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Masks To Be Mandatory; Race To Air Live in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, July 22, 2020) – Officials from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today released a detailed 88-page plan they have put in place to welcome the estimated 25 percent of capacity crowd expected to attend the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, Aug. 23.

Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. president & CEO, also announced that this year’s race will air live in Indianapolis on NBC, allowing more Hoosiers to watch in real-time from their homes.

“Everything will be different about this year’s race, from the reduced crowd size, to a new distanced seating arrangement, to mandatory masks and a live broadcast throughout Central Indiana,” Miles said. “We will welcome fans to the ‘500’ based on a highly detailed, careful plan that was developed in collaboration with national, state and local health experts.”

The plan was developed over the last four months by a team of Indy officials and national health experts, including Dr. Edward Racht, chief medical officer of Global Medical Response, the largest emergency medical services provider in the nation. It has also been approved by the Marion County Department of Public Health subject to continued review.

“The IMS plan has been developed in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health, and reflects the current best practices and mitigating steps outdoor venues should have in place to host public events,” Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said. “It meets or exceeds all local guidelines and is approved subject to continued review. I appreciate the serious and collaborative approach IMS has displayed throughout this process.” 

“The IMS plan is detailed and extensive and takes all the right steps to ensure the best measures and precautions are in place,” Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said. “Speedway officials have been transparent and communicative throughout this process, and we appreciate the opportunities we’ve had to provide input.”

Highlights of the plan include:

  • Attendance will be at approximately 25 percent.
  • Seats will be reassigned to provide for greater distancing.
  • Masks will be mandated throughout the entire venue, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Everyone will be screened with a contactless thermometer, and individuals with a temperature in excess of 100.4 degrees will be prohibited from entering the Speedway.
  • All drinking fountains and misting stations will be removed.
  • Capacity limits on elevators will be enforced.
  • Options from concession stands will be limited to mostly pre-packaged foods.
  • To reduce crowding, many activities will be eliminated, including all concerts, the VIP Red Carpet and the Indiana Press Foundation’s Last Row Party.
  • To help the venue and community prepare for Indy 500 Race Day, all Saturday activities, including Legends Day at IMS and the downtown 500 Festival Parade, have been canceled. Key 500 Festival programming will transition to digital platforms.
  • Signage will be displayed throughout the venue to encourage healthy practices, and staff will move about the facility to monitor conditions and assist customers.

The plan dives deeply into facility sanitation, cleaning and disinfecting practices, and workforce preparation training and deployment.

“We think it’s important to welcome race fans to the ‘500’ and to demonstrate that America, Indiana and Indianapolis do not need to shut down,” Miles said. “We can and will operate with every precaution we can think of as we welcome fans to the race. We will continue to work with our local and state health officials to ensure we’re doing whatever is necessary to protect our fans.”

NEWTON, Iowa (July 18, 2020) – Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden proved Iowa Speedway might just be his best racetrack on the schedule as he put on a dominating performance Saturday night to win Race 2 of the Iowa INDYCAR 250s Doubleheader.

Newgarden became the first INDYCAR driver to win at Iowa Speedway from the pole, easily driving to his first win of the season and 15th of his career in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. It’s the first time Newgarden has won a race since capturing last year’s race at Iowa 363 days ago.

Two-time series champion Newgarden beat teammate Will Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to the checkered flag by 2.7869 seconds. He averaged 135.900 mph.

Newgarden’s win completed a sweep of the doubleheader on the 7/8th-mile oval by Team Penske, as Simon Pagenaud won Friday night after starting last.

“Feels really good,” said Newgarden, who finished fifth in last night’s Race 1 despite leading 68 laps. “I don’t know what we’ve got to do to keep the bad luck off us, but hopefully this is a good start.

“Our guys did an amazing job yesterday. I was so disappointed for them. I was angry for them because I thought they had the winning car. They put in the work and weren’t able to get rewarded for it. I was so determined to come back today. I think everyone was determined to come back and have a really good race, and we just ran hard. We ran hard all day.”

Newgarden is no stranger to success at Iowa Speedway. He earned the third win at Iowa of his career, with his previous wins coming in 2016 and 2019. The track is now tied with Barber Motorsports Park as Newgarden’s winningest racetrack. He also solidified his position as the all-time lap leader in Iowa with 1,115, a total padded by leading 214 of 250 laps Saturday night.

Rounding out the top three behind Newgarden and Power was Graham Rahal, scoring his second podium of the season in the No. 15 Hy-Vee Honda.

Pagenaud finished fourth in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet after starting last, and five-time series champion Scott Dixon, last night’s runner-up, finished fifth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda after starting 18th in the 23-car field.

Newgarden’s determined drive to Victory Lane started from the drop of the green flag. He led the first 56 laps and only relinquished the lead during a green flag pit stop cycle. He retook the lead on Lap 63 and held on until the next round of green flag pit stops came at Lap 106.

Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Newgarden faced his strongest challenge from Pato O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion. O’Ward started the race 12th and quickly charged to the front, settling into second position on Lap 67.

O’Ward kept his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet in Newgarden’s rear-view mirror for a large chunk of the night, closing the gap to within half a second just past the halfway point in the race. But O’Ward had a slow pit stop on Lap 172 that ruined his chances of challenging Newgarden for the win.

O’Ward and his team attempted to undercut Newgarden and pit early, hoping the fresh Firestone tires would put O’Ward ahead of Newgarden. During the stop, the car was dropped from the jack before the left rear tire could be secured. O’Ward drove off and stopped just past his box. His team rolled him back into the pit box to secure the tire, but any chance he had at challenging Newgarden for the win was over. He finished 12th, the first driver one lap down.

Shortly after O’Ward’s pit road mishap, the second caution of the night came out on Lap 180 as three-time Iowa winner Ryan Hunter-Reay lost control of his No. 28 DHL Honda exiting pit lane and hit the inside wall. The 2012 series champion’s night was ended, and he finished 22nd.

Hunter-Reay’s incident didn’t deter Newgarden as he easily drove away from the field on the Lap 193 restart and never looked back.

The performance elevated Newgarden into third in the series standings, 53 points behind points leader Dixon and four points behind second-place Pagenaud.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES drives into a two-week break after a grueling stretch of five races in three weekends. The series will be back in action Sunday, Aug. 9 for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

NEWTON, Iowa (July 17, 2020) – Simon Pagenaud charged from last to first to win Race 1 of the INDYCAR Iowa 250s Friday night, July 17 at Iowa Speedway.

Pagenaud held off Scott Dixon by .4954 of a second for his first win of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Pagenaud started last in the 23-car field after a fuel pressure problem prevented him from making a qualifying attempt earlier in the day.

It’s the first time a driver has won from the last starting spot on the grid since March 2017, when Sebastien Bourdais drove from the rear to the front of a 21-car field to win the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“This place is tough,” Pagenaud said after his 15th career win and his first at the 7/8th-mile oval. “What a night. What a day for us. First of all, amazing group effort from the whole Team Penske to recover from Road America. We unloaded really well. This morning was a lot of fun. Qualifying was disheartening, but these guys never give up. That’s what this team is all about.

“I can’t believe it. I have to rewatch the race. How did I get there? I don’t know. But the last 50 laps were certainly a lot of tension. When (Scott) Dixon is chasing you, you better hit your marks.”

Pagenaud’s win for Team Penske ended Chip Ganassi Racing’s dominant start to the season in which Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda won the first four NTT INDYCAR SERIES races. Five-time series champion Dixon opened with three straight wins in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with Rosenqvist earning his first career victory last Sunday at Road America.

Rookie Oliver Askew rounded out the Iowa podium Friday night with a third-place finish in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, marking the best-career NTT INDYCAR SERIES finish for the defending Indy Lights champion.

“I wish you could see my smile right now,” Askew said. “This Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet came alive once the track started to get cooler. We were really good on new tires and when they were very used. If that yellow didn’t come out on the restart there (on Lap 156), I think we would have had a really good shot at finishing at least 1-2 with Pato (O’Ward) and I. We’ll go get them tomorrow, but I’ll sleep really well tonight. Honestly, that’s probably one of the funnest races I’ve ever done in my life.”

Askew’s teammate Pato O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion who scored his career-best finish of second last Sunday at Road America, drove his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish. Defending series champion Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

2016 series champion Pagenaud wasted no time making his march through the field. Within the first 10 laps, Pagenaud already had made his way into the top 15. The long green flag runs throughout the 250-lap race opened the field for strategy that helped Pagenaud and other drivers gain ground from the rear.

A caution period on Lap 144 allowed leader Pagenaud to pit for the final time and get fresh tires for the run to the finish. He retook the lead from O’Ward on Lap 178 with his fresher Firestone tires.

As the end of the race neared, Pagenaud’s rear-view mirror was filled with Dixon’s orange-and-blue Honda. But the Frenchman held off the late charge from the Kiwi and led a race-high 83 laps on the night, including the final 72. He averaged 132.220 mph.

Askew, who was charging hard on the freshest tires among the leaders, finished 7.2128 seconds back.

Series points leader Dixon also drove through the field from a low starting spot after qualifying 17th.

Felix Rosenqvist wins the REV Group Grand Prix Race 2 at Road America Sunday, July 12, 2020 — IndyCar Image by Chris Owens

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Felix Rosenqvist outdueled Pato O’Ward in a thrilling late-race battle to score his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory in the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader Race 2 on Sunday, July 12 at Road America.

Rosenqvist’s drive in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda ended the undefeated start to the 2020 season by his teammate, Scott Dixon. But the 28-year-old continued the dominating start for Chip Ganassi Racing, which has won all four NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season.

“It feels so good,” Rosenqvist said. “It’s been a long time. We’ve been close so many times. This race was for my 10 car crew, the NTT DATA crew. Also Honda. I’m really proud to be powered by NTT and Honda this year. It’s been really good. Every race just hasn’t had a lock, just hasn’t come together until now. Today we went all for it. Super pace, the car was fantastic. It’s four out of four for Ganassi, which is huge.”

2019 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year Rosenqvist completed a stirring comeback to pass O’Ward on the second-to-last of the 55 laps of the race, pulling away to win by 2.8699 seconds at the checkered flag. His previous-best finish was second last year at Mid-Ohio and Portland.

O’Ward dominated the day in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, winning the NTT P1 Award for pole in qualifying this morning and leading 43 of the 55 laps. But as the end of the race neared, O’Ward’s used Firestone red tires, the alternate compound option, began to fall off and allowed Rosenqvist to close the gap quickly. Still, 2018 Indy Lights champion O’Ward, who is racing in his first full-time season, scored his best career finish in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

“I gave it everything, every little bit I had,” O’Ward said. “I was pushing, pushing, pushing, but I just couldn’t keep Felix behind me. I really want to thank Arrow McLaren SP, Team Chevy. The car was really, really good. We just missed that little extra in keeping the rear tires under us. But we’re here.

“We got some good points this weekend, and we’re looking forward to Iowa. We like running up front. I think we showed that we have everything to do it. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

Following Rosenqvist and O’Ward on the podium was Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda with his best finish of the season after a rough start to the year. Rossi’s previous best finish this season was 15th at the season opener June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Marcus Ericsson finished fourth for his third straight top-10 finish and his best result of the season in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Colton Herta rounded out the top five in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda. Herta is the only driver to score a top-10 finish in every race this season. The consistent start to the year leaves him second in the series standings, 54 points behind Dixon, whose three-race win streak ended with a 12th-place finish in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Rosenqvist proved to have one of the fastest cars all day long. He started seventh and found himself in the top five quickly. He spent most of the afternoon hunting down O’Ward, who jumped out to a lead as large as nine seconds at one point.

A problem during a pit stop hindered Rosenqvist’s drive to the front. The jack dropped while the left front tire was not secured. The crew had to jack the car again to fasten the tire, and Swedish native Rosenqvist lost all progress he had made on Mexican driver O’Ward.

Rosenqvist’s chase resumed after the pit road mishap with a 7.5-second gap to O’Ward. He closed the gap to around five seconds when he made his final pit stop on Lap 43, two laps later than O’Ward’s last stop. Rosenqvist exited pit road with a 5.4-second gap to O’Ward with 12 laps to go.

But Rosenqvist continued to chip away at O’Ward’s lead, helped by more durable Firestone black (primary) tires and a joust between O’Ward and the lapped No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet of Conor Daly over the final stint, which put O’Ward in turbulent air and cost him time.

Rosenqvist caught O’Ward on Lap 54 and made a thrilling pass for the lead exiting Turn 5.

Rosenqvist looked to the outside of O’Ward but then backed out and went low, pulling a crossover move on O’Ward. The two raced side-by-side toward Turn 6 just inches apart from each other. With the momentum, Rosenqvist cleared O’Ward in the next corner and sailed to the checkered flag for his first career victory in North America’s top level of open-wheel racing.

“It was a lot of hard-earned seconds there that we lost in the pit a couple of times,” Rosenqvist said. “But we had so much pace. We kept closing in half a second every lap. And then when they said Pato was on the used reds, you obviously get a lot of faith that he might drop off in the end, and that’s what happened.

“Just stay cool, and then we went for it, really. Used all my push-to-pass on one lap and got him. So, it was a really good fight with him there. Got a little squirrelly coming out of Turn 5 there, but good show and good fun.”

The scintillating finish between Rosenqvist and O’Ward capped a race that was eventful and exciting from the start. In Turn 1 on the first lap, multiple veteran drivers saw trouble and had their days ended.

Heading into the first corner, Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay and the No. 28 DHL Honda. The contact sent Hunter-Reay spinning into the corner, ending the 2012 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion’s day and resulting in a 22nd-place finish.

The contact had a ripple effect as Santino Ferrucci, driving the No. 18 SealMaster Honda, made contact with Jack Harvey in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXMHonda. Ferrucci was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact but rebounded to finish sixth. Harvey finished 17th.

Then, in Turn 3 just as the caution flag flew, Power made contact with Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda. Rahal attempted to correct the car, but instead he went spinning into the grass and made heavy contact with the wall. He was checked and released from the infield care center and finished 23rd. Power also was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact.

The race was restarted on Lap 3, but it went back under yellow flag conditions at the end of the lap with more trouble from Power. The 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion went off course in Turn 13 and spun into the grass. Power rebounded to finish 11th after bringing out the final full-course caution flag of the race.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be back in action this Friday, July 17 at Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader weekend at the .875-mile tri-oval. The first race begins at 8:30 p.m. (ET, NBCSN) Friday, with Race 2 of the Iowa INDYCAR 250s scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (ET, NBCSN) Saturday.