The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration, honoring newly crowned title-winner Simon Pagenaud, will take over downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, October 4th.

Simon Pagenaud kisses the Astor Cup after winning the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Title at Sonoma Raceway -- Image by Joe Skibinski

Simon Pagenaud kisses the Astor Cup after winning the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Title at Sonoma Raceway — Image by Joe Skibinski

Monument Circle in the city center will buzz with INDYCAR activity throughout the day. Team transporters will line the south side of the circle beginning at 11:30 am, along with the Indy cars of Pagenaud & Alexander Rossi, winner of the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May.

Also on display will be the Astor Cup, the trophy presented annually to the Verizon IndyCar Series champion since 2011, and the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy featuring the likeness of every Indianapolis 500 winner.

At 12 noon, the first 250 fans are invited to enjoy a free lunch on the circle, provided by Qdoba Mexican Eats and hosted by Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Company, parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The transporter display will remain open to the public throughout the afternoon.

100th Running of the Indy 500 Champion Alexander Rossi -- Image by Joe Skibinski

100th Running of the Indy 500 Champion Alexander Rossi — Image by Joe Skibinski

Verizon IndyCar Series drivers will begin walking the red carpet at 5 pm entering the Hilbert Circle Theatre, site of the awards ceremony with a capacity crowd expected. Fans unable to attend the Championship Celebration are invited to gather on the circle to watch their favorite drivers and VIPs arrive.  Pagenaud, the Team Penske driver who won 5 races to wrap up his first title, will be presented the $1 million champion’s prize and the Astor Cup during the awards ceremony beginning at 6:45 pm following a 5:30 pm reception inside Hilbert Circle Theatre.

INDYCAR will host Facebook Live chats with drivers and VIPs throughout the day’s activities on Monument Circle.

A live video stream of the Championship Celebration will be available on IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Facebook page, beginning at 6:45 pm.

2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration

Where: Hilbert Circle Theatre — 45 Monument Circle, Indianapolis, Indiana  46204

When: Tuesday, October 4th

Transporter Display – Monument Circle — 11:30 am

Qdoba Mexican Eats Luncheon on Monument Circle — 12 noon

Red Carpet Activities — 5 pm

Championship Celebration Reception — 5:30 pm

Championship Celebration — 6:45 pm

(All Times – ET)

Gate 9 is the entryway to an entertaining weekend full of high-octane thrills at the first Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Oct. 1-2. All fans heading to the Speedway are encouraged to use Gate 9 to enter the event.

The Fan Midway, with concessions, merchandise, a “Learn to Fly Zone” and Red Bull athlete demos are located just inside of Gate 9. Seating for the event is in the North Vista, Northeast Vista and Northwest Vista grandstands, just beyond the new Fan Midway and closest to Gate 9 as well.

“Believe it or not, IMS is turning into a fully functional airport for our entire Race Weekend,” IMS President Doug Boles said. “This transition has moved all of our seating and fan activity zones into the North end of the facility, making Gate 9 the primary access point to the track on Saturday and Sunday. The most talented and daring pilots in the world are just days away from taking to the skies above IMS, and the best way to be part of the action is to follow just a few simple planning steps outlined on the IMS website and mobile application.”

Gate 10 will also be open for the event and is a second option for entry that is near both the Midway and spectator seating. Paid parking for each event day will be available in Lots 1A, 1B, North 40 and Lot 8. These lots are just north of 25th Street and best accessed by adding 30th Street to your driving route. Given the location of parking, seating and activity zones, fans should use 30th Street rather than 16th Street for the easiest trip to the Speedway this weekend.

More information on the Red Bull Air Race at IMS, including a daily schedule, maps, gate regulations, facility hours, driving directions and more can be accessed via www.ims.com/planyourvisit and the IMS mobile app. Gates open at 10 a.m. on both days. Tickets are still available for this inaugural event and can be purchased at www.ims.com/tickets.

About Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 

In 2016, the Racing Capital of the World returns to its aviation roots, hosting the inaugural Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The weekend will feature the best pilots in the world hitting speeds of over 230 mph and pulling nearly 10 Gs. Red Bull will also bring the world of action sports to IMS, with top athletes performing demos in disciplines such as slacklining, moto trials, sportbike freestyle, and MTB.

Created in 2003 and officially a world championship in 2005, the Red Bull Air Race has held over 65 races and is watched by millions of fans. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile lightweight racing planes, pilots navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 82-feet-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was introduced, giving new pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills. But one thing remains the same; The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is the most thrilling motorsports competition in the sky.

Roger Penske congratulates his driver Simon Pagenaud on winning the both the Sonoma IndyCar Grand Prix and 2016 IndyCar Championship - IndyCar Image by Joe Skibinski

Roger Penske congratulates his driver Simon Pagenaud on winning the both the Sonoma IndyCar Grand Prix and 2016 IndyCar Championship – IndyCar Image by Joe Skibinski

SONOMA, Calif. (Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016) – Simon Pagenaud put the exclamation point on a sensational breakthrough season, winning today’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to clinch his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship in impressive fashion.

Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet for Team Penske, won the 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway by 3.2523 seconds over Graham Rahal. The dominating performance saw Pagenaud lead all but nine laps and clinch the series crown by 127 points over teammate Will Power.

“I tried to take my future in my destiny by being aggressive and going as fast as I could,” Pagenaud said. “Clearly we had a phenomenal car, I think a very dominant car today, so we could do that.

“I just enjoyed driving today. It was an incredible day and I think it just shows the strength of the 22 team for the whole season.”

Pagenaud started the race from the pole position and surrendered the lead only during pit stop cycles in winning for the fifth time this season and ninth of his Indy car career. Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was running second to Pagenaud until a clutch malfunction stopped his car on track on Lap 36. Power fell eight laps off the pace while repairs were made and finished the race in 20th place, but retained second in the championship for the fourth time in his 12-year Indy car career.

“It was obviously disappointing to have that gearbox problem,” Power said. “I think Simon was going to be tough to beat as far as the championship goes. Maybe we could have beaten him for the (race) win, but I doubt it if everything just played out as it was. But honestly it was still a very strong year,” added the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, whose wife, Liz, is expecting their first child in the off-season. “Four race wins. I won a 500-mile race (at Pocono). Not the right one (the Indianapolis 500), but still a 500-miler.”

The championship was the 14th in Indy cars for Team Penske, celebrating its 50th anniversary in racing this year, and the race win was the team’s 187th in Indy car competition – more than any other team. Pagenaud, who set a track record in qualifying on the 2.385-mile permanent road course Saturday, etched his name into the Sonoma books again today with his average race speed of 101.181 mph.

Pagenaud now enjoys the spoils of the championship, including a $1 million prize and official presentation of the Astor Cup that will take place Oct. 4 at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration in Indianapolis. It gives the 32-year-old Frenchman two weeks to let the magnitude of his accomplishment sink in.

“It’s unbelievable,” he admitted. “I think I will realize it more tomorrow. There is so much emotion right now, to be honest, I can’t find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level.”

Team Penske completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the championship when Helio Castroneves finished seventh in the race to edge Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Josef Newgarden by two points in the standings. It marked the first time the same team took the top three championship positions since Penske also accomplished the feat in 1994 with Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy.

With his second-place race finish in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda, Rahal advanced to fifth in the championship – the highest-placing Honda driver.

“Good day, good way to end it,” said the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver. “I wanted to get Pagenaud, but when I’d get behind him, I’d get massively loose. I thought at one point it was best I salvage a second place rather than do something stupid.”

As he did in winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, Alexander Rossi ran out of fuel and coasted to the finish line today. He was passed by Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth place, but still secured Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the season just as he did for the Indy 500.

Chevrolet, which won 14 of the 16 races this season, also clinched its fifth consecutive manufacturers’ championship by 104 points over Honda. Chevy has taken the honor every year since manufacturer competition resumed in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012.



The Verizon IndyCar Series has a lot to celebrate this season. Following the sold-out historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, there is no better place to commemorate the conclusion of the 2016 campaign than The Racing Capital of the World.

Drivers, team owners and fans will gather October 4tj at Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis for the annual INDYCAR Championship Celebration. The awards event to honor the Verizon IndyCar Series champion driver and team has been held in San Francisco and Los Angeles the past three years. It last took place in Indianapolis in 2012.

Hosting the event in Indianapolis is especially appropriate this year, according to Team Penske driver Will Power, the 2014 series champion who, along with teammate Simon Pagenaud, is in hot contention for the title again.

“It’s always fitting, but more so this year, for the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration to be in Indianapolis,” said Power. “It’s been a celebration there all year with the 100th Running of the Indy 500. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great time of the year to be there.”

Indy cars and their transporter trucks will be parked on the south side of Monument Circle on the day of the event. Drivers, motorsports celebrities and awards presenters will make red carpet entries before the festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. ET on October 4th. Fans are invited, too.

Through INDYCAR Nation, the official fan community of the Verizon IndyCar Series, tickets are now being provided to all INDYCAR Nation members at no cost. To sign up for INDYCAR Nation and reserve your free tickets, head to http://indycarnation.indycar.com to register.


Ryan Hunter-Reay comes in for tires and fuel on pit lane during the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway — IndyCar Image by Bret Kelley

SONOMA, CALIF. (Sept. 18, 2016) – Andretti Autosport and DHL Express announced today the extension of their partnership which began in 2011. The world’s leading express services provider will remain the primary sponsor on the No. 28 Andretti Autosport IndyCar through 2020.

“Our relationship with DHL grew out of a partnership that dates back to 2005,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “To see this partnership develop and continue over a 15-year period, through 2020, is the result of hard work by both companies in support of DHL marketing, sales and B2B objectives. It also reflects the strength of the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 properties.”

In addition to this partnership extension, the Indianapolis-based, four-time Indy 500 and IndyCar Series Champions confirmed that series veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay will pilot the DHL-sponsored machine for four years beyond this weekend’s 2016 season finale.

“The speed, reliability and dedication that Andretti Autosport, Ryan Hunter-Reay and the DHL IndyCar team exemplify are a mirror image of the qualities that enable DHL to be true to our motto of ‘Excellence, simply delivered’,” said Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express Americas. “It’s an impactful way to engage our customers as well as employees with a world-class racing experience.”

“Since we first teamed up with Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2011, the partnership has been one of the most powerful ways for us to connect our global brand with the public,” said Christine Nashick, Chief Marketing Officer for DHL Express Americas. “We are thrilled to continue this partnership for a decade, and with Ryan as our brand ambassador.”

Hunter-Reay, 35, is ranked as the most successful American driver currently racing in open-wheel competition today, with more wins than all of the other current American IndyCar drivers combined. With over 200 IndyCar race starts, the Florida-resident holds 16 wins, 36 podiums, and 96 top-10 finishes.

“I can’t express how pleased we are to be able to announce that Ryan will be returning through 2020,” added Andretti. “Ryan is one of the top – if not the top – driver in the series, and has been a leader within the team since he started with us in 2010, winning in only his third race. Ryan has won 13 races, an IndyCar Championship and the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport, and I have no doubt this partnership will put us in a position for further success.”

“I couldn’t be happier about this announcement and the opportunity to continue with Andretti Autosport as an ambassador for DHL,” said Hunter-Reay. “These next four years will take us to nearly a decade-long relationship with DHL and a full 11 years with the team. We’ve won 13 races together, the Indy 500 and the IndyCar Championship and we’re going to do a lot more together. Over the years we have become more of a family than just a team and sponsor. I’m proud to represent this group and this brand and am looking forward to the milestones yet to come.”

Hunter-Reay will take to the wheel of the No. 28 DHL Honda today for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The 2012 Series Champion has finished second the last two years at Sonoma Raceway, and will be pushing for the win at 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale. Catch all of the championship racing action live from Sonoma Raceway at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Simon Pagenaud crests the Turn 3A hill during qualifications for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at -- Photo by Chris Owens

Simon Pagenaud crests the Turn 3A hill during qualifications for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at — Photo by Chris Owens

SONOMA, Calif. (Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016) – Simon Pagenaud wasn’t about to let up, even with a generous lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship heading into the last race of 2016, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

The Team Penske driver continued his qualifying mastery and will start from pole position in Sunday’s season finale, winning the Verizon P1 Award today at Sonoma Raceway. Pagenaud’s lap of 1 minute, 16.2565 seconds (112.594 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six – the third and final round of knockout qualifying – earned the Frenchman his seventh pole of the season and extended his points lead to 44 over teammate Will Power.

With Sunday’s 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 11-turn permanent road course paying double points, Pagenaud needs to finish fifth or better in the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet to clinch his first career championship.

CLICK HERE  —  GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Qualifying Results

Pit lane comes to life prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma -- Image by Chris Jones

Pit lane comes to life prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Image by Chris Jones

“Today I just think we just, again, showed strength,” Pagenaud said. “That’s what it was all about, to show if we are to win the championship, we deserved it on many points.”

Pagenaud, who broke Power’s 2015 track record in Segment 1 of qualifying with a lap of 1:16.2530 (112.599 mph), led a Team Penske sweep of the top four qualifying positions. It provided a bookend to the season since the Penske foursome accomplished the same feat in qualifying at the season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“(Qualifying) was about preparing the car for the red Firestone tires,” Pagenaud said, “which we know I’m always more comfortable on those tires so I can always extract a little bit more from myself.

“We had good balance on the car. The first lap we put the red Firestone tires on, I went on the radio and said, ‘Wow, this is going to be good.’ We were able to replicate the lap time every time. Unbelievable that we could actually replicate the lap time in the Fast Six with used tires.”

Helio Castroneves, the 2008 Sonoma winner, will start second in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet after logging a lap of 1:16.4134 (112.362 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six. Juan Pablo Montoya will start third in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (1:16.5400, 112.177 mph).

Power, a three-time Sonoma race winner and five-time pole sitter at the track, was fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet (1:16.6659, 111.992 mph). The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion is the only driver who could overtake Pagenaud, but knows the task became more difficult today.

“That’s all I could do in qualifying, that was everything I and the car had,” Power said. “It’s a long race. I think it’s going to be a race of degradation. It’s going to be really interesting the way the tires go.

“Last thing we need now is a straightforward race because Simon will be tough to beat if that’s the case. Honestly, I need to win the race to win the championship, and he has to have a bad day.”

The pole position is the 245th in Indy car history for Team Penske, celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. Pagenaud’s seven pole positions are the most in a season in the era of the current Dallara IR-12 chassis and most since Power collected eight poles in 2011.

Graham Rahal was the top non-Penske qualifier, fifth in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1:16.7149, 111.921 mph). Ryan Hunter-Reay was sixth in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport (1:16.9132, 111.632 mph).

Scott Dixon, the two-time defending Sonoma winner and reigning series champion, barely missed reaching the Firestone Fast Six and will start seventh in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Final 30-minute practice scheduled for 2:30pm ET Sunday (streamed live RaceControl.IndyCar.com) – Coverage of the 16th and final race of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season to determine who will be presented the Astor Cup and earn a $1 million prize begins at 6:30 pm ET Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.


Roger Penske, John Menard, and Simon Pagenaud at Sonoma Raceway announcing their sponsorship extension into 2017 — Image by Joe Skibinski

Menards Extends Sponsorship with Penske to 10 Races in 2017

Team Penske and Menards announced an extension that will keep the Midwest-based home improvement store chain as a primary sponsor on Simon Pagenaud’s Verizon IndyCar Series entry for 10 races in 2017. Team owner Roger Penske, Menards owner and founder John Menard and Pagenaud were on hand to discuss details of the deal this morning at Sonoma Raceway.

The Penske-Menards partnership began this year with what was originally announced as a three-race deal. It included the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis that Pagenaud won and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, and was eventually extended to five races in 2016. That number will double next season.

“Today, as you know from a sponsorship perspective, to find the right sponsors who have the right integrity, want to support the sport, it’s difficult,” Penske said. “I think that we’re very fortunate to have someone that understands it. (Menard) understands we don’t win every weekend. Hopefully we have a record that is meaningful as we go forward.”

Menard explained that Pagenaud is a great fit for the brand because his family ran a similar business in his native France.

“The stuff he’s done with our suppliers and our customers and our team members, I mean, he’s great,” Menard said. “He’s warm, he’s gracious. People just like him and that’s what we’re looking for in a spokesperson and that’s what we’re looking for in 2017.”

Pagenaud was proud to be able to continue in the bright yellow car in 2017.

“For me, being able to be part of this incredible livery is very special,” he said. “I feel very honored to be that driver. Luckily we got a win out of the way right away at Indianapolis (in the grand prix), which was very important to John, very important to Roger and the whole team as well. It was an incredible start of a great relationship.”


Chip Ganassi Racing Faces Busiest Weekend in Six Racing Series

Chip Ganassi Racing is the busiest of all race teams this weekend. A total of 14 CGR cars and 18 drivers are entered in races across six diverse series: the Verizon IndyCar Series at Sonoma Raceway, the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series at Chicagoland Speedway, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and Red Bull Global Rallycross in Seattle.

It is the first time that CGR will have all of its operations competing on the same weekend. For a company that competes in four vastly different racing disciplines, it takes a well-coordinated effort to make everything come together. Mike Hull, the team’s managing director, says that the people working in each entity are the key.

“The logistics to be able to run multiple entries in multiple series is all about the people that manage and operate within the sphere of each of these programs,” Hull said. “Each one has to be self-reliant and it’s a matter of having really good people in every position and having the people operate as one group of people.”

The team has already had an impressive season, scoring 10 wins across the disciplines including a monumental class win with the Ford GT at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The most recent CGR victory came with four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen presented by Hitachi on Sept. 4.

Dario Franchitti, now a retired driver serving as a driving coach with CGR’s Verizon IndyCar Series program, won three of his four Indy car championships and two of his three Indianapolis 500s with Ganassi. He also won sports car races and drove in NASCAR for the team.

“When you look back to where Chip’s business all started back in 1990 with a one-car Indy car operation, it’s very impressive to see the racing empire he’s built,” Franchitti said. “Running 14 cars in six series across the globe doesn’t just happen overnight. You have to have strong partners and first-class team personnel supporting you along the way. Decent drivers don’t hurt, either.

“It’s one thing to just field that many cars, but I think Chip would be most proud of the fact that he’s won this season in each of those series. That is no easy feat, by any means.”


Firestone Racing donates $20,000 to four charities dear to INDYCAR

Firestone Racing announced that it is making season-ending donations to four charities closely related to INDYCAR.

The Verizon IndyCar Series’ official tire supplier is making donations of $5,000 each to: the Wilson Children’s Fund that supports the family of the late Justin Wilson; the Indy Family Foundation, which helps members of the racing community in need; the USAC Benevolent Fund in memory of short-track star and three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Bryan Clauson; and the Dan Wheldon Foundation that supports the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Championship weekend is a perfect time to reflect upon and celebrate everything that has happened over the past season,” said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “The motorsports community is one big family and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. We wanted to take the opportunity afforded by this weekend to honor those individuals who embodied the spirit of racing and their legacies that live on through all of the great work these organizations do to help others.”