Penske, Ganassi Set To Hit the Pits in Fort Worth

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 28 2021

Team owner Roger Penske is challenging rival Chip Ganassi.

FORT WORTH, Texas – Downtown will reverberate with the sounds of Indy car engines at high noon on Friday, April 30, when Team Penske squares-off against Chip Ganassi Racing during the second annual Cowtown Pit Stop Challenge.

Four of the NTT IndyCar Series’ top drivers will compete in an event won by Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske over Felix Rosenqvist, then of CGR, in June 2019. The event, which simulates service performed during an in-race pit stop, was not staged last June because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pit Stop Challenge is the lead-in to the inaugural INDYCAR doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway _ the Genesys 300-miler on Saturday and Sunday’s XPEL 375.

“The 2019 Cowtown Pit Stop Challenge was such a great happening that there was no question  we would bring it back to downtown Fort Worth in 2021,” TMS President and General Manager Eddie Gossage said. “We’re bringing INDYCAR sights and sounds right into the city to give everyone there the opportunity to see up-close just how special these race cars, drivers and pit crews really are.

“We really appreciate everyone from the City of Fort Worth involved in this event to allow us to bring INDYCAR to downtown before heading back to Texas Motor Speedway.”

Team Penske will be represented by 2017 and 2019 Series champion Josef Newgarden and Will Power, the 2014 series champ. CGR will counter with 2004 series champion Tony Kanaan in his first start of 2021, and Alex Palou, winner of the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 18.

Spaniard Palou heads into Saturday’s Genesys 300-miler around TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval with a two-point lead (67-65) over Power and Scott Dixon, the six-time/reigning series champion from CGR.

IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi is facing a challenge from Roger Penske on Friday.

Newgarden, who won the traditional night race at TMS in June 2019, is 10th in points after finishing second to Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport in last Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla., street race. Herta and Newgarden rallied from a pair of DNFs suffered at Barber following contact initiated when Newgarden spun moments into the race. Herta is fourth in points with 62 while Newgarden broke into the top-10 with 47 points.

Power, a native of Australia, won at “No Limits, Texas” in June 2011 in the second-half of a same-day doubleheader and repeated in 2017. Kanaan, a native of Brazil, won at TMS during his 2004 championship season with Andretti Green Racing.

The format will match the drivers and their respective crews in a head-to-head, simulated pit stop and drag race to the finish line on a course laid out on West 2nd Street between Taylor and Burnett Streets, directly behind the main branch of the Fort Worth Library. The event is free and open to the public.

The cars on-site Friday will be the same Dallara chassis the drivers will run during Saturday’s Genesys 300 and Sunday’s XPEL 375. Team Penske competes with Chevrolet power, while Chip Ganassi Racing is a Honda customer.

The Genesys 300 will air live Saturday on NBC Sports Network beginning at 6 p.m. (CDT) while the XPEL 375 will air live Sunday on NBCSN beginning at 4 p.m. INDYCAR’s annual visit to “The Great American Speedway” will officially launch the 25th Season of Speed celebration at TMS.

Tickets, starting at $25 for adults and $10 for children 12-and-under, are now on sale at http://www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

Infield camping will return to Texas Motor Speedway for the NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader this weekend. RVs and fifth-wheels will be allowed to pull through the Speedway’s south tunnel to park and set up in the Geico Infield Campground on the east side of Allison Avenue.

The following protocols will be implemented for the safety and security of TMS patrons:

_ RV/camper searches will be required for all Geico Infield Campground patrons. Inspections will be conducted in the Express parking lot just outside the south tunnel.

_ The NTT IndyCar Series will continue to operate within a “bubble” on the west side of the infield for the safety of all teams and industry members. Geico Infield Campground campers and fans must remain on the east side of Allison Avenue for the duration of the event weekend.

_ With the infield shower/restroom buildings as well as the Barr Tunnel (underground tunnel to/from the main grandstands) being located on the west side of the infield, access will not be allowed for the May event weekend.


More than a year after The Speedway Club closed its doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the members-only, fine dining and banquet space at Texas Motor Speedway will reopen by reservation only for this weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader.

Lunch service will be available by reservation on Saturday, May 1, beginning at 11:30 a.m., with dinner service to begin at 5:30 p.m. Dinner service on Sunday, May 2, will be by reservation only between 2:30 and 5 p.m. Both days will feature culinary dishes from a served buffet.

To accommodate social distancing guidelines set by the CDC, seating will be limited to reservations only. Hand sanitizing stations will be set up throughout the dining room and the restaurant will use disposable menus to further limit person-to-person contact. In addition, standard backpacks/coolers/large purses are prohibited.

The Spa at Texas Motor Speedway also will be open May 1-2 for massage and facial services by appointment only. Due to COVID-19, the showers in The Speedway Club will be closed. Please call 817-215-8480 to book an appointment.

The Turn 1 Terrace will be open to ticketed guests only. Fans can book tickets at 817-215-8500.

For questions about banquet space or information, please contact Meagon Mooneyham at mmooneyham@levyrestaurants.com or call 817-215-8438.


This weekend’s INDYCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway are not only the first two oval-track events of the NTT IndyCar Series season but also a prelude to the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 next month.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted sanctioning body INDYCAR to move the 2020 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the Month of May to August, with no fans in attendance. But fans will be allowed to attend the May 30th running, with up to 40 percent capacity permitted for a total approximating 135,000. The plan has been approved by the Marion County Public Health Department.

“Our fans mean everything to us, and we can’t wait to welcome them ‘Back Home Again’ for this year’s Indy 500,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “The city and state have worked with us to identify the appropriate health and safety precautions so that we can successfully host a limited but very enthusiastic crowd. The health and safety of everyone coming to IMS, along with Central Indiana and the Hoosier State, have been paramount throughout this process.”

In addition to limited attendance, further key health and safety measures at the 2.5-mile track include:

_ Face coverings will be required and enforced throughout the venue (subject to updates).

_Temperature checks will be administered upon public gate entry.

_ There will be spacing between customer groups in the grandstands. In addition, spacing will be enforced throughout the venue.

_ Spectator viewing mounds will be closed to the general public throughout the Month of May, with no Race Day general admission tickets sold.

_ Frequent cleaning and sanitation processes will be in place, with hand sanitizer and washing stations readily available.

“The No. 1 thing fans can do to ensure a great Race Day is get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Penske Entertainment President & CEO Mark Miles said. “We continue to offer vaccinations at IMS and will be extending our mass vaccination clinic throughout the Month of May. This is all part of the effort to continue getting Indiana back on track.”

In addition to vaccination days at IMS through April 30, vaccinations will be available on select days from May 1-27, with additional details forthcoming.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have to help us return to the activities we love and have missed over the last year,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department. “Our vaccination rates, combined with the outdoor nature of the event, make it possible for fans to return for the Indy 500 this year. I invite everyone in our community 16-and-older to visit ourshot.in.gov or call 2-1-1 to sign up for the vaccine.”

Additional items of note:

_ Fans who do not currently have Indy 500 tickets and are interested in attending can apply online at ims.com. If additional tickets are available, these fans will be given first opportunity to finalize purchases.

_Tickets for all other on-track days remain available, and the same health precautions for gate entry and grandstand access will be in place.

_ With no general admission access to the infield during the Month of May, the Friday, May 28 Carb Day concert, the Saturday, May 29 Legends Day concert and the Sunday, May 30 Snake Pit concert all have been canceled.

_ IMS customers still have the option to roll their 2021 purchase into 2022, receiving an IMS event credit in lieu of attending this year’s race.

_ A fan FAQ with additional details about Month of May and Indy 500 items has been posted to IMS.com/PlanAhead.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 28 2021
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