Archive for March, 2020

By: Jeff Majeske – Jeff’s Indy Talk

A few weeks ago I recounted the history of the Norton Companies’ involvement with Penske Racing from 1974 through 1982.

The first Norton Spirit actually appeared in the 1973 Indianapolis 500. Longtime car owner and builder Rolla Vollstedt brought the company to Indianapolis that year in a car to be driven by Bill Simpson, the legendary safety innovator.

Also in the Vollstedt stable was another rookie, Tom Bigelow. Bigelow, an excellent midget and sprint driver, temporarily squeezed into the field on the last day of qualifying, then saw his Bryant Heating and Cooling Special squeezed out by Jim McElreath in a Norris Eagle entered by Champ Carr Enterprises. (Champ Carr’s shenanigans in 1973 are worth a separate story at some point.)

Here’s what the 1973 Norton Spirit really looked like when Bill Simpson drove it. At the back, the radiators are more streamlined while at the front the nose looks a lot like that year’s Parnelli — Photo credit: Unknown

Simpson also failed to qualify, due in part to a hard crash in Turn 2. Here’s a quick description of the wreck from Simpson’s excellent book “Racing Safely, Living Dangerously”:

It knocked the engine out of the car and just about knocked my brains out, too. I mean, it rang my bell pretty good.

In this chapter Simpson also recounts how the team was able to get the back-up car together and up to qualifying speed (or thereabouts), then felt he got aced out of potentially getting a chance to qualify on the last day by a little do-si-do by one of A.J. Foyt’s backup cars in the line. (Simpson did make an attempt late in the day, but was yellow-flagged after two laps averaging 183-plus.)

In those days, you could be in line to qualify and let another car go ahead of you. Remember also that, unlike today, cars had only three attempts total for the month. So the idea would be that if you had a car that was showing only marginal speed in terms of making the race, you waited until almost the last minute before going out to qualify.

Of course, cars also could cut in front of you if you weren’t proceeding expeditiously to the front of the line. Simpson apparently thought Foyt, who put George Snider in the car to qualify, snuck in ahead. Simpson was known to fly off the handle in such moments and said some uncomplimentary things about Super Tex. One of Foyt’s larger crew members got wind of this and the result was that Simpson was thrust head-first into a trash can – a fitting conclusion to his Month of May.

The upshot of all this drama was that Vollstedt’s team – and more importantly, his two sponsors, Bryant Heating and Cooling, and Norton – were on the sidelines.

Bryant Heating and Cooling ended up sponsoring Bob Harkey on the Lindsey Hopkins team. Norton went to the Grant King entry driven by Steve Krisiloff.

King was one of the more interesting and colorful car owners and builders of this period, creating cars that he named the Kingfish. The one he designed and built for the 1972 Indianapolis 500 seemed to be, ahem, inspired by the McLaren cars of the previous year.

For 1973, King seemingly dropped all pretense and pretty much copied Dan Gurney’s Eagle. Gurney reportedly wasn’t thrilled by this whole imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery routine, but probably realized that King was a small fish, so to speak, and he would come off looking like the bad guy if he complained too loudly.

Besides, King wasn’t selling his creations to anyone else. Had he done so, Gurney likely would’ve loudly objected – with good reason.

Krisiloff did an excellent job in qualifying, nailing down the seventh starting position in what was then an unsponsored, all-red No. 24 entry.

The eventual Elliot’s Norton Spirit as it appeared after Steve Krisiloff qualified the Grant King entry seventh — Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

With Norton coming aboard for race day, the Kingfish was repainted sky blue. Krisiloff backed up his fine qualifying effort by finishing sixth in the rain-shortened, tragedy-filled 1973 Indianapolis 500

And here’s how the Elliott’s Norton Spirit appeared on race day for the 1973 Indianapolis 500. Steve Krisiloff finished sixth — Photo credit: Kettle Moraine Preservation & Restoration

The entry was renamed the Elliott’s Norton Spirit. So that’s why if you look at the qualifying photos of this car, it’s red, while on race day, it’s sky blue. In any event, any top 10 showing in the Indianapolis 500 is an excellent result, even more so for a small team.

For the 1974 Indianapolis 500, Krisiloff moved on to the Patrick Racing Team, driving the No. 60 STP Gas Treatment Eagle-Offy. King, who was known to give promising rookies a chance, took a flyer on a former educator from Spokane, Washington, named Tom Sneva.

Sneva’s potential was apparent early in the 1974 season when he qualified second at Trenton. At Indianapolis, the man who eventually would be dubbed the Gas Man when he drove for Texaco years later, started eighth, ran in the top 10 in the early part of the race, then dropped out after 94 laps, finishing 20th.

Sneva continued to charge throughout the rest of the 1974 season – so much so that he attracted the attention of Roger Penske. Sneva joined the Penske team for 1975. His car? The Norton Spirit.


Wilbur Shaw won his first Indianapolis 500 in 1937 — Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By: Jeff Majeske — SpeedwaySightings Managing Editor

This May, the Indianapolis 500 will be run under new leadership for the first time since World War II as Roger Penske takes the helm. Penske’s record-breaking success as a car owner (18 victories, including the last two with Simon Pagenuad and Will Power) and global stature as an accomplished businessman has fans optimistic about the future of the race, the track and the NTT IndyCar Series, all of which are now his.

From the 1976 Indianapolis 500 program …

Penske bought everything from the Hulman-George family, of course. Tony Hulman purchased the dilapidated facility, which had been almost totally neglected during World War II, on Nov. 14, 1945. Under Hulman’s leadership, the Indianapolis 500 bloomed again in the postwar years, grew in stature and defined automobile racing in the United States, if not the world.

That legacy might not have been possible if not for the efforts of one man: Wilbur Shaw. Shaw, who was born in Shelbyville, which is about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis, was the first to win the 500 back-to-back in 1939 and 1940. These wins followed his first victory in 1937. Shaw finished second in 1938 and crashed because of a wheel failure while leading in 1941, so he came close to winning the 500 five times in a row.

Still, his greatest achievement might have come after he hung up his goggles. Shaw was heartbroken when he saw the condition of the track while testing a new synthetic tire for Firestone during the winter of 1944-45. That heartbreak soon turned to determination, and then action to save the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as Shaw recounted in his autobiography, “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.”

But, to me, the track was the world’s last great speed shrine, which must be preserved at any cost. I felt that all I was, or ever hoped to be, I owed to the Indianapolis 500-mile race. I accepted the situation as a personal challenge and started a one-man crusade to get the job done.

Shaw, of course, succeeded in persuading Hulman to buy the track from Eddie Rickenbacker. It remained in the family’s possession until Tony George, Hulman’s grandson, approached Penske about buying it last year.

As a sort of tribute to Shaw, I had a shirt made inspired by his 1937 winning car, the Shaw-Gilmore Special. This Gilmore had nothing to do with Jim Gilmore, a longtime sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s cars during the last half of Super Tex’s career.

This trading card offered one of the few clues to the car’s color scheme.

Instead, it was the Gilmore Oil Company of California, which had slogans like “Roar With Gilmore” and used a leaping lion to promote its products. (Roscoe Turner, a barnstorming pilot and an important aviator who lived in Indianapolis, touted the Gilmore line as well and actually flew with a real lion, named, naturally, Gilmore. Turner also served as an official at the Indianapolis 500 for many years.)

Hulman wisely named Shaw the President and General Manager of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and certainly his leadership was a key reason why the Indianapolis 500 rebounded so quickly. Shaw died in a plane crash in 1954. How much more he could have accomplished is something to ponder, but all Indianapolis 500 fans are forever grateful for Shaw’s love of the race, the track and his determination to save it for future generations.

This might be this year’s raceday shirt.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 11, 2020) – The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opens this weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden won last year’s race on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit, but he will have a host of strong competition for this year’s honors among the 26-car field. This marks the 10th consecutive year that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will serve as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener, dating to 2011 in a race won by Dario Franchitti.

Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be the first of 17 races this season, with five held on temporary street circuits, seven on permanent road courses and five on oval tracks, the latter including the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The season concludes Sept. 20 with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at the historic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

The 100-lap Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network also will have live coverage on its more than 300 network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205,, and the INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT DATA.

Friday practices are set for 10:45 a.m. and 3 p.m., with coverage on NBC Sports Gold. NTT P1 Award qualifying begins at 2:40 p.m. Saturday on NBC Sports Gold. (tape delay on NBCSN, 10 p.m.)

Here are “5 Things To Look For” heading into the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:

Newgarden wins in St. Pete

Department Of Defense”

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet) returns to defend not only his victory in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but also the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship, his second in three years.

Last year, Newgarden became the first driver since 2014 to use a victory in St. Petersburg as a springboard to the season title. He is looking to become the first series champion to repeat since Dario Franchitti won three in a row from 2009-11.

To wear both crowns again, the 29-year-old Nashville, Tenn., driver must fend off strong challenges from as many as five former series champions, led by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Honda), a five-time series champion. Other past champions include four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais (No. 14 AJ Foyt Chevrolet), 2012 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) of Andretti Autosport, 2014 champion Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) and 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Chevrolet).

“We have the same goals,” Newgarden said. “We need to try to win the Indianapolis 500 as a team, same thing with the driver’s championship. It will go in that order.”

Also, 12 drivers entered this weekend have won NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, six of whom have more than 10 career victories. Last year, seven drivers representing five teams won races, with 18 drivers posting a top-five finish in a given race.

Oliver Askew on pit road

“Ranking Rookies”

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES had quite the battle last year among its rookies, with Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda) and Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Honda), finishing sixth and seventh in the championship standings, respectively.

Herta won a pair of races (Circuit of The Americas, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca) and Rosenqvist posted a pair of runner-up finishes (Mid-Ohio, Portland International Raceway) en route to earning Rookie of the Year. They also combined to win four poles.

Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 SealMaster Honda) also was impressive in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, nearly completing every lap during the 17-race season while finishing seventh in the Indianapolis 500 to earn Rookie of the Year and finishing fourth in three other oval-track races. Will this rookie class be just as successful? It very well could be among those running full-season schedules with Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) (shown here) and Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) having finished 1-2, respectively, last season in Indy Lights.

Also, keep an eye on Alex Palou (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda). Last year’s Super Formula Rookie of the Year is the driver Newgarden tabbed as the most likely to win the Rookie of the Year award. “He’s probably got the most experience of everybody,” Newgarden said.

Scott Dixon

New Leader In The Clubhouse”

With Tony Kanaan (No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) set to run a five-race oval schedule in his final season as a primary driver, his all-time INDYCAR record for consecutive starts will officially end at 317 with no start in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The streak began at Portland in 2001 and concludes with the 45-year-old Brazilian’s start in last season’s season’s season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The new active leader for consecutive starts would become Scott Dixon (shown here), who has made 258 in a row heading into Sunday’s race. That current streak by the five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion also ranks as the second longest in the sport’s history behind Kanaan. Marco Andretti (No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Honda) has made 234 consecutive starts, which ranks third all time and will become the second-longest active streak behind Dixon.

“Man I haven’t really thought about that. I thought TK was real old, but what does that really say about me now?,” the 39-year-old Dixon said. “Seriously though, I think we all still love seeing TK compete and know what he’s meant to the sport over his long and successful career. It will be weird not having him on the grid this weekend. I’m not sure I’ll ever reach the mark he set … that’s a ways away for sure. TK has been a great ambassador and champion for INDYCAR over the years and I hope to carry on the streak for years to come and maybe that will be with the PNC Bank car in victory lane Sunday.”

Aeroscreen new for 2020

“Getting A Handle On It”

One of the first orders of business this weekend will be to decode the different handling characteristics associated with the installation of INDYCAR’s revolutionary Aeroscreen. While the Aeroscreen will improve cockpit protection, it alters the aerodynamics of the cars with about 70 additional pounds in road course configuration.

With that comes the feeling of the weight moved forward and a higher center of gravity.

“It’s definitely different,” Alexander Rossi (No. 27 Auto Nation/NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) said. “But the extent of that won’t become clear to us until probably (following two 45-minute practices) in St. Pete.”

Newgarden said he expects everyone to approach the new style different.

“I think you’re going to see people power sliding the car a lot more, being aggressive on the throttle, maybe slide the car a bit more friendly and get away with it,” he said. “That could be quite exciting, especially on a street course.”

The Aeroscreen will make its competition debut in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Fans at the 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

“Park It Here”

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, one of four street events for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, could be called a weeklong downtown festival, and it begins with the “Party in the Park” on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. in North Straub Park, positioned between Bayshore Dr. NE and Beach Dr. NE along the waterfront.

The unique fan experience is free and will bring drivers on stage, with giveaways every 15 minutes, a deejay, food trucks and fireworks.

This is the 16th time for the series to race in St. Petersburg, the 10th consecutive year it’s been the season opener.

Dixon said there are few events like the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“I think it just has the combination of everything, and it’s the first one (of the year),” he said. “The city really embraces the race, too, which I think is really special. It’s the general size of the event, the viewing areas, the downtown atmosphere … an all-around top race to go to.”


INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit

INDIANAPOLIS (March 11, 2020) – This is the final entry in a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for Friday through Sunday on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: Team Penske.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Starting Lineup …

Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet), Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards/DXC Technology Chevrolet), Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet), Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge), Scott McLaughlin (No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet for the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway).

2019 Recap …

It’s always a strong season when a team wins the Indianapolis 500 (as Pagenaud did) and the series championship (as Newgarden did). The team won nine of the 17 races with Newgarden leading the way with four, Pagenaud with three and Power with two. The trio also won eight poles and finished first, second and fifth, respectively, in the standings. Castroneves joined for the two Indianapolis races, finishing 21st on the road course and 12th on the oval. McLaughlin raced in Australia, winning his second consecutive Virgin Australia Supercars Championship along with the prestigious Bathurst 1000.

What’s New for 2020 …

The presence of McLaughlin is the most high-profile addition. Newgarden’s car will carry No. 1 as the reigning series champion. Due to his purchase of the series, owner Roger Penske will step off the timing stand for Power’s No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet as Ron Ruzewski takes on the role as strategist for the team.

Keep An Eye On This …

Power is coming off two wins in the final four races of 2019 and will be motivated after finishing outside the top three in points for only the second time in the last six years.

Season Outlook …

Team Penske should be squarely in the hunt for its third consecutive Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and third NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship in the past four years. The question is, which driver will have the best chance? Newgarden has won seven races over the past two years and will be seeking his third series title in four years. Pagenaud has admitted to being personally relieved to have his first 500 victory, but he is driven to win more races and series championships. (Interestingly, Newgarden and Pagenaud each have 14 career wins in the series.) Power, with 37 victories, can tie Al Unser for fifth place on the sport’s all-time wins list with two more.

“A Different Breed” Notable …

Power will go down as the fastest INDYCAR qualifier of his generation. He has 57 career poles, averaging 4.9 per season since becoming a full-time Team Penske driver in 2010. That ranks him second on the sport’s all-time list behind Mario Andretti’s 67. Among drivers participating in this week’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Sebastien Bourdais has 34 career poles, Scott Dixon 26 and Pagenaud 13.

Team President’s Take …

“When you look across all the series in which we compete, 2019 was one of the most successful in Team Penske’s history. Winning the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with two different drivers, while placing all three entries in the top five, demonstrates the depth of our team. That said, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in NTT INDYCAR SERIES history. We’re excited to have three series champions returning to our team along with the opportunity to win the Indianapolis 500 with Helio (Castroneves) for the fourth time. In addition, it will be fun to watch Scott McLaughlin get acclimated to driving an Indy car. He has proven that he is a special talent and I think he is capable of big things in the future.” – Tim Cindric


INDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series known as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including five-time series champion Scott Dixon, reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The season, which runs from March to September, currently consists of 17 races in the United States and Canada and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge held annually in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Fast FactsRace weekend: Friday – Sunday.Track: Streets of St. Petersburg, 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit (clockwise) through downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, including a runway of Albert Whitted Airport.

Media Links: Entry List (PDF) | Trackside Media Guide (Interactive 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. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower for 2020.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate.

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

Event website:

INDYCAR website:

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).

NBCSN race telecasts: Qualifying, 10 p.m. ET Saturday (tape delayed); Race, 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday (live). Pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m.

Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Michael Young reporting from the pits. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205,, and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on and the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also airing on Sirius 216 and XM 205.

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 live-streaming product.

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


10:45 – 11:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice #1, NBC Sports Gold

3 – 3:45 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice #2, NBC Sports Gold


10:45 – 11:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice #3, NBC Sports Gold

2:40 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Qualifying (Three rounds of knockout qualifications), NBC Sports Gold (live) and NBCSN (taped delayed until 10 p.m.


10:25 – 10:55 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Warm-Up, NBC Sports Gold

2:30 p.m. –  NBCSN pre-race show begins

3:23 p.m. –  Command

3:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag (100 laps/180 miles), NBCSN (live)

Race Notes:

  • This will mark the 10th consecutive year that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has served as INDYCAR’s season-opening race. Dario Franchitti won the inaugural season opener at St. Pete in 2011. 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.
  • Kanaan’s all-time record streak of 317 consecutive race starts will end this weekend. The streak began in June 2001 at Portland. Dixon has made 258 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak and now will become tops among active streaks.. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 234 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak all time and now will move to second among active streaks..
  • 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 46, but has never won at St. Petersburg. He has four runner-up finishes at the circuit, including last season.
  • Will Power (2010,’14) and Bourdais (2017, ’18) are the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Helio Castroneves won three times (2006, ’07, ’12), while Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and ’16. Past winners Graham Rahal (2008) and 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 Power. Past pole winners Bourdais (2003), Rahal (2009) and Takuma Sato (2014) are also entered this weekend.
  • Two drivers have won the race from the pole – Castroneves (2007) and 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 Castroneves (2012), Power (2014), Montoya (2015-16) and Newgarden (2019).
  • Five rookies are entered and three – Oliver Askew, Felipe Nasr, Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay — will make their first NTT INDYCAR SERIES start this weekend at St. Petersburg. The other Rookie of the Year candidate entered is Ben Hanley.
  • Since 2012, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has averaged nine different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were seven different winners in the 17 races of 2019.

Global Leader in Filtration Products Set with Driver Sage Karam in No. 24 WIX Filters DRR Chevy

GASTONIA, N.C. (March 10, 2020) – WIX® Filters announced today it has expanded its involvement with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing as the chief technical partner in 2020, including sporting its black and WIX yellow colors in two NTT INDYCAR SERIES events with young driver Sage Karam at the controls of the No. 24 WIX Filters DRR Chevrolet entry.

With more than 80 years of production, the global manufacturer of filtration products will enter its eighth campaign in a multi-level partnership with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, including serving as the Official Technical Partner and Oil Filter of the team.

In 2020, WIX Filters and the DRR team will participate in the 104th Indianapolis 500, set for May 24 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Karam driving as well as at the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13-15, as the primary partner on the No. 24 DRR Chevy. In addition, WIX Filters has been a partner in the championship-winning DRR’s Rallycross squad in recent years.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the WIX Filters expansion with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing after many years of a successful association at the world’s biggest motorsports event, the prestigious Indianapolis 500, and other racing outlets,” said Jeff Blocher, Director of Sales and Marketing for MANN+HUMMEL. “Our relationship with Dennis Reinbold’s team and Sage as a driver has been outstanding, and we wanted to expand our successful technical involvement with additional NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in 2020. The DRR team is very experienced and works very well with our WIX Filters engineers to give our company great feedback on and off the track. Sage is one of the top young open-wheel stars in North America and we look forward to seeing Sage battle at the front of the IndyCar Series field in the No. 24 WIX Filters race car.”

Motorsports organizations have trusted the performance and quality of WIX Filters for over 50 years, and in return, the various racetracks provide superb testing grounds for the WIX engineers.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which has entered and qualified 40 cars in the Indy 500 dating back to 1999, has given Karam impressive machines to battle in the famed Indy 500 including winning the “Hard Charger” Award as a rookie in 2014. Last year, DRR fielded two drivers in the 103rd Indy 500 with Karam in the No. 24 WIX Filters car and veteran J.R. Hildebrand in the No. 66 Salesforce car.

“We cannot thank WIX Filters enough for our outstanding association entering its eighth year with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team and now expanding our team’s participation in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES this year,” said DRR team owner Reinbold. “WIX Filters has made valuable contributions to the racing industry for decades as well as being a leader in its category for over 80 years. We are working very hard to put WIX Filters in victory lane with Sage and produce a contender for the winner’s podium.”

Reinbold has also indicated that his organization is working on plans to compete in additional NTT INDYCAR SERIES races yet to be announced, as the Carmel, Ind.-based team seeks additional partnership for selected events.

The sensational racing legacy of the Dreyer & Reinbold families dates back to 1927 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with legendary car builder Floyd “Pop” Dreyer, who built cars for the entire front row in 1931. Reinbold, Dreyer’s grandson, has qualified every car he has entered as car owner in the Indy 500 and has recorded four top-10 finishes including a best of fourth in 2012.

Karam, the 25-year-old racer from Nazareth, Pa., was an Indy Lights series and F2000 series champion before his “rookie” performance at the Indy 500 in 2014 for DRR. Since 2014, Karam has qualified for every Indy 500 including five events for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. In addition, Karam drove the WIX Filters ARX Rallycross Lights car to a feature victory last year at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

 “Needless to say, I’m so happy to have WIX Filters back on my No. 24 car for 2020 and to expand our NTT INDYCAR SERIES race schedule with the St. Petersburg and another race,” said Karam, who recently tested the WIX Filters DRR Chevrolet on the road course at Sebring, Fla. “It’s exciting to continue the DRR relationship with WIX for the Indy 500 as we look to win that prestigious race. WIX Filters is well known around the world and in numerous forms of motorsports. I have enjoyed working with the staff on and off the track including promoting a strong digital presence. Aligning with an industry leader like WIX is an honor, and our WIX Filters IndyCar livery will be another crowd-pleaser this year too. I’m ready to go.”

              Karam will make his 2020 debut in the No. 24 WIX Filters DRR IndyCar in the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday, March 13 with the season-opening feature set for March 15 at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Qualifying rounds for the 104th running of the Indy 500 are scheduled for Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17. The start for this year’s Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 24.