This could be Josef Newgarden’s month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The sixth-year Team Penske driver and two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion won his first Ruoff Mortgage Pit Stop Challenge on Friday, and he hopes to add his first Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge to his resume on Sunday.
Newgarden and crew of #2 Shell Team Penske Chevrolet led by chief mechanic Travis Law beat NTT P1 award winner Scott Dixon (#9 PNC Bank Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing) in the final of the annual 12-team Miller Lite Carb. One-day contest in front of a noisy gathering at Tower Terrace.
The Newgarden crew were indeed perfect in their three assists. Its slowest was 11.569 seconds; his fastest 10.948 seconds, the latter being the only race under 11 seconds in the event.
The winners ousted Dixon’s side, 2-0, in the best-of-three final round, the first sweep of the finals since the format was adopted in 2017. They beat the crews of Alex Palou (No 10 NTT DATA Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing), Pato O’Ward (#5 Arrow McLaren SP) and Dixon successively.
The victory brings Team Penske’s Pit Stop Challenge record to 18 wins, the same number the team won in the “500” – also a record. Fifty years ago, Roger Penske’s organization won its first 500 with Mark Donohue at the wheel.
Law led Helio Castroneves’ crew to victory at the event in 2015 and 2016. Crew #2 took home $50,000 in prize money today out of a $100,000 prize pool.
The Pit Stop Challenge was first held in 1977. Dixon’s crew won three times.
Newgarden said the energy of the crowd in support of the event reminded him of the good old days at IMS.
“The energy is great to feel again,” he said. “Not just the whole month leading up to it, but Carb Day…I can’t even wait for race day. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like, and it’s going to be so good. »
Malukas, Herta Experience Turn 1 Accidents
The crews of Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Andretti Herta Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian) and rookie David Malukas (No. 18 HMD Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD) have some work to do in preparation for the Sunday’s race due to Turn 1 crashes in Carb Day practice.
The session was limited to 90 minutes due to late morning rain. Herta had the more damaging of the two accidents, the rear of the car broke and hit the wall and the incident ended with Herta upside down. He was uninjured and subsequently withdrew from the Pit Stop Challenge.
“I feel a bit of sadness for this race car,” Herta told NBC. “We were loose the whole session. I went too fast for the corner and the air entered below. I’m doing well. It looks like a pretty big shunt.
Herta credited the aeroscreen for helping keep him safe.
Malukas was attempting an inside pass on Santino Ferrucci (#23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Chevrolet Screamin Sicilian DRR at Palermo) when they made wheel-to-wheel contact, flattening Malukas’ right rear tire. Ferrucci was penalized for avoidable contact. The penalty was a stop and hold for 20 minutes during practice.
Malukas said he had a small bruise on his left foot, but he otherwise escaped injury.
“It was a very big hit, one of the biggest I’ve felt,” he said. “For some reason (Ferrucci) refused. My tire went flat; you can’t do much with a flat tire at those speeds.
Malukas said he made a similar move on Dalton Kellett (No. 4 K-LINE/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) two laps earlier without incident. Ferrucci accepted responsibility.
“I’m glad he’s okay, first of all,” he said. “Big hit. He was coming, I heard observers. It was a late blast; it was past the turning point for me. I checked; I thought I had timed it right.
“Clearly (I) didn’t. It’s my mistake. That’s the way it is.”
Coincidentally, Ferrucci drove for Dale Coyne’s car for two years and was in the #18 entry in 2020. Additionally, former INDYCAR SERIES driver and Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Pancho Carter is Malukas spotter. ; Carter’s son, Dane, is Ferrucci’s. Both Carters work from Round 1.
McLaren invests in the INDYCAR team
McLaren Racing will have a larger footprint in central Indiana with the construction later this year of a new facility for Arrow McLaren SP, which will expand to three full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES teams in 2023. will be located north of IMS, in Whitetown.
The new building will more than double the size of the current facility, with more than 97,000 square feet and a “significant number” of high-quality jobs.
Sustainability will be central to the design and construction, with green features. The opening is scheduled for 2023. McLaren’s facility in Woking, England, is a centerpiece of Formula 1.
Pato O’Ward, who was confirmed on Friday to a contract that will keep him with the organization through the 2025 season, has seen plenty of benefits for the facility.
“I have my own parking spot,” he laughed. “It will be a perfect and beautiful mini-McLaren (headquarters). I am really proud to be part of this organization.
Rahal hopes 33 is the winning number
Bobby Rahal was 33 years old when he won the “500” in 1986. His son, Graham, is… 33 years old.
The numerology is not lost on the rider of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s #15 United Rentals Honda.
“My dad and I have had a lot of weird similarities in our careers,” said Rahal, who starts his 15th race from outside line 7. “It’s been very weird.
“I have to look at the superstitious nature (of this) and leave.”
Rahal felt his first ‘500’ win should have come last year, when he and his team worked the fuel strategy perfectly to put him in the lead on lap 79, and he was leading when he crashed. stopped on lap 119. But that’s when the rear wheel came off and he crashed into turn 2.
“I knew, I knew we were in a good position,” said Rahal, who said the pain of this loss is set to last for years. “It’s bad, and I constantly try not to think about it, but ask me in 10 years when (my career) will be over. … If I never get an Indy 500 win, this race of 2021 is going to sting for a long, long time.
“The single worst day of my life was the day after Michigan lost.”
Rahal is an avid and die-hard Ohio State football fan.
Three IMS Hall of Fame inductees
Danny Sullivan, the driver who performed one of the iconic moments in ‘500’ history when he spun and won the 1985 race, was one of three Hall of Fame inductees. Indianapolis Motor Speedway during a ceremony downtown Thursday night.
Sullivan won the INDYCAR SERIES championship in 1988, the season the Penske team swept the front row with pole winner Rick Mears and Al Unser.
Wally Dallenbach, who later served as the show’s chief steward, and legendary broadcaster Paul Page were also inducted. Dallenbach twice qualified on the front row at IMS and finished in the top five three consecutive years (1976-78).
Page called the induction “the greatest award of my life.”
- Callum Ilott (#77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet) ran the most laps in the practice session, with 68. Newgarden turned 62, with four more 61.
- Judy Dominick, the Chevrolet publicist who has represented many racers including Tony Stewart, and TE McHale, who has represented Honda in recent years, received the Robin Miller Award for their unique, exciting and tireless contributions to the sport. Miller and McHale have passed since last year’s “500”.
- Kevin Diamond, who has represented numerous racing teams participating in the “500”, was honored with the Russo-Marvel Founders Award for his longstanding dedication to motor racing.
- Amy Walsh-Stock, who works with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and first 500 starter Jimmie Johnson, and Steve Shunck, who represents BorgWarner, were co-winners of the annual Jim Chapman Award for Excellence in motorsport public relations. . Johnson was on hand to support Walsh-Stock.