to work to fix the things that are not. The prep for 2021 starts now.”

OLIVER ASKEW (16th – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We had a really strong weekend up until the second half of the race. We were heading for a top-10 finish until I got taken out. It’s a bummer we couldn’t get a positive result in our final race with Arrow McLaren SP, but I think I showed the rest of the series what I can do. I want to thank the entire team for all the hard work they have put in this year and support they have given me.”

MAX CHILTON (12th – No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “That felt like the longest INDYCAR race I’ve ever done apart from the ‘500.’ It was just unbelievably long and challenging. The tires were the hardest we’ve ever used, and I don’t think I was the only one struggling with them. There were multiple good drivers spinning out and crashing during the race. We didn’t have the pace all day, but then we sort of lucked into a good bit of strategy. I was fired up, but we just couldn’t get the tire temps up. Every time I exited the last corner, I got eaten alive. Apart from that, I held my position, so I kind of feel like we had a top-10 taken away from us. I can honestly say that I gave it 100 percent and did my best, and the guys did a great job in the pits. It’s disappointing to not get a top 10 here this weekend because that was our target, but we were able to come from the back and make up 12 spots, so we’ll take that as a massive positive into the offseason.”

CONOR DALY (17th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “I am definitely guilty of making a big mistake under yellow. Rinus (VeeKay) came out of the pits quite quick right in front of us, and everyone just stopped all of a sudden around the next corner. When the tires were cold, they were like ice. As soon as they locked up, I had nowhere to go. The U.S. Air Force Chevrolet was really fast, which was good. We made some great progress on the race setup. Even after the contact, the car was still fast, so that was really encouraging.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (23rd – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “We had a fantastic start to the race. We had the SealMaster Honda up to 14th, then 13th . We just kept racing along. We came out of the pits after a really good, super-fast pit stop and had contact going into Turn 4 when another car came from the outside and hit us. The contact did slight damage to the car. During the next stint, I unfortunately clipped the inside wall. When we went to do the restart, the front suspension let go, and my car went straight into the wall. Obviously, I’m disappointed about today. However, I want to thank the team for all the hard work and our partners for all their support during this unique season.”

JACK HARVEY (19th – No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “That race pretty much just summed up our year. We’ve had so much pace all year, and every time something happens that knocks us down, we’ve been way inside the top 10. I feel like the team deserves to be seventh or eighth in points. I feel like that’s where I deserve to be as a driver, so it’s a super-disappointing day. The ramifications of what James (Hinchcliffe) did by waiting and choosing the wrong time to come back out on track are huge, and it cost us a lot in the championship.”

COLTON HERTA (11th – No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “I’m fairly upset with my performance on track today, but I think throughout the year we did a really good job. I’m really happy to finish P3 in the championship, and hopefully we can carry some of that momentum into next year. But for St. Pete, obviously pretty upset with how it went. I think we had a pretty good shot at a win, and I just messed it up. I’m sorry to guys about that, but overall happy with how the 88 team performed this year.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (14th – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “In 16 years of racing cars, I’ve never spun out under caution before. Just my fault. The pace car was going really, really slow, and it was super hard to keep heat in the tires. Going through the last corner there, I was making an adjustment on the wheel and just had one hand on the wheel. Even at 30 mph, you’re going slower than pit lane speed, and the thing spun. It’s my fault, but we were on the radio trying to get the pace car to go faster because the cars were almost harder to drive at pace car speed than they were at race speed. But that’s on me. The worst part is that coming back on track, I did it dangerously and not only hit someone but hit a (Andretti Technologies) teammate. That’s an even bigger black eye. To have a podium car – the guys did such a great job all weekend on the Gainbridge entry, and I was really hoping to give them a strong result to end the year. I’m gutted for the whole team; I’m gutted for Jack (Harvey) – can’t be sorrier than I am for him. Not the way we wanted to end the year, but still some positives to take out of it. We had good pace in qualifying and the race. We had a podium car and just didn’t pull it off today, and that’s on me. Sorry to the team.”

SCOTT McLAUGHLIN (22nd – No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Chevrolet): “What a day. The best day of my life, except for my wedding. The Shell V-Power Nitro+ INDYCAR was going really well. Then I just made a move trying to block Marco (Andretti). Then I felt like I made a half of a rear lock, but I’m not exactly sure. Cold tires caught me out a little bit. But I had a lot of fun today. I just can’t thank my guys, Roger (Penske), Tim (Cindric), Shell V-Power and the entire organization for the weekend. It was so much fun. I wish the 2021 season was starting tomorrow. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of this car.”

ALEX PALOU (13th – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “We didn’t have a good start because I made a mistake staying in our fuel saving map, so that sent us back a few spots. It’s so difficult to overtake here, so as soon as the yellow came out, we gambled a bit with our strategy. At the end of the day it didn’t work out, but it was the right thing to do. I think we needed another yellow to be able to finish in the top five with our Guaranteed Rate Honda. We did the best we could today. I’m sad that it’s the end of the season. Looking back, there were some good moments and some not-so-good moments. I think it was a tough season, in general, with the limited practice to learn the tracks and understand the car, but it was a great learning experience that will hopefully help for the future.”

WILL POWER (24th – No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I just lost it. The rear bottomed, and I just had a moment. Earlier in the race, the Verizon Chevrolet didn’t downshift for some reason. It did it a couple of times. Then I started downshifting really early. I don’t know what happened or if that caused any of our issues. It just didn’t go down gears, and that is how (Alexander) Rossi got me, and then (Colton) Herta attacked for position. But I’m just frustrated with me making a mistake and hitting the wall. The car got loose, and it’s just so very, very frustrating. I shouldn’t be the one crashing. My bad for putting us out of the race.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (18th – No. 10 NTT Honda): “We didn’t get off to a good start. We went a little bit off strategy. We got back into the race a little bit, but (Santino) Ferrucci coming out of the pits locked up and drove into my rear tire. We got a puncture and fell a lap behind. Then, with all of the cautions, I worked my way into the lead lap. We had a lot of cautions and restarts, and we got up to P8. Then, Marcus (Ericsson) and I made contact. I gave him all the room I could. It was a shame our race was pretty much over from there.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (21st – No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I just lost it in Turn 3, man. It’s been tough all weekend. Just human error. Hugely unfortunate. I think the No. 27 AutoNation Andretti Honda guys were phenomenal. Andretti Autosport was phenomenal all weekend. It’s the first time it’s happened to me, to crash from the lead. I don’t know what to say other than sorry to the boys, and we’ll come back next year.” (About buildup of rubber on track): “It was hard, man, on the restarts and such. That wasn’t what caused it (crash) out there. It just kind of bumped the wrong way, and I couldn’t save it.”

RINUS VEEKAY (15th – No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “I am officially Rookie of the Year. I am very happy with that. Everything we didn’t want to have happen in the race happened, though. We were super quick, but the first yellow kind of screwed us. I was in the pack after that. Scott McLaughlin spun to the inside, and I was there. I couldn’t go anywhere. After that, it was just about bringing the car home and getting the points. I think another podium was a possibility; we had such a fast car. We have to wait a few months until we come back, but we’ll give it another shot. I am looking forward to being back – not as a rookie.”

Power Owns Streets of St. Pete with Another Pole; Newgarden To Start 8th, Dixon 11th

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Oct. 24, 2020) – Will Power, the qualifying master of both the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and on the streets of St. Petersburg, reigned again Saturday, winning the NTT P1 Award for pole position in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Power posted a top lap of 1 minute, 1.0369 seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet in the Firestone Fast Six of qualifying for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Live coverage of the season finale on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course begins at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC and the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network.

CLICK IT: Firestone GP of St. Petersburg Qualifying Results

“I thought we had worse tires than the other guys, but I just absolutely nailed it, man,” Power said. “Really, really good lap. I had to work the wheel hard for that one. I’m so stoked to get the Verizon car on pole again. Hopefully we can get Chevy in Victory Lane tomorrow. That would be fantastic.”

Power’s pole run extended a long list of accolades. It was his ninth career pole at St. Petersburg in 12 qualifying attempts, and it was Team Penske’s 10th pole position at St. Pete, with all but one coming from Power.

2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power scored his fifth pole of the season and his second consecutive after starting first in the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Oct. 3. Power also made one step closer to history by scoring his 62nd career pole. He now sits just five behind the all-time INDYCAR record of 67, set by the legendary Mario Andretti.

“I’m able always to take it to another level, and I can only do it once a weekend, I reckon,” Power said. “It’s something I love. I just absolutely love getting the most out of something and perfecting a craft I’ve been working at for 25 years.”

Joining Power on the front row will be Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, who continued Andretti Autosport’s strong day and posted a best lap of 1:01.1730. Rossi has four consecutive top-10 starts to close the season as he also looks to end the year with four consecutive podium finishes.

Colton Herta, who was fastest in practice, qualified third in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda at 1:01.1815. Fellow Andretti driver James Hinchcliffe qualified fourth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda at 1:01.3626, and Jack Harvey, who drives for Meyer Shank Racing with an Andretti technical alliance, qualified fifth in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda at 1:01.3675.

The two athletes competing for the Astor Challenge Cup were noticeably missing from the Firestone Fast Six.

Defending series champion Josef Newgarden failed to make it out of Round 2 and qualified eighth in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet with a time of 1:00.8676.

“We took a swing at it for Q2, and it wasn’t the right direction,” Newgarden said. “I didn’t get the most out of it. I definitely had a lot of slides and wasn’t clean. I think just putting a clean lap together would have been good to transfer, and we just didn’t do the job. It makes our program a little harder for tomorrow, but we’ve still got to go for the win with the Hitachi Chevy boys. Yeah, we can we from there. We just made it a little harder.”

Meanwhile, points leader Scott Dixon will be forced to play defense in tomorrow’s 100-lap race after posting the second-to-last time in Round 2 of qualifying. Dixon will start 11th in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda after posting a time of 1:01.0283. He must finish ninth or better to clinch his sixth series title.

Dixon continued a trend of tough qualifying results as of late. Five-time series champion Dixon qualified 12th and 15th, respectively, in the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR doubleheader earlier this month on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“It was a little bit strange,” Dixon said. “Our first qualifying session, the car felt really good. Just didn’t really piece it together very well. Then we kind of flip-flopped on how we did it. The first run we did three (laps) on black and then four (laps) on red. And we thought the reds came in quick enough. But right then, with how the traffic was and having to slow down, it was really only two laps. Each corner I was making, the car was getting more grip. But I just needed another lap. It is what it is. Our mistake.”


‘What They’re Saying’ from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Qualifying 

1st – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I thought we had worse tires than the other guys, but I just absolutely nailed it, man. Really, really good lap. I had to work the wheel hard for that one. I’m so stoked to get the Verizon car on pole again. Hopefully we can get Chevy in Victory Lane tomorrow. That would be fantastic.” (About your mastery of qualifying): “I’m able always to take it to another level, and I can only do it once a weekend, I reckon. It’s something I love. I just absolutely love getting the most out of something and perfecting a craft I’ve been working at for 25 years.” (About race strategy): “Unfortunately, it’s looking a bit like a fuel race, but we’ll be going hard, man. Doing the normal thing, trying to win the race and finish the season on a high.”

2nd – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I think every round of qualifying we got better. We started the weekend strong in practice, so I think that’s a huge difference- maker on these weekends when you only have the one practice session. It’s a really good effort for the team to do the offline development. We haven’t been to a street course yet this year, so to have three cars in the top six is a testament to that. I think we just have to keep chipping away at it, and we’re in a good position to go and get that first win tomorrow.”

3rd – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “Pretty frustrated to lose it by that much. The Capstone #ShiftToGreen Honda definitely was the car to do it. We’ll look forward to tomorrow. We’re going to  try some stuff in warm-up and go from there.”

4th – JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “Obviously, very happy to make it into the Fast Six. It’s only the second time we’ve had the chance to do that this year,  and it was nice to have pace in practice and carry it over into qualifying – all three runs. In the final session, we thought we were stronger on blacks in Q1 and Q2, so we rolled the dice a bit. I think with the massive delay we had, it cooled off a lot, track temps went down. I think r eds would have been the right choice, but I stand by the decision we made. It was a strategic call to try and pull something out. But happy to be on the second row and happy that a bunch of my teammates are up there with us. Now we just have to put our heads down and have a good one tomorrow.”

5th – JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “We had a pretty good qualifying car,  and our pace at the end there was still pretty decent. There’s no reason we shouldn’t have a great race. We’ve been in the top five now in every discipline of track – road courses, ovals, street circuit. Now, it’s just a nice day to show myself, the team and the rest of the paddock that we can do it on all types of tracks. It was a good day. I think the relief of coming back to St. Pete is the biggest thing this weekend. I know that COVID hasn’t gone away , but it kind of feels like it’s come full circle in some ways because we left St. Pete in March having no idea what the future looked like, and we still don’t know exactly what it will look like apart from that we can tackle it.”

6th – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The practice wasn’t great for us, but we made our way back to the front part of the field during qualifying. The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet is starting on the third row, so we can try and win the race from there. It’s going to be tough to pass, and pit stop windows aren’t going to be as big as they used to be because the race is 10laps  shorter. I think if we have a good, consistent race and good pit stops, we should be in contention in the end.”

7th – SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “A much better start to the weekend here in St. Petersburg compared to our starting positions in Indy, so really proud of the group on the 14 car. It’s still touch  and go; you never know what you’re going to get.But it all worked out today. We’ll get P7 out of qualifying and start there tomorrow, so looking forward to it, and thanks for everybody’s support.”

8th – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “We took a swing at it for Q2, and it wasn’t the right direction. I didn’t get the most out of it. I definitely had a lot of slides and wasn’t clean. I think just putting a clean lap together would have been good to transfer, and we just didn’t do the job. It makes our program a little harder for tomorrow, but we’ve still got to go for the win with the Hitachi Chevy boys. Yeah, we can we from there. We just made it a little harder.”

9th – RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “That was a little stressful between sessions. I had a really good lap to advance. In Round 2, I made a little correction in the las t corner, which cost me about a tenth of a second. I think I could have made it if that didn’t happen, but that’s racing. Starting ninthis still pretty good . I’m happy with the SONAX Chevy, and I cannot wait to send it tomorrow.”

10th – OLIVER ASKEW (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I haven’t been in an Indy car in a bit over a month, so I was a bit rusty. But it was great to be back here at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Big shoutout to everyone at INDYCAR and Green Savoree  for making this event happen. To have it as a season finale is pretty incredible. It’s a home race for me, and I’ll have some family out here tomorrow that I hope to put on a good show for them and Arrow McLaren SP in my final race.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with qualifying position):

CONOR DALY (14th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “An interesting qualifying session for us. We thought we were in, we didn’t know we were in, we didn’t know we were out,  and then we were out. We’re starting 14th, which is OK. We need a little but more out of the car, and I need to deliver the right information to help us get there. We can have a good day tomorrow, for sure. We just have to  stay in the fight, move forward and use some good strategy. We have definitely made progress with the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, and I am looking forward to tomorrow!”

SCOTT DIXON (11th – No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “The first qualifying session the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda felt pretty good. We just didn’t piece it together that well. We flip flopped how we did it in the first run. In the first run we did three laps on blacks and four on reds. We thought the reds came in quick enough, but then with how the traffic was and having to slow down, there were really only two laps. The car was getting more grip in each corner, but we needed another lap. It is what it is. I think we’re starting P11 now and Newgarden is in P8. That definitely helps us a lot with him not qualifying on pole and getting extra points. We will keep working hard. We’ve got a warmup session in the morning and we’re going to see what we can make of it.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (15th – No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think practice was pretty good. We got a lot of laps in and a good read on the car. I was pretty happy going into qualifying. Then I think we had a good qualifying session , and everything went according to plan. However, it’s super disappointing to miss out on advancing by less than a tenth of a second. This is disappointing because I felt like we had a good car and drove well. We have a bit of work to do tomorrow.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (18th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It was a very interesting first day for the SealMaster  Honda team. We have a better race car than a qualifying car. We’re struggling to break into the top 10. I’m struggling. I’ve been bouncing the car off the wall multiple times in both practice and qualifying. We’re not extracting the best out of the lap time. We’ve just got to tidy it up for tomorrow, and we’ll be fine.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (19th – No. 28 DHL Honda): “An unfortunate result. Coming out of practice we went and completely switched the setup over to some of our teammates’ (setups). We had a pretty good running going to advance,  and the rear of the car broke loose in Turn 5. We were only looking for two-tenths of a second, and that was enough to lose that gap. Unfortunately, we are going to start in a spot that is less than ideal, but we will get creative to make it to the front.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (20th – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It’s nice to be back with fans and nice to be back at St. Pete. It feels strange to be ending the season here and running our last qualifying of the year instead of our first qualifying of the year. It is nice to be back at a street circuit because that’s one of the places where INDYCAR really shines. Man, it’s really tight here at St. Pete. We were just within a couple tenths of advancing the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet into the top 12, I think it was something like .3 of a percent we were off  – really small – but there is definitely room to improve the car, and we’ll do that overnight and be ready to go racing tomorrow. There’s always a little bit of chaos that seems to happen here at St. Pete, and we’ll just be ready to take advantage of it.”

SCOTT McLAUGHLIN (21st – No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Chevrolet): “We were probably better than where we ended up. But I stuffed up my red tire lap – I just need to get used to the grip. It was nice in practice because I had a lot of black tire runs but only got one on the red, and it was the same in qualifying. I’m not making any excuses. With a little more time, we will be OK . I’m disappointed with myself, but it is what it is. It’s tough to learn on a road course and learning the space around you. I’m used to knocking mirrors off on a wall, not necessarily my tire. We are just pushing trying to find our limits in a fast-forward motion. I just need to thank everyone with Shell V-Power Nitro +, Team Penske and everyone. We will have a go at it tomorrow.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (12th – No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m sure happy. The Menards Chevrolet has been really good all day long. We’ve made some big improvement, which is encouraging for 2021. In that last session, Dixon was in front of me the whole run. So  we were stuck behind him, and I had to do my laps. I’ve just not been on the right side of the stick this year in qualifying. We had a car fast enough for the Fast Six, no question, but Dixon was the slowest car on the track.”

ALEX PALOU (16th – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “Practice this morning went really well,  but I think our result was maybe a bit better than the actual pace of our Guaranteed Rate Honda. Qualifying was difficult because we didn’t really get the ultimate lap because of traffic and then the red flag at the end. We were missing, I think, a tenth from making it into the next round. I’m a bit upset about that, but we should be fine for the race tomorrow. The car is better than where we are starting , and hopefully we can finish in the top 10 again. I really like the St. Petersburg street course.It’s different from what I’m most used to, and with limited practice time it makes it tough to learn the track and see the limits, but it’s been fun so far.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (17th – No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “We didn’t perform very well today. In the first practice, we didn’t get a run on the reds. It’s my fault. I wanted to complete a run on blacks and should have just come in and given ourselves an opportuni ty, and I didn’t do that. And then the red came out and reduced the session. Then we went into qualifying a little blind. I think we had enough speed. I pushed it really hard into Turn 1 on Lap 2, got four wheels locked up and about went around, and it really hurt us. I’m going to take this one on the chin,  and we’re going to move on. Tomorrow’s going to be a tough day from where we start, but I think my second-best finish here of second place, I started second-to-last, so anything can happen.It’s 100 laps,  and there is going to be plenty of excitement tomorrow. Let’s try to finish this thing off strong.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (22nd – No. 10 NTT DATA Honda): “I thought the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda felt good. I had a bit of traffic on my laps, but I put a decent lap together to get us through. Then unfortunately we got penalized because we blocked the No. 55 car, which our software told us that he was on his out lap, but he wasn’t. Obviously, we trust the software that INDYCAR provides us, but it showed us the wrong thing, and we paid the price for it. It’s tough because thesame  thing happened to us last year at Laguna. It is what it is.”

TAKUMA SATO (13th – No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Honda): “I brushed the wall. It  was my mistake. Since the field was so tight, little things bit us. We made quite a few small changes on the car, which we felt was positive, but then putting everything together (in one lap) is always tough business. A small mistake made us not be able to transfer to the next round, so that was a shame. We are going in a positive direction, though , and have the warm-up session to continue to improve the car. We will look at the data tonight, and I think we can move forward in tomorrow’s warm-up.”

Five Non-Championship Things to Watch at Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

After 1,800 laps over the course of 13 races, the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship comes down to a battle between Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden.

The two championship protagonists will be the center of this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but there are other stories to watch heading into the season finale on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.Here are five non-championship things to watch for this weekend.
Power & Glory

When it comes to the streets of St. Petersburg, no team is better than Team Penske.The team has nine wins and nine poles at the 1.8-mile temporary street course and boasts one of the circuit’s most successful drivers – Will Power, who has two wins and eight of the poles in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.Power is motivated to end his season on a high note and finish third in the championship ahead of young stars Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward.

“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,” Power said. “St. Pete is such a technical street course, so it can be really fun to race.”
Turn 1 is Poppin’

If you’re looking to overtake in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the first turn of the 1.8-mile street circuit at St. Peterburg is one of the corners you’re looking forward to driving.The corner, which turns right off the long and wide Albert Whitted Airport runway, leads into a tight section of downtown St. Petersburg streets. It has been the location of more than 500 on-track passes in the history of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but it’s also a place where attempts to pass have gone wrong and ended potential winning days.“

St. Pete has been recognized so well for the season opener for a long time, so it feels a little different when you realized that it will be our last race of the season,” said two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato. “Nevertheless, St. Pete has been one of the greatest tracks and we all love it, so I am very happy to go back there. Needless to say, but we are so much looking forward to this challenging street race. Yes, it will add an element of unpredictability as it’s the nature of the street course race, but that’s all good for the show.”
R is for Rookie (and Rinus)

Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay has all but locked up the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Award.The 20-year-old Dutchman only needs to start the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to claim the rookie title over Alex Palou of Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh and Oliver Askew of Arrow McLaren SP.

“It will be so nice to come back to St. Petersburg,” VeeKay said. “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.”
McLaughlin’s Debut

Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will make his highly anticipated NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut at St. Petersburg as he weighs his options for the next stage of his racing career.

The New Zealand native, who wrapped up his third straight title for DJR Team Penske in the Australian touring car series, impressed in three preseason tests with Team Penske’s INDYCAR squad, including finishing in the top three at the series Open Test at Circuit of the Americas.

“I’m super pumped to finally get a crack at my first INDYCAR race,” McLaughlin said. “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.”
Ending the Year on a High

Of the seven drivers who won races in 2019, only Alexander Rossi hasn’t visited Victory Lane in 2020, meaning the Andretti Autosport driver will have to win at St. Petersburg to extend his streak of seasons with at least one win to five years.

Rossi has history on his side.In his four previous starts at St. Petersburg, Rossi has an average finish of 7.75 and led laps in the last two races, where he finished third and fifth, respectively.

“I am so thankful that we get to have this event as our season finale, and we can continue our run of podiums to finish out the year,” said Rossi, who has finished on the podium in the last four consecutive races. “If all the stars align, I know we can get a win before it’s all said and done.”

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Fast Facts

Race weekend: Saturday, Oct. 24 – Sunday, Oct. 25

Track: Streets of St. Petersburg, 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit (clockwise) through downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, including a section of runway of Albert Whitted Airport

Media links: Entry List (PDF)

Race distance: 100 laps / 180 miles

Push-to-pass parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum single duration of 15 seconds. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. One extra set is available to the rookie drivers entered.

Twitter: @GPSTPETE, @INDYCAR, #FirestoneGP, #INDYCAR

Event website: www.gpstpete.com

INDYCAR website: www.indycar.com

2019 race winner: Josef Newgarden, 2:04:18.2588, 95.572 mph (110 laps/198 miles)

2019 NTT P1 Award winner: Will Power, 1:00.4594, 107.179 mph

Qualifying lap record: Jordan King, 1:00.0476; 107.914 mph, March 10, 2018 (set in Round 1 of qualifying)

NBC Sports telecasts: Qualifying, 8 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN (tape-delayed); Race, 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

NBC Sports Gold live streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analysts Davey Hamilton and Nick Yeoman. Jake Query and Rob Howden are the pit reporters. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race (2 p.m. ET on Oct. 25) airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, indycar.comindycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on indycar.comindycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also airing on XM 205.

At-track schedule (All Times Local/Eastern Time):

Saturday, Oct. 24

10:55 a.m.-12:55 p.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice #1, NBC Sports Gold

3-4:20 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. 25

10:40-11:10 a.m.: NTT INDYCAR SERIES warm-up, NBC Sports Gold

2:27 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”

2:30 p.m.: NBC on air

2:32 p.m.: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (100 laps/180 miles), NBC (live)

Championship Facts:

  • Scott Dixon leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with one race to go for the fifth time since 2008. Dixon, who has led the championship after every round this season, has won the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship three of the previous four times he led the championship (2008, 2013 and 2018).
  • There are two drivers mathematically eligible for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship: Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden. Dixon has won five NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships while Newgarden has won the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship twice in the last three seasons (2017 and 2019).
  • This is the 17th Indy car race on the streets of St. Petersburg and the first time that the Indy car championship will be decided at the track. The temporary street circuit routinely hosts the season-opening race and has done so since 2011.
  • The winner at St. Petersburg has gone on to win the championship five times: Paul Tracy (2003), Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2011), Will Power (2014) and Josef Newgarden (2019).

Key championship point statistic: This is the 15th consecutive year that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion will be determined at the final race of the season.

Race Notes:

  • This will mark the first time that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has served as INDYCAR’s championship-deciding race. This will be the 17th race overall, dating to Paul Tracy winning the CART-sanctioned race in 2003.
  • The St. Petersburg INDYCAR race has been run every year since 2003 except for 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have started 15 consecutive races. Only Dixon is entered this year. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay competed in the first race in 2003.
  • Scott Dixon seeks his first win on the streets of St. Petersburg. Dixon’s five NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships trail only the seven titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon is third on the all-time Indy car victory list with 50 but has never won at St. Petersburg. He has four runner-up finishes at the circuit, including in 2019.
  • Will Power (2010 and 2014) and Sebastien Bourdais (2017 and 2018) are the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Helio Castroneves won three times (2006, 2007, 2012), while Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and 2016. Past winners Graham Rahal (2008) and Josef Newgarden (2019) are also entered.
  • Team Penske has won the pole position nine of the past 13 St. Petersburg races, including eight of the last 10 poles by Will Power. Past pole winners Sebastien Bourdais (2003), Graham Rahal (2009) and Takuma Sato (2014) are also entered this weekend.
  • Two drivers have won the race from the pole – Helio Castroneves (2007) and Will Power (2010). The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth in four of the last seven seasons.
  • Team Penske has won at St. Petersburg nine times, including five of the last eight races with Helio Castroneves (2012), Will Power (2014), Juan Pablo Montoya (2015-16) and Josef Newgarden (2019).

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Pre-Event Quotes:

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+ 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.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s going to be fun to get to St. Pete. Obviously, we were all down there in March and ready to go. It feels great to be able to finish off the season with that race and also for the series to have a street course race. It’s the only street course race of the year, so that will be interesting to see how everyone does. It’s been a pretty good year for the No. 8 Huski Chocolate team. We’ve had some ups and downs, but we want to finish strong and I think we have a good chance to do that in St. Pete. I’m really looking forward to it, and it’s going to be an exciting weekend. It’s good to have fans in the grandstands again.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was definitely a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy. I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points title comes down to the last race, and even without the double points like we’ve seen before. I’m just really proud of this PNC Bank team and everyone who works so hard to win. Honda has been pushing hard, and we’re always proud to be powered by them along with HPD. For whatever reason, we were just struggling to get comfortable with the balance of the car the last few races and that’s one of the key things we’ll be working on for St. Petersburg.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT Honda):  “Heading to St. Pete, it will definitely be a bit weird without having done any street courses yet this year. Normally we start out with St. Pete, and now we’re ending with St. Pete. It’s a cool place to end the season. There’s a big championship battle going on with Dixon and Newgarden, so obviously the biggest focus for the team is to wrap that one up. I think Scott really deserves to get the title there. I am very happy to be back on a street track, which is my best kind of track. I have really good memories of the last time we were in St. Pete racing. It was my first race ever in INDYCAR, and we were leading the race. I can’t wait to get back there.”

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.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “We’re looking forward to St. Pete. We’ve done well there before and have been very competitive there in the past, having won years ago. But also we’ve had some good runs over the last few years. We’re used to St. Pete starting the season off and getting the mojo for the whole year going, and obviously this year it’s ending our season but will quickly start our next, so we need to make sure we are well prepared and do a good job this weekend. It’s critical that our cars are competitive, that Takuma and I work well together and try to close this season off on a really high note. As far as the No. 15 car this year, I‘m really proud of how everyone has worked together. I think we’ve had a pretty stellar year. Obviously, I would have liked to get the win at Indianapolis, but, in general, I think our guys have done a great job and have been pretty locked in and pretty focused. We’d like to get them a win, would like to finish this year off that way. It’s been since 2017 since we’ve won, so we’re pretty focused on trying to make that happen, and it would be great to do it in St. Pete. We’re sixth in points and could move forward with a really strong weekend. I’m not so worried about moving backward, obviously, that still is a threat, but the point is I would rather just take some chances and advance our position and go forward in the championship, so that’s what we’re going to try to do. All in all, we’re looking forward to the challenges ahead with one last go this season and will close 2020 off hopefully on a very high note.”

CONOR DALY (No. 20 U.S. Air Force 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 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 Menards 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.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “I know we’ve usually wrapped up the season well before the end of October, but it’s still weird to think the season is coming to an end in St. Pete. I’m obviously very thankful to Andretti Autosport and Gainbridge for the chance to be in the race this week and just really want to end the year with a strong result. I love this track and this event, and it’s great that we get fans back again. We were all ready to race St. Pete when the racing world shut down back in March, so it seems fitting that we will wrap up a wild 2020 season here.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “What an accomplishment by the series, promoter, and city to be able to get back to where the 2020 season almost began in St. Pete. I am so thankful that we get to have this event as our season finale, and hopefully we can continue our run of podiums to finish out the year. If all the stars align, I know we can get a win before it’s all said and done.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I think it’s safe to say everyone is thrilled with the opportunity to compete at St. Pete. Usually, this would be our season opener, yet we’re finishing the season there, and it’s our first street course race of the season. Odd year, to say the least. Historically, St. Pete has been one of our stronger tracks on the schedule and it’s my home race, so I’m really looking forward to the race weekend.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Honda): “It feels the time has passed, and it has been a long time since our last visit. We just never knew what was going to happen in the world at that time, and it has changed a lot – in particular in the U.S. – but we appreciate so much that we are able to have a race. St. Pete has been recognized so well for the season opener for a long time so it feels a little different when you realized that it will be our last race of the season. Nevertheless, St. Pete has been one of the greatest tracks and we all love it, so I am very happy to go back there. It’s sad that this is the only street race of this year, but we all understand and we live under very difficult and challenging circumstances. I always enjoy driving the St. Pete course, and we went to the simulator in the spring, so we did our prep as much as we could then. Needless to say, but we are so much looking forward to this challenging street race. Yes, it will add an element of unpredictability as it’s the nature of the street course race, but that’s all good for the show and we think we will be competitive! Regardless of the season-ending position, we have to just focus on doing the best possible job we try to achieve.”

ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “I’m super excited to be heading back to St. Petersburg this weekend and to finally get to race there seven months later! It’s great that we can go back to close out the season and that we’ll be able to do it in front of fans, as well. This will be my first street course in an Indy car. It’s kind of crazy to think that it’s my last race of the season but my first street course. It’s going to be challenging, as always, with only one hour of practice, but we’ll do our best. Hopefully, we can finish the season on a high. Our results have been improving, and we’ve been more consistent, which we needed. We’re aiming for another top 10. It won’t be easy, but we’ll go for it and maybe even do better than our goal.”

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 in such 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.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “I’m really excited to get back to St. Pete, It’s such a shame that we didn’t get to race there earlier this year, but I’m really thrilled that we can have it as a season finale instead of a season opener. I hope it’s a really great weekend for us. We’ve had some great momentum and some great consistency, and hopefully we can have a solid result to end the season on a high note.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “Very excited to finish the season in St. Pete and grateful for the opportunity to do so. We’re looking to finish the season strong with the 88 Capstone #ShiftToGreen Honda. It’s even better to be able to race with fans there.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda): “It’s been a dismal season, results-wise, but we have the pace to make something good happen to close the year. I’m approaching St. Pete for momentum into next year. Great place to start or end the year.”

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to Test Reigning Formula E Champion Antonio Félix da Costa at Barber Motorsports Park

Antonio Félix da Costa doing a seat fit with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing before an NTT INDYCAR® SERIES test at Barber Motorsports Park on November 2, 2020 (Photo Courtesy of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (October 14, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that it is scheduled to test reigning FIA Formula E champion Antonio Félix da Costa, 29, on November 2 at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP).  It will be the first time for the five-time FIA Formula E race winner to drive an Indy car.

“I have never hidden the fact that it’s a big dream of mine to come try out an Indy car,” said Antonio Félix da Costa, a native of Cascais, Portugal. “I am a big fan of how America, and INDYCAR in particular, goes about the sport and have been a huge fan for many years. I have known Bobby for a few years. We always met at the BMW Christmas dinners and every year I kept saying ‘Come on, let me have a go’ and finally now I got the call to come meet the team and test. It’s very exciting times for me and something I have been looking forward to a lot. The first contact with the team has been very positive and everyone has been friendly. I can see there is a high level of professionalism in the team which was to be expected. I’m excited to get on track.”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES was unable to hold the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at BMP this season on April 5. RLL driver Takuma Sato is the most recent race winner at BMP after also having won pole and heading up the first 1-2 start for the team since 2005 with teammate Graham Rahal, who started second. Sato went on to lead 74 of 90 laps en route to victory.  

“We were unable to maximize a full team test using one of our three days, since Graham is waiting for the arrival of his first child so this enables us to test a young and very accomplished driver in Antonio Félix da Costa,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “Through our partnership with BMW on the sports car side, we have followed his career and are excited to see what he can do in an Indy car.”

“We have heard a lot of great things about this young man’s talent and look forward to good results from our test at Barber Motorsports Park. It always adds value to get another perspective and we are confident he can provide good insight,” added Mike Lanigan, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. 

A large INDYCAR SERIES contingent is expected at the one-day test at Barber Motorsports Park on Monday, November 2. The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season concludes with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on October 24-25. Live coverage of the race begins on NBC at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 25.

About Antonio Félix da Costa
With six seasons of all-electric single seater racing under his belt, da Costa is one of the most experienced Formula E drivers on the grid. Coming from a racing family, da Costa started karting at the age of nine, racing in a number of Portuguese championships against more experienced and older competitors. In 2007, he progressed into single-seaters in Formula Renault 2.0 and, after gaining attention in both Formula 3 Euro Series and GP3, he would eventually join the Red Bull program.

After making his Formula One test debut for Force India in 2010, the Portuguese driver went on to pilot four of Adrian Newey’s title-winning Red Bull Racing machines. Moving to Formula E, da Costa started his career in the series as a driver for Team Aguri in 2014, where he raced for two seasons. After securing an early win in Buenos Aires during season one, the top step of the podium proved elusive for the Portuguese driver until a win in the opening round of the 2018/19 season in Saudi Arabia.  

In the third season, da Costa moved to Andretti where he raced for two seasons, benefiting from the team’s technical partnership with BMW in 2017/18. In 2017, the team grew into a full manufacturer works team — BMW i Andretti Motorsport — with da Costa and teammate Alexander Sims announced as the team’s debut driver line up. He finished the season sixth after briefly challenging for the title before moving to reigning champions DS Techeetah where he brought them back-to-back titles in 2019/20. In total, he has earned five Formula E wins and 11 podiums in six seasons of competition.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2020, the team is in the midst of their 29th year of open wheel competition and has 29 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship.  The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 82 podium finishes as well as a second place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017.  

News from INDYCAR: Harvest Grand Prix Race 2 Report and Quotes

Power Holds Off Herta for Victory; Dixon, Newgarden Going to Wire To Decide Title

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, Oct. 3) – Will Power produced one of the most dominant performances of his career, leading wire-to-wire from the pole position in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to win the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2 on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Though he led all 75 laps in the caution-free race, 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power didn’t cruise to a victory. In the final 10 laps, Power fended off a hard charging Colton Herta in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda, setting up an intense battle between the top two starters of the race for the socially distanced crowd at the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course.

RESULTS: INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2

Herta closed a 1.5-second gap with 10 laps to go down to as close as one-half second with five laps remaining, but Power managed to win by .8932 of a second.

“The tires were going away,” Power said. “It was a very tough battle. I had to work very hard to keep him (Colton Herta) behind. Marco (Andretti) didn’t make it easy. Just so happy to have Verizon and Chevy in Victory Lane again. Two Hondas trying to attack us there, but the Chevy had very good power and drivability.

“I’m over the moon to get another win, especially at this place. It was good not to get caught by a yellow or something strange like that. Great stops. We had a very good car; we improved on it from yesterday. Man, I just pushed so hard the whole race. Obviously, we had to save fuel, but you’re still pushing while lifting early into the corners. A fantastic day, fantastic day.”

Alexander Rossi finished third in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda to score his fourth straight podium finish of the season. Josef Newgarden finished fourth in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top five in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

Herta’s second-place result was his fourth career podium finish and second this season, along with his win at Mid-Ohio 2.

“The Capstone Green car was really good,” Herta said. “I’m happy to be powered by HPD, and obviously we had another Andretti 2-3, two cars on the podium, so I’m really excited about that. I just needed a little bit more time and a little bit more tire. (Power) was really fast. I don’t think I could have gotten him today, though.”

Power’s dominating day at Indianapolis was historic. He earned the 61st NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole of his career Saturday morning and inched closer to the legendary Mario Andretti’s record of 67 poles before scoring his 39th career Indy car win, tying him for fifth on the all-time INDYCAR wins list with four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser.

The win, which was the second wire-to-wire win in his career after he led every lap at Barber Motorsports Park in 2011, made him the winningest NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver on the IMS road course with four wins.

“Man, you talk about the names. Just amazing,” Power said. “These people are absolute legends of the sport, and I could have never imagined having my name among such unbelievable historic drivers. All of these guys I was a huge fan of when I was a kid. They’re kind of my heroes, so it’s really cool to have my name up there.”

Of the many on-track battles at the Racing Capital of the World, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points race was one of the most intense as points leader Scott Dixon tried to fend off Newgarden, who took a big chunk out of Dixon’s points lead by winning Friday’s INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1.

Dixon’s race got off to a nerve-wracking start after he started a disappointing 15th and had contact with Ryan Hunter Reay in the No. 28 DHL Honda in Turn 7. The contact resulted in damage to Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with a hole in the left-side undertray of the car.

Dixon powered through the day and managed to score a top-10 finish, crossing the line eighth. But his points lead shrunk yet again due to Newgarden’s top five. Newgarden gained eight points on Dixon and now sits 32 behind Dixon heading into the season finale Oct. 25 at St. Petersburg.

“It’s definitely been a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy,” said Dixon, who has lost 85 points from his lead since he had a 117-point gap after his most recent win on Aug. 29 at World Wide Technology Raceway. “I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points title comes down to the last race, and even without the double points like we’ve seen before.”

Dixon must finish eighth or better at St. Petersburg to clinch his sixth Astor Challenge Cup even if Newgarden scores all 54 points available for a victory, pole, leading one lap and leading the most laps.

2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Dixon and two-time and reigning series champion Newgarden would be tied atop the standings if Newgarden scored maximum points and Dixon finished eighth. In that scenario, both drivers would have four victories this season, but Dixon would win the tiebreaker by virtue of his two second-place finishes this season, compared to one for Newgarden.

The season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg can be seen live on NBC Sunday, Oct. 25.

‘What They’re Saying’ from the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2

1st – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The tires had gone away and it was a tough battle, and I had to work very hard to keep him (Colton Herta) behind. I am just so happy to have Verizon and Chevy in Victory Lane again. We had two Hondas trying to attack us there, but my Chevy had very good power and drivability, so just over the moon to get another win, especially at this place.”

2nd – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “I think I kind of left everything out there. I used up a lot of my tires trying to catch back up to those guys. We just didn’t really have it at the end. I think I burned up the rears a little bit too much to the point where Will (Power) could hold me back. I do think we were a little bit faster than him, but, unfortunately, we just didn’t put it together in the first stint until too far back, and that kind of hurt us going into the next two stints.”

3rd – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Ultimately, another good day. It was the best qualifying we’ve had all year, so it’s good to be able so start up front, finally. I think our pace through the first two stints was good. I think me, Will (Power) and Colton (Herta) were kind of in our own league, and it was kind of whoever could make the best last stint happen. We went with blacks (primary tire) because we thought it was a good option. We were the only car that did blacks on the last stint. Ultimately, we tried something different – I’m not mad about it – but it was the wrong tire choice. Did it cost us the win? Maybe not. Did it cost us second? Probably. But, ultimately, four races, four podiums, and we’re pretty happy.”

4th – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were a little shy of where we needed to be. If we had a phenomenal day like we had yesterday, we would be in really good shape. We were just mediocre today. I think we had a car to compete with Will (Power) and (Colton) Herta and (Alexander) Rossi up there, but we just didn’t start up there high enough. With the start, I got kind of buried on the inside and I tried to get as much as I could on the outside, but then Santino (Ferrucci) came in running tight – but he was fine. It just got tight, and I got pushed back a little too far. The key for us was being up higher earlier today. I just had to work for a lot just like Scott (Dixon) did. If we had a cleaner qualifying run, I think we really would have had a better day. I’m really thankful to Team Chevy. There were two wins for Team Chevy here this weekend. They did a phenomenal job, and obviously having Hitachi support is always big for us. Look, we’re in it with a shot. We’re going to go to St. Pete and try and win this championship. I just wish we were in a little closer position.”

5th – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We ended up where we started.We didn’t go backwards; we didn’t go forwards. I think we maximized absolutely everything we could out of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Our black (primary) tire pace was where we really lost our chance at a podium. We have some work to do, but there’s one more race to go. We are going to try and get a win before the year ends. We are going to give it hell in St. Pete.”

6th – JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “I thought the pace that we had today was decent.We finished sixth and started seventh. The strategy was just about as good as it could have got. To come out of Indy with an eighth and a sixth, it maybe is a little less than what we might have hoped. But we’ve been so consistently qualified in the top 10 and racing in the top 10. Outside of a little bit of bad luck, I think we have finished quite well. Now we just need to figure out what steps we need to take to get to the podium.”

7th – GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “Another seventh-place finish. I’m disappointed from the standpoint that I thought yesterday the United Rentals car had good pace, but today we struggled a little. I think a lot of guys struggled more today, just for whatever reason. It was kind of a handful out there. We got two seventh-place finishes.We’re still sixth in the points and 22 behind Pato(O’Ward), so we’ve got to have a good weekend in St. Pete, and we can get into the topfive. But we were just missing it a little bit this weekend. We’ll work hard and try to figure it out and come back stronger. In the end, it was a good weekend for Turns for Troops and Soldier Strong with our United Rentals program. We raised a lot of money to help our veterans.”

8th – SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s definitely been a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy. I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points title comes down to the last race, and even without the double points like we’ve seen before. I’m just really proud of this PNC Bank team and everyone who works so hard to win. Honda has been pushing hard, and we’re always proud to be powered by them along with HPD. Congrats to Will(Power) and Josef (Newgarden) on the wins here. That’s what we’ll be trying to do in St. Petersburg.”

9th – ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “It was a good day with the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda. Qualifying went well this morning. We improved a lot from yesterday. We did a risky strategy of doing two sets of Firestone reds, and it paid off. Our target for the race was to finish in the top 10, and we did. It was the first time for me doing a fuel strategy race like this, and it worked out, so I’m happy. This is where I think we belong, in the top 10, so hopefully we can finish out the season with another good result in a few weeks.”

10th – SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a big weekend for Team Penske. Will(Power) did a great job today, and congratulations to him for the win. We worked hard today for a top-10 finish with the DXC Technology Chevrolet, and it was a good way for us to end the weekend. With another good finish today by Josef (Newgarden), Team Penske has a chance to race for the championship at St. Pete, so we’re all looking forward to the finale and a good result there.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):

MARCO ANDRETTI (Finished 22nd – No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda): “2020 continues to be challenging for us. We’re just focusing forward to St. Pete and doing all we can to end the season on a good result.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (Finished 18th – No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a pretty trying weekend, not where we want to be, but it’s just the beginning of the relationship. We’re hoping to build something and prepare as best as possible for next year. In some respects, we achieved that. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but if it was easy, I may not be here. We have a lot to think about, a lot to go through and analyze and see what may explain what we’ve experienced this weekend. Starting from where we started today makes things very difficult, but we were on the right strategy with the two-stopper because everyone who had a halfway-decent day was on the two-stop strategy. Passing was once again extremely difficult. Just a shame we got caught up in some guys’ messes when they tangled and got back on track like (Marcus) Ericsson running off the track and making us lose a couple of positions. We never could recover from that because passing was so difficult. At the end of the day, live and learn. Everybody tried real hard. The mechanics did a great job throwing all the changes that we wanted to try at the car, and that was quite a bit all weekend long. We’ll keep working at it and move forward.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (Finished 21st – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The result doesn’t show how much work everyone from Arrow McLaren SP put into this weekend to make sure I was comfortable. We tried a different strategy, and even if the strategy wasn’t right, it was right for me because I could push and understand more of the car on reds (alternate tires). I wish we could have another qualifying and race tomorrow. I can’t thank Sam (Schmidt), Ric (Peterson), Zak (Brown) and Arrow McLaren SP enough for an amazing job. The car is in one piece, which is great. Great experience. Hopefully Oliver (Askew) continues to look after his health.”

MAX CHILTON (Finished 19th – No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a really tough day out there today. We had an issue on the start where we got blocked and lost quite a few spots, but thankfully we were able to make them up throughout the race. We just really struggled on blacks (primary tires).The reds (alternate tires) were manageable, but the blacks had zero grip. I just didn’t feel like I could be as aggressive today as I was yesterday, so unfortunately we weren’t as competitive as we were in Race 1. Even with the fuel saving, we were still able to make up positions throughout the race, especially when we were on the reds. Obviously, I wish we could’ve improved today and gotten a top 10, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us.”

CONOR DALY (Finished 20th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “As I made a move into Turn 1 on Lap 2, we had a glitch and lost the throttle for a couple of seconds. I had to fall back to last, but honestly from then on, we had really good pace. Our second stint on new reds (alternate tires) was great; we got up to 14th from dead last. We were making great progress but couldn’t maintain the speed on the last set of used reds. The 41 car (Dalton Kellett) blocked us pretty aggressively and was not very sportsmanlike, which was a shame. We just had to hang on to the finish.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (Finished 15th – No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “That race was just a complete mess, to be honest. From the start, I got hit three or four times in the first couple laps from every side of the car and from behind and got put on the grass, as well. That really set the tone to the race. It was a shame because the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda felt good, but it was just a mess. Then, in the second stint, I spent most of the race fighting with (Takuma) Sato. I couldn’t get by him. He was defending like crazy for P15 and ruined both of our races, to be honest. I don’t really understand that tactic because I think both of us suffered massively from that. That was a shame. Otherwise, a top 10 would have been possible. With half of the race fighting with Sato, it just ruined our tires and push to pass. It was very disappointing.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (Finished 12th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “We had another phenomenal start to the race in the SealMaster Honda, moving up almost into the top-five. After the start we struggled on the used red (alternate) tires and we weren’t so great on the black (primary) tires. I think we had a little too much front wing. It just wasn’t the same as yesterday. Once we put the new reds on, everything seemed to make more sense with the car. Now we’ll head to St. Petersburg for the final race and see if we can end the season on a high note.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (Finished 13th – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “It seems like an awful lot of work to only pick up one spot (in points), but with the race length the way it was, and the fuel situation the way it was, everyone was kind of in a similar boat. It was just how and when you use your tires. I think we did a good job in that sense. We had a lot of good races with guys out there. I got bumped off track by Santino (Ferrucci) at one point, which definitely cost a bit of time, and held up by some lapped cars at one point. Ultimately, it was a pretty lock-step race. I’m just happy to bring the Gainbridge car home is a somewhat reasonable position, and it gives us something to build off of for St. Pete.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (Finished 16th – No. 28 DHL Honda): “Tough day overall. We gambled on a strategy that just fell on its head. We took a roll of the dice on the three-stopper, and it just didn’t pan out. It was a day full of taking risks – starting on blacks (primary tires), going with the three-stop strategy – but none of it panned out for us. It’s similar to 2020 in a nutshell.”

SAGE KARAM (Finished 24th – No. 24 Dryer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): “While the results didn’t show it today, our Oil2Soil Chevy was much better in qualifying and the race from Thursday and Friday. We made some changes overnight that helped the race car. It’s tough out there. We ran P3 in qualifying today, and I pulled into the pits and looked at the time sheet, and I’m 11th. Wow, this series is very difficult. In the race, we tried the Firestone red(alternate) tires, and the car wasn’t as good as on the Firestone blacks (primary tires). Later in the race, I was running very competitive laps, but we lost a lot early. Our pit stops were very good today. The big thing for the DRR team, who is just getting back into road racing after a seven-year layoff, is that we learned quite a bit with the doubleheader race weekend. We lost some valuable time on Thursday in practice when we had a fuel pressure issue. But we will take the info and study it for the future races.”

DALTON KELLETT (Finished 25th – No. 41 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Definitely not the way we wanted to end the season for the No. 41 K Line Insulators USA crew. We thought we were looking pretty good going into the race with the two new sets of Firestone alternates (tires). When we went to sticker reds, we didn’t quite have the pace and it just seemed like the car couldn’t quite take the extra little bit of aggression to try to get that next few tenths out of it. Had a couple mistakes in (Turn) 1 trying to push the brakes out a little bit deeper but getting front lock-up, so that really hurt us having to take the run-off road there. At the end of the day, we didn’t quite have the pace or the consistency to pull off the strategy that we were trying to go for, which was a bummer for the team. I think we’ve worked really hard all season and we’ve definitely made improvements, but obviously today showed there’s some work that we have to do. We have to sit down and think really hard over what’s been good about the changes that we’ve made so far and what hasn’t worked and come up with a plan from there.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (Finished 23rd – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Honestly, kind of a frustrating day. We made the decision strategically to do something different than the 14 (Sebastien Bourdais) and something different than the 41 (Dalton Kellett). We started on used alternate Firestones. The pace just wasn’t great. The second stint on our first set of primes (tires), we just really struggled to find lap time, so from yesterday to today we seemed to have gotten a little outside the window. I don’t know if it was weather conditions, track conditions or just the tires we had left after using a little more on yesterday’s race, but going for the three-stop we had to make really good lap time, and we struggled with a little bit during the second stint of the race. But at the end, the lap times weren’t bad on the third and fourth stints. We just need to figure out how to make the car better in qualifying so we don’t have to throw Hail Mary’s.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (Finished 11th – No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I will have to look at what happened at the start. I had a really good run into Turn 1, got around Turn 1 well.Then in Turn 2, someone dive-bombed me on the inside. I think it was (Santino) Ferrucci or someone. I just lost four or five spots immediately. Then I came behind (Scott) Dixon, and he was on blacks (primary tires). Obviously, we didn’t want to fight him. Pretty much the whole race went away there because that was supposed to be our good stint with the new reds (alternate tires). Then I had contact with (Charlie) Kimball. I’m not sure what he was doing. I think he was struggling with his peripheral vision. It was just not really our race after that with the NTT DATA car.”

TAKUMA SATO (Finished 14th – No. 30 Keihin Honda): “It was a hard race today. Once again there were no yellows, so it was very difficult to make up positions, and strategy-wise it was almost fixed. We fought almost all the race long, and in the end, we gained some positions. One guy pushed me off to the grass, which was a shame because we lost a few positions. But in the end, we finished 14th after a hard battle, which was a little frustrating but at least we raced hard today.”

RINUS VEEKAY (Finished 17th – No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “Way different race than yesterday. I wish there had been some kind of yellow so we could have done something. Two stints on blacks (primary tires) — that was tough. We were not quick on the blacks yesterday, and that did not change for today. The last stint on reds was pretty OK. We just had some unfortunate things happen today. I wasn’t completely happy with the handling of the car, but we didn’t get the set up quite right – it happens! Everyone gave 100 percent, including me, and that just wasn’t enough today. Let’s head to St. Pete and send it!”

INDYCAR ANNOUNCES NEW LONG-TERM COMMITMENT BY ENGINE PARTNERS

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020) – INDYCAR has reached a new, multi-year extension with engine partners Honda and Chevrolet, taking their partnership well into the end of the decade and providing stability and innovation for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
 
“To be able to announce a long-term, multi-year extension with our two great partners is phenomenal,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “It’s an exciting time in INDYCAR with the innovations in the car, the new 2.4-liter engine and hybrid technology.”
 
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the introduction of the 2.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 with hybrid technology will be delayed to the year 2023. Working in partnership with Chevrolet and Honda, the new engine will give the most exciting and competitive racing series in the world an additional 100 horsepower, ultimately producing over 900.
 
“Honda welcomes this step to the future by INDYCAR, action that mirrors Honda’s efforts to develop and manufacture high-performance, electrified products that will meet industry challenges and delight our customers,” said Ted Klaus, president of Honda Performance Development. “At Honda, we race to develop our people, to innovate technologies and to engage fans. We are proud of our uninterrupted, 27-year leadership in INDYCAR, and look forward to delivering a next-generation Honda 2.4-liter hybrid power unit with more than 900 horsepower.”
 
“Chevrolet has enjoyed great success since joining the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2012 with our 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged, direct-injected V6 engine,” said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors. “We are thrilled to be moving forward with INDYCAR because it’s the perfect showcase for our engine technology, in the only open-wheel racing series in America, a high-tech, growing series that Roger Penske and his team are absolutely taking to the next level.”
 
The newly designed powertrain system also will provide a departure from the traditional, manual handheld starters and will let drivers restart the car quickly should it stall on the track. This will benefit the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team as it reduces exposure time on track and adds to the fan experience by potentially reducing the number of caution flags on track, leading to better flow and time of races.
 
“Fast, loud, and authentic,” Frye said, “along with a history of innovation – that’s our racing roots and will continue to be the sport’s legacy. This announcement keeps that in mind while celebrating a stable and bright future.”
 
The commitment and overall stability of the series will continue to allow INDYCAR future opportunities for an additional OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to join its mainstay engine partners.

News from INDYCAR: Harvest GP Race 1

Newgarden Trims Dixon’s Lead after Victory
in Fast, Furious INDYCAR Harvest GP

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Oct. 2, 2020) – Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden drove the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet to a statement victory in the stretch run of the championship race, winning the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1 Friday, Oct. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Two-time series champion Newgarden made a decisive move on Lap 60 of the 85-lap race as he pressured Colton Herta for the lead on old tires. Entering Turn 1, Herta locked up the tires and overshot the corner, handing the lead to Newgarden and putting him in control of the race with just 25 laps to go.

RESULTS:INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1

Newgarden ended up beating Alexander Rossi to the finish by 14.2940 seconds in a caution-free race filled with clean but aggressive driving by every athlete in the 25-car field. It was Newgarden’s third victory of the season and first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory at IMS.

“I don’t think I can think about the race; I’m so excited to be up here on this platform,” Newgarden said. “Thank you to everyone that came out. We had a rocket ship. I knew we did yesterday in qualifying. I was so surprised by how quick the car was. It was a great fight today. It was strategy, it was close combat, it was everything you wanted in an INDYCAR race, and I had the quickest car.”

Rossi scored a career-best finish on the IMS road course by placing second in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda. Pole sitter Rinus VeeKay scored his career-best NTT INDYCAR SERIES finish, third in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet. Herta, who led 29 laps, finished fourth in the No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda, and Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top five in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Newgarden, who is second in the series point standings, sliced 32 points from Scott Dixon’s lead and sits 40 points behind five-time series champion Dixon with two races remaining in 2020. The next event is Race 2 of this doubleheader, at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, live on NBC and the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network.

Newgarden’s big points haul was assisted by a tough race for Dixon, who won July’s GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course. Dixon was running seventh with two laps to go in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, but pressure from Graham Rahal in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda forced an error. Dixon went off course in Turn 7 and lost two positions, finishing ninth.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” Dixon said. “We just really struggled on the primary tires with the PNC Bank car today. We had a really bad start where Rahal just moved us out of the way. Once that got us out of line, we just started to fall back, and that really hurt. The other stint on blacks just really hurt us again for some reason. We must have lost 15-20 seconds. But that’s the way it goes some days, I guess. It was just really weird, and we need to get it figured out fast before Race 2 here tomorrow.”

Newgarden started the race in second and ran in the top three for the entire race before he capitalized on the Lap 60 mistake by Herta.

After he was passed by Newgarden, Herta came to pit road and started the final pit cycle of the caution-free race. Following the round of pit stops, Newgarden retook the lead and cruised to victory. It was his first win at IMS since he captured the 2011 Freedom 100 Indy Lights race on the 2.5-mile oval.

Newgarden’s previous best finish on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course was seventh in July’s GMR Grand Prix. It also marked Team Penske’s first win at IMS since team owner Roger Penske purchased the historic racetrack in January.

“He’s done such an amazing job with this facility, and to see people back here socially distanced in the stands at least getting to watch a race, I’m sure he’s really happy today, and I’m happy to be up here representing him and Team Penske, everyone at INDYCAR, IMS,” Newgarden said. “I’ve always wanted to get up here. I want to get up here during the ‘500,’ but this is cool.”

Although Newgarden led a race-high 34 laps and cruised to victory, the INDYCAR Harvest GP was an action-packed show for the socially distanced crowd in the first race with spectators in 2020 at IMS.

The race began with an epic battle between Herta and VeeKay, the two youngest drivers in the field at age 20. Herta started third, but he made a daring pass into Turn 1 on Lap 1 and passed VeeKay for the lead and led the first lap of the race.

VeeKay went toe-to-toe with Herta on Lap 2 and attempted a pair of daring passes before charging to the lead in Turn 7. VeeKay led the next 15 laps for his first ever laps led in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Following the green flag pit stop cycle, Herta returned the favor to VeeKay with more intense racing. After another pair of exciting pass attempts, Herta overtook VeeKay in Turn 7 on Lap 21.

As the laps wound down and Newgarden cruised to his third victory of 2020, the remaining drivers in the top five duked it out as Rossi and VeeKay charged to the front and Herta and Rosenqvist lost track position on older tires. The second- through fifth-place drivers finished within 4.164 seconds of each other.


‘What They’re Saying’ from the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1

1st – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “I don’t know that I can think about the race because I’m just so excited to be up here on the top of the podium. I wish I could’ve been up here in August (Indianapolis 500) for ‘The Captain.’ He’s done such an amazing job with this facility. To see people back here, socially distancing in the stands and getting to watch a race I’m sure makes him happy. I’m happy to be standing up here today representing him and everyone at Team Penske, along with everyone at INDYCAR and IMS. Thank you to everyone that came out here in cold conditions. We had a rocket ship. I knew we did yesterday in qualifying. I was surprised at how quick the Hitachi Chevy was, and it was a great fight today. It was about strategy, close combat, everything you want in an INDYCAR race. I felt like Team Chevy did an amazing job and having Hitachi onboard has been good luck for us this year. I’m just pumped to be up here. I’ve always wanted to get up here during the ‘500,’ but this one is just as cool. If we had a few races back where we caught bad yellows, we would really be in this championship fight. It’s almost a shame to see the deficit we had at times in the points because this team is unbelievable. They’ve been the quickest on pit lane all year. Everyone has done a great job, and they deserve to be in this championship fight. We still have a bit of a hill to climb, but we made it smaller today. I said we needed to have three perfect races to finish. One of them is down, and there are two to go.”

2nd – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda): “Having some things go right for us, things not go wrong, and I executed. We unlocked a bit of pace in the car. It took us a while to figure out the offset with the Aeroscreen, but I think our off-track development is getting there. Huge hats off to the whole entire Andretti Autosport organization and Honda. This place has never been good to us in terms of performance, so to get a podium here is awesome. We’re disappointed that we got a weird penalty and that we didn’t have a shot to come close to fighting Josef (Newgarden), but be that as it may, we’ll have another go at it tomorrow, and we have a good car. It’s great to be able to have the whole qualifying and race to learn off of, and then take what was good and what was bad and try at it again. We thought we had a good car, and in qualifying we didn’t get to use the red tires, so that’ll be interesting tomorrow morning. But at least we know have a fast race car.”

3rd – RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “Well, pretty good weekend so far. First pole yesterday, first podium today. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’m very happy with a podium finish. I struggled on the blacks (primary tires), but I had a great last 15 laps on the reds (alternate tires). I wish I could have done a little bit better, but a podium is a podium. Tomorrow is another day, we will have one less set of reds, but it’s 10 laps shorter of a race. Tonight, I’m happy.”

4th – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda): “The start and overall of the race was kind of what I was expecting because of the switch-up of tire choices and how a lot of people were starting on blacks and not so many on reds. I thought it would give a good chance in the second stint to move forward. In the end, we were just too loose. We wore out the rear tires and just didn’t have the pace to make the strategy work. We tried to do all we could and ended on blacks. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have the pace at the end, but we’re really happy with the Gleaners car and proud to carry the No One Runs On Empty message today. I hope everyone remembers that you can donate now, $0.88 a month at Gleaners.org, and help save 135 families from hunger.”

5th – FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “P5 ended up being good for us with points in the NTT DATA Honda, but we were up there mixing it up for P2 where we really wanted to be. It felt pretty good, but the tires started to fall off, and we didn’t have any push-to-pass left. We spent a lot of time around lapped traffic, and that hurt, for sure. And with that, I think we had to pass a lot more cars than we should have. That wasted a lot of time, but we want to be better for tomorrow.”

6th – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Man, that was a tough race. We had some great pace at different points, but we just didn’t have enough to fight for the win at the end. Congrats to Josef (Newgarden). That was a big win for the team and big for the championship. I think we learned a lot on the Verizon Chevy that we can apply in tomorrow race and hopefully fight for the win.”

7th – GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “It was a tough day. I spun early, and luckily it didn’t end up hurting us. We were able to pass a lot of guys today, but in the end, we had to go to blacks, and I think it hurt us and we also ran out of overtake. We still got Dixie (Scott Dixon) back when he made his mistake, but it was definitely hard. (Will) Power was flying hard. His straight-line speed was extremely strong, so it was hard for us to get by him. We’re back at it tomorrow morning. We will try to qualifying up front and give ourselves a better shot to try to win this thing get this United Rentals car up front tomorrow.”

8th – JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “I made a mistake in the pit lane and was a little bit too far to the left, and we weren’t able to flow fuel. We’ve never had something like that happen before, so that was a shame. I definitely thought that we had good speed that we’ll take with us tomorrow. There’s really no need to reset; we’ll just get the job done tomorrow.”

9th – SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I’m not really sure what happened. We just really struggled on the primary tires with the PNC Bank car today. We had a really bad start where (Graham) Rahal just moved us out of the way. Once that got us out of line, we just started to fall back, and that really hurt. The other stint on blacks just really hurt us again for some reason. We must have lost 15-20 seconds. But that’s the way it goes some days, I guess. It was just really weird, and we need to get it figured out fast before Race 2 here tomorrow.”

10th – MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think for us it was a decent race and a top 10 after starting from P15. I was wanting a bit better race, but the way it panned out, it just kind of was what it was. On the start, I had to get out of position to avoid the championship leader (Dixon). It felt like maybe we had some damage after that point and it felt strange, but it was a decent result and we have some work to do for tomorrow.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):

MARCO ANDRETTI (25th – No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda): “We were pretty optimistic going into the race. The AutoNation car came out of qualifying well, and we had a good start. I think had we not had to come in for the fire and the resulting damage we would have come home 11th, maybe even inside the top 10. 2020 has been a tough one on us, and we’re ready to get past it, but for now we’ll look ahead to Race 2. The guys have some repairs to do tonight, and we’re hoping to come back strong tomorrow.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (21st – No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): ” It was a non-race, really, tried to do whatever I could. At the start, it was a tough spot because basically I ended up being right behind Dixie (Scott Dixon) and didn’t feel like I wanted to be there and take any chances and because of that I just lost a bunch of positions. Started to go left, right, and that was a bit of a shame. Then we kind of hung in there for a while, but tire degradation for us was quite high. Just not using the tires right. We don’t have the balance — we’re really struggling. The whole race was a bit of a struggle. It didn’t get any better or worse; it just kind of stayed where it was, and I never found anything that seemed to dig us out of there. And it was tough because we didn’t have any push-to-pass, so defending was impossible. The second half of the race, we were a lap down and trying to get out of the way of the guys on the lead lap fighting for positions. Our pace wasn’t good enough to challenge for anything. Unfortunately, we’ve got some work to do, and we’ve to try to find something to give us a direction for next time we come back around.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (20th – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “It’s great to be back in a race car in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Arrow McLaren SP and Chevrolet did a phenomenal job by giving me the tools that I need. Obviously, we were a little off pace. However, it was great to understand what we need to do to learn about the car. We will make some adjustments for tomorrow. That’s the good news: We have another day to do it all over again.”

MAX CHILTON (11th – No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a long day out there – 85 laps of hard racing. I had a pretty good start, but then we had a situation on the first lap where I had to avoid an accident and take a shortcut, which then resulted in a penalty where I had to let a car past. Unfortunately, they made me give up the position in a place where more than one car got past. So that hurt us at the start, but after that we really had pretty good pace all day. I’d say I definitely did some of the best and most overtakes I’ve done in a race all year, if not in a really long time. We were racy out there, and we were able to work our way up from 15th after the unfortunate start to 11th , just missing out on a top-10 finish. It’s a little gutting to not get that top 10, but we’ve shown that the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet is quick, and luckily we get to do it all again tomorrow.”

CONOR DALY (12th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “We had a great start, but sadly got driven off by two other competitors in the second half of Lap 1. The 59 car (Max Chilton) and the 18 car (Santino Ferrucci) decided they didn’t want to leave a lane for me, even though I gave them plenty of room. Being sent off the track twice was a shame and really put us behind, but we had a great car and great pace. We started passing cars as soon as we got back going, which was nice. We tried to strategize our way forward. Our pace was really good on reds there at the end. We definitely have improved our car since the last time we were here. We just need to be able to get a fair qualifying session in tomorrow and try to start up front like our teammate – then go for it.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (15th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “We showed today the No. 18 SealMaster Honda had good pace even with a smashed front wing. We were having a really good race, just (Ryan) Hunter-Reay didn’t want to give up the inside going into Turn 2 and well … I wasn’t going to lift. Other than that, I’m really proud of the crew. On the last pit stop, it was nobody’s fault. One of the lug nuts got striped, and that’s that. All and all, I think we are ready tomorrow.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (14th – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “We kind of did what we could today, without any yellows and strategy to play that way. I think we played the tire game right and put on the right tires at the right time. The Gainbridge car was, honestly, pretty quick. We had a couple issues in the pit stop – I was a little far out, and we couldn’t get the fuel connected. That cost us a bit of time. But we made some stops up on track. Certainly not as much forward progress as we would have liked, but we learned a lot for tomorrow and hopefully we can start, and finish, higher up the grid tomorrow.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (19th – No. 28 DHL Honda): “We had a good start, picked up a couple of spots. Then (Santino) Ferrucci was coming up from behind, as he was on reds and we were on the slower primary tires. He made a late attempt at a pass around the outside and got about halfway up alongside, at best. He was still at my corner and he just decided to keep his foot in, and he went off track. It took us both out. It’s becoming a common theme with him – it happened at the last race at Mid-Ohio when he took out several cars. The good news is, at that point, we switched our focus to Race 2 and saved all our new red tires for tomorrow. So, I’ll be coming.”

SAGE KARAM (23rd – No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): “Actually, we got a good start and made up a few positions early. Then Charlie (Kimball) hit me off the track around Lap 4. He came over after the race and apologized. I was surprised by it that early in the race. Then we had a couple of weird issues on a few pit stops that hurt us. Our strategy for the race was pretty good when we pitted early (Lap 9). We got off the black Firestones and onto the reds. The Oil2Soil Chevy then ran some pretty solid laps. In the last stint, we put on sticker black tires, and the car really ran well. But we were too far back with the early problems. Now we’ll concentrate on Saturday’s qualifying and the race. The fuel pressure issue on Thursday kept us back from a full practice. That cost us some precious track time. We need all the track time we can get right now as a part time team.”

DALTON KELLETT (24th – No. 41 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I got kind of hung out to dry off the start, but we were there by Turn 4 with the rest of the pack. I was just being smart and sensible, trying to make smart moves. The pace in the first stint seemed relatively good. We were keeping with some guys making passes, so I was happy with that. Lost a bit of time as we were merging into traffic and trying to find a spot on track, so kind of cycled back there. And then the scuffed reds weren’t really kind to us. We didn’t have a good middle two stints on the black and reds, so we lost pace there. So, that was kind of the story of it. Then as we were pitting out for our last two stints, we were coming out into leader traffic, and that always costs you a lot of time as you’re trying not to impede others while being cognizant of your own race. So, that was a bit of a bummer. I think we’ve got some good data from today between the three cars, and Charlie (Kimball) was obviously much happier with his car so we’ll see what they did and compare notes and see what we can do for tomorrow.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (13th – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “First and foremost, it’s great to have fans back here watching us race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It seemed like it was a pretty awesome race from where I was sitting in the cockpit, looked like in some of the recaps there was some pretty great racing throughout the field. Big credit, huge credit actually, to the No. 4 team – those guys on pit lane, in all three stops, the strategy from the timing stand. You know at the end it was getting a little dicey, I think the 26 (James Hinchcliffe) and I were on two different sets of tires coming down to the close, but we were able to hold him off for 13th all the way up from 23rd  so felt like it was a really good day for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet. Big thanks to the AJ Foyt Racing crew for making the car better overnight from yesterday, and we get to do it again tomorrow.”

PATO O’WARD (22nd – No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “There is not much to say. It’s probably the worst day we’ve had all year. We just have to regroup tomorrow and try to go win the race. There’s nothing that we can do right now, honestly. For the rest of the year, we have to try to win as many races we can. There’s two more to chase. We will be going for it tomorrow.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (16th – No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “Congratulations to Josef on the win today. It was a great race out there today. We still have some work to do on the DXC Technology Chevrolet for tomorrow’s race, but we will get there. While things didn’t go our way today, it’s a great result for the team and good for the championship. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race, and hopefully we can end the weekend with another win for Team Penske.”

ALEX PALOU (17th – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “I made a mistake leaving pit lane after my first stop, so that set us back and pretty much cost us our race. There’s not much more to say. It’s a shame because our No. 55 Guaranteed Rate car was good, quite competitive. We discovered what our issue was yesterday in qualifying, so hopefully we can have a better qualifying run tomorrow and that we can start further up for Race 2 and give ourselves a better chance.”

TAKUMA SATO (18th – No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “It was a tough day. From where we were starting, we tried to go to a two-stop strategy, which according to the calculation was seven to eight laps short anyway. We hoped we could make some of the fuel number with yellows, but regardless, we couldn’t make it, so we had to shift to the three-stop strategy. But by the time we did, we lost so much time (on track). And then, of course, because we had to go to an aggressive downforce setting to make up places, but maybe we tipped over. The car was extremely tough to manage and also we lost one set of reds from yesterday, which hurt us. All in all, it was a tough race, but it was definitely great data for tomorrow’s qualifying and race. We need to qualify in the top 10. After today, all of the field will move up even tighter because they have all the data. But we believe we can be more competitive tomorrow.”

Rookie VeeKay wins first career NTT P1 Award at INDYCAR Harvest GP Race 1

NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Rinus VeeKay won the NTT P1 Award for his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position Thursday, Oct. 1 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

VeeKay, 20, posted a top lap of 1 minute, 9.6903 seconds, 125.992 mph in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet in Group 2 of qualifying for Friday’s INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR. Live coverage of the 85-lap race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course starts at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on USA Network.

“It was tough,” VeeKay said. “I was not very happy with the car this morning, but (Team Manager) Tim (Broyles) and I sat down and we found some great stuff. A lot of work was put in here. I put in a good lap, so I’m very happy with that. Finally, finally, my first pole.”

RESULTS: INDYCAR Harvest GP Race 1 Qualifying

Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden will line up alongside VeeKay in second. Newgarden, who is second in the point standings, was awarded one point for setting the fastest time in Group 1 with a time of 1:10.4706 in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Colton Herta qualified third in the No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda at 1:09.7048. Will Power qualified fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at 1:10.5686, and 2020 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole sitter Marco Andretti rounded out the top five at 1:09.7140.

The additional point for Newgarden could be beneficial in his quest for a third Astor Challenge Cup. Newgarden has steadily cut into points leader Scott Dixon’s edge over the last month. He entered this event down 72 points and will start Friday’s race with a deficit of 71.

Newgarden locked in the fastest time after a bit of luck.

With four minutes left in Group 1, Takuma Sato, the 2020 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner, went off track in Turn 4 and got stuck in a gravel trap, forcing a red flag. Sato was pulled out of the gravel and refired with 1:20 left in the session. However, with track cleanup still required, that brought an end to the session.

“That’s probably the luckiest we’ve been as far as yellow flags go this year,” Newgarden said. “I just wish we had gotten it in the race, but we’re not going to complain. We were quick on blacks (primary tires). The car felt awesome right out of the box. Some of the issues we were struggling with in practice were gone. You couldn’t see super well in Turn 12 or Turn 13, so you were guessing a little bit coming on to that front straightaway. But it made for an interesting session.”

With the lack of time in Group 1, Dixon was unable to return to the track to set a faster time in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon, who won July’s GMR Grand Prix at IMS, will start 12th.


‘What They Are Saying’ from the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1 Qualifying

1st – RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “It was tough. I was not very happy with the car this morning, but Tim (Broyles) and I sat down  and we found some great stuff. Great team. A lot of work was put in here. I put in a good lap, so I’m very happy with that. Finally, finally, my first pole.” (Can you get your first win tomorrow?): “That would be amazing. Yeah, of course, we’re going for that win now. But anything can happen. This a crazy track. Everyone is super-talented here. So, we’re going to do everything we can, but it’s not going to be easy.  What a great qualifying. A pole position, I can check that off my list. The only thing that should follow is a podium or a win. I would like to end the season with at least one of those, too. The SONAX car was fine on blacks (primary tires), but it really came alive on the reds (alternate tires). We made a little wing adjustment and had a great lap. We worked hard in the hours between practice and qualifying, then the car was amazing. I am very happy. Thank you to all of my guys, SONAX,  Autogeek and Chevrolet.”

2nd – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good day. Pretty happy with qualifying. Got a little bit lucky with the yellow. But I felt like we were quick on merit. We were quickest in that first group of attempts , so I felt really positive about that. I think we would have had a really good shot, if it didn’t go yellow, to get the pole, too. But a front row start for tomorrow is going to be great. The Hitachi Chevy honestly felt fantastic right from the start, which was a good turnaround from practice. Team Chevy has done a great job. Our straight-line speed looks fantastic, so I feel very confident for the race tomorrow that we can make it count.”

3rd – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda): “I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Obviously, we have a really good  starting spot with third. It’s going to be an interesting race tomorrow with how the windows work and all the strategy that’s going to happen with the (primary) blacks and (alternate) r eds. I’m interested to see what tires everyone starts on because I think it’s going to play a huge role in tomorrow’s race. Overall, a great starting spot of third for the Gleaners car, and I think we have a really good shot at a winning and creating even more awareness for the No One Runs On Empty campaign.”

4th – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good qualifying session. We were looking for more speed on the reds (alternate tires), but unfortunately the yellow came out when our group was on track and ended qualifying early. I think we could have found more speed had we had more time on track,  but that’s how racing goes sometimes. I feel really good about my Verizon Chevy for tomorrow’s race. We’re starting up near the front, which is great. We’re racing for wins, so we’re going to give the race tomorrow everything we got and will see what happens.”

5th – MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda): “We were on a pole lap for the second event in a row. Then it just snapped loose,  and we lost that tenth (of a second) we needed. It’s a bummer to come that close but a good effort by the 98 AutoNation team, nonetheless. The colder weather is definitely unique with both qualifying this late in the day and racing here this late in the year. It goes both ways: The tires take a little longer to come up (to temperature),  but there is so much downforce and grip that is favoring us. It’s actually better than when we were here in July.”

6th – JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “It’s definitely unfortunate that we never got an opportunity to get a lap on red (alternate tires) because I really think we had the pace for pole today. For this to have been our worst qualifying effort in three starts here isn’t so terrible. I’m really proud  of everyone at Meyer Shank Racing for continuing to work so hard because the thing I was worried about coming here was that people expect us to be good here. And everyone on the team worked so hard to put the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda as far forward as possible. Hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow and work through the field.”

7th – FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t piece together my last lap in the NTT DATA car out there. We’ve been good in qualifying this year,  but I just missed it this time and didn’t really nail it. I was just off the pole time, but P7 is roughly where we’ve been starting on the road courses, and we know we can win from there.”

8th – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda): “I’ve got to be honest: For the first time in five years around here, I feel like we have a pretty good car. I’m really happy  about that. The team did a good job. This (IMS road course) has been a big weakness for us. The NAPA / AutoNation Honda was good. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get to do reds (alternate tires) because of the red flag rules, but I think the car is really good and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

9th – MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a super positive qualifying for the Gallagher Chevrolet that could’ve been exceptional. It was unbelievably close out there. I knew it was going to be close because the group before us didn’t get a red (alternate tires) run in,  and they all were within half a second of each other. I made a slight mistake at Turn 4, but in general I was fairly happy with my lap. I need to look at it on the overlay to see if that mistake cost us compared to the next lap. Regardless I extracted a lot out of the car, and we worked really well  as a team today considering we only have one car and one practice session before qualifying and the races. Overall, we had a really strong day today, and I think starting ninth tomorrow puts us in a good position to move forward for a solid result.”

10th – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “Honestly, the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet improved quite a bit from practice to the little time we got in that qualifying session. That was definitely a positive,  but it was unlucky to get caught out by that red flag and we didn’t get any running on the red alternate tires. I think the car would have been strong on the reds. We will have to see what we can do tomorrow. We will have an extra set of reds since we didn’t really use them in qualifying. It should shake up pretty interestingly in the race.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with qualifying position):

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (16th – No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “A challenging day, just like we expected, maybe a bit harder than I wished it would have been. Happy to be back in the game and get to work with the AJ Foyt Racing crew. It’s a pretty steep  battle. We were trying to do the best we can; the first run on blacks (primary tires) was pretty reasonable. Had a massive lockup with the rear going into Turn 1, which fell a bit on me, but still managed a good fourth lap so that put us in the window in the top group. And then we never got a read on the reds (alternate tires), which is good  and bad because we just don’t know what the car’s going to feel like on the Firestone red tires. Good because we have two sets of brand-new tires to go in the race. We’ll see how it checks out.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (19th – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I have to thank everyone from Arrow McLaren SP, they did such a great job to accommodate all the little bits that a new driver needs to make everything OK , which is difficult. Everyone, including Robert Wickens and Oliver Askew, were working together to try to maximize the time we had the best we can because of the way the schedule is so compact. For me, it was great. It’s not fun to start in the back, but to this point, it is great to be back. Let’s go for the race; we are going to learn a lot, for sure.”

CONOR DALY (14th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “We made some great improvements from practice to qualifying. The U.S. Air Force Chevy was so much better. It was a shame we weren’t able to  run on red tires. Our time on black tires was actually better than our teammate’s, which is really encouraging because Rinus (VeeKay) has always been strong on the black tires. We had so much of a time gain on the reds when we were here on July 4th;  we were really wanted to see what we had this time. It is what it is, though.We know we have a good car. We made some great improvements. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun and we’ll go to the front.”

SCOTT DIXON (12th – No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think for whatever reason the PNC Bank No. 9 car just wasn’t as strong on the black tires this morning. Once we went to the red tires, it got going quite a bit , and we got into the top four or five. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, I guess. We didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe we should have tried something different with balance, but at the end of the day we have to keep going. The fight will still be on until someone locks up the championship,  so you have to keep digging deep and moving forward the best you can.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (15th – No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I’m pretty disappointed with today, to be honest. I think in practice today it was a bit challenging,  and I didn’t get the feeling out of the car I wanted. It still felt like we had potential for qualifying, and it just didn’t happen. It’s not where we want to be or should be, but we’ll work hard to improve the car for tomorrow.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (20th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “The SealMaster Honda would have been much better on the red (alternate) tires, however INDYCAR  decided not to extend the session after the red flag. We lost a lot of time during the practice session earlier today, and unfortunately that hurt us in the cold weather during qualifying. The race tomorrow should be super exciting because of the fans that are here.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (18th – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “It was an up-and-down day for us.W e still haven’t managed to set a single lap on the Firestone reds (alternate tires). We got a red flag in practice at the wrong time, and in qualifying, I tried something on my last lap on the black (primary) tires just to know if it was going to work on the reds , and I was on a lap that would have probably put us sixth in our group and then we didn’t get the chance on reds. I’m a little disappointed to be as far back as we are. I genuinely think we have more pace in the car. It’s tough jumping into a series that’s so competitive with so little track time. We’ve got 85 laps tomorrow to get the Gainbridge Honda to the front,  and that’s where we plan to go.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (13th – No. 28 DHL Honda): “Today wasn’t a straightforward day. We started the day with a setup that just wasn’t clicking for us,  and we had to bail on that for qualifying. I had to learn what this setup would give me as qualifying went on. I had the car snap loose on me coming out of Turn 13, and otherwise that would’ve put us at least in the top six or seven. The conditions are tough in the cold. Tomorrow will be interesting with cold tires; that’ll be a hotspot for everyone. I’m looking forward to working this 28 DHL Honda to the front.”

SAGE KARAM (21st – No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): “Qualifying was better than in July. I would love to be better. I thought we might be better,  but we had a fuel pressure issue in practice. That cost us almost three-quarters of the session. We never got to run on the Firestone red tires, so it was a blind shot going into qualifying. The car felt good in qualifying,  but I was a little frustrated. I would try too hard and miss a bit of a corner. I’d say, ‘Rats, it cost me a tenth here and a tenth there.’ Unfortunately, with the red tires, you get one shot for a good lap. Not having the ability to run in the full practice session really hurt us. It’s a doubleheader weekend, luckily,  and we learned from this qualifying. We’ll be ready for Saturday qualifying now. Friday’s race is longer than Saturday, and it gives us a different strategy. In July, our race car was good, and we had some bad luck with the yellow flag session. I think we have a pretty good race car after our runs during the July race. We hope we get a few breaks for Friday’s race, too.”

DALTON KELLETT (25th – No. 41 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I don’t think we quite hit the nail on the head in qualifying, just lacking a bit of rear stability, struggling a little bit and didn’t quite get everything out of the reds (alternate tires). Unfortunate that we’re not starting further up the  grid, but I think we definitely learned some stuff in practice, and I think we’ve got a solid race car. We’ve consistently had better race pace than qualifying pace this year,  so we’ll be looking to make spots on track and in pit lane, make some smart moves, get some passes done early on and the No. 41 crew will be solid in pit lane.So, hopefully we can jump some spots and move up for the race. For Saturday’s qualifying, we’ll be having a look at what Seb(Bourdais)  and Charlie (Kimball) were doing today and see if we can learn anything and if we can all get better as a team. I think there’s definitely some potential there, so looking forward to seeing what we can learn.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (23rd – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was just a really frustrating session for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevy. We had some really good pace, I think, earlier at times in practice, and even in qualifying, in similar laps to the competitors .We were a little more competitive in that fifth-sixth range, or so. Overall, for me, on that last lap when everyone seemed to take a big step forward and we got stuck at a lap time, we need to figure out what’s going on with that because it seems to be a bit of a frustration we’ve had all year. I know these guys will be really good in pit lane on the pitstops tomorrow  — that’s never a question in my mind. The A.J. Foyt crew works harder than anyone I’ve ever worked with, especially on the pit stops, so we’ll go forward in the race tomorrow and then re-evaluate what we need to do for qualifying on Saturday.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (22nd – No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a real shame that the session was truncated. Definitely not where I want to start. I’m not happy at all. The DXC Technology Chevy was OK . Just need to get on the red tires and put a good lap together. We’ll start in the back, but we’ll go forward. No question about that. These weekends are just too short. It’s been very difficult to adjust. It was a big disappointment today.”

ALEX PALOU (17th – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “The No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda was really strong in practice earlier today,  so I was optimistic heading into qualifying this evening. So, I’m disappointed with our qualifying result:There’s not much to say. The car felt OK, but the speed wasn’t there. The engineers are looking into it. I’m confident we’ll come back strong on the race tomorrow.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (11th – No. 15 United Rentals Honda):  “To say I’m disappointed with qualifying is an understatement. We ended up sixth in our group by only one-tenth-and-a-half or two-tenths of a second. It’s hard to swallow. You think about all the places that maybe you lost one-tenth (of a second). One-tenth (of a second) would have moved us up to second or third, so it’s a hard one to swallow. Coming from 11th place tomorrow is going to take some work,  but we’ve started in the back and finished third here before, so we can do it again. We just have to have good strategy, be able to get by some of these guys and hope our fitness comes into play and go from there. But when you look at the data, there’s two corners in the snake – Turn 8 and 9 –and literally that’s our loss to everybody ahead of us. We are quicker in every other part of the racetrack  but Turns 8 and 9, so I’ve got to figure it out and we’ve got to get the car a little better. We’ll try to get this United Rentals car up front tomorrow.”

TAKUMA SATO (24th – No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “The car was reasonably good in practice. After the session,  we felt we made good improvement. In qualifying, we were fifth in our group on black (primary) tires after the first run. It was great, but it was better than practice. On the second run, the tire wasn’t up to temp, and I was on the curb and lost grip and went off track. On the red (alternate)  tire, maybe I was relying too much on them and their grip. We lost a set of reds because of that, which is huge, because in the dry race, the red tire was more durable and faster.”

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Announces 17-Race Schedule for 2021 Season

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 1, 2020) – INDYCAR officials announced a 17-race schedule for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES, including expanded network TV coverage, two thrilling high-speed races at Texas Motor Speedway prior to the Indianapolis 500 and a return to its other pillar events.

The 2021 season will begin Sunday, March 7 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, marking the 10th consecutive year that St. Petersburg will host the launch of a new season. That event will be the first of nine races on NBC network television – a schedule that also includes the historic Grand Prix of Long Beach in April.

“We’re really pleased that the current plans provide for one additional race on NBC’s network than we had this year,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. “In particular, the season will start with NBC coverage of the St. Petersburg event, a spectacular start for those in attendance and for those watching from home.”

“The INDYCAR and NBC Sports partnership continues to be mutually beneficial, growing in viewership and providing adrenaline-packed entertainment to a national sports audience,” said Michael Perman, vice president, programming, NBC Sports. “We’re looking forward to providing increased exposure to the series in 2021, including network coverage of the season opener in St. Pete and the finale in Laguna Seca. Additionally, as a marquee event of our Championship Season, we’ll also provide wall-to-wall coverage of the Indy 500 on NBC, an international sporting spectacle filled with speed and exceptional drama.”

WHAT’S NEW

For the first time, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will race at the Texas Motor Speedway in the month of May during a doubleheader weekend Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2. The move places a crucial oval on the schedule before the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, scheduled for Sunday, May 30.

“The changes in Texas are important and exciting,” Miles said. “To have not just one oval race, but two, before racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May is strategically very important to the growth of the event, as well.”

The summer months kick off with the Detroit doubleheader moving to the second weekend in June, Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13, while the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will host INDYCAR during the July 4 holiday weekend.

In August, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES enters an important stretch, with consecutive races on a street course, road course and an oval highlighting the audacious athleticism required to win a championship. That important run begins with INDYCAR’s debut on the on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee, for the first Music City Grand Prix on Sunday, Aug. 8. The three-day international festival of speed and sound will be staged on a temporary grand prix circuit in downtown Nashville and around the Nissan Stadium campus – home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to race on the streets of Nashville, which we think will be a blockbuster event in its first year,” Miles said. “It’ll help raise the bar – not just for great racing – but for a great festival around INDYCAR.”

Just six days later, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES once again will join NASCAR’s famous Brickyard weekend, returning to the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 14.

“After the proof of concept this year,” said Miles, “we look forward to having an INDYCAR Grand Prix during the Brickyard weekend – and inviting fans be a part of it. We know the strong Midwest affinity for INDYCAR racing and the love for INDYCAR drivers will help that weekend reach new levels.”

The three-weekend stretch culminates with a return to the oval at World Wide Technology Raceway, Saturday, Aug. 21.

INDYCAR TRADITIONS RETURN

Several traditional races return in 2021. Over half of the events on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule have been on the calendar for 16 or more years, with Long Beach and Mid-Ohio (36 years) leading legendary visits to Detroit, Road America, Toronto and Portland International Raceway.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season champion will be crowned Sunday, Sept. 19 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, wrapping up the season on NBC.

2021 event start times will be announced at a later date.

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