Notes: Legendary owners Ganassi, Penske to receive honors

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Two of the most successful team owners in Indy car history will be honored in separate events this week.

Chip Ganassi – whose lengthy list of accomplishments as a car owner includes 11 Indy car season championships and 101 race wins, including four at the Indianapolis 500 – will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America tonight in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Roger Penske – whose resume as a car owner includes 13 Indy car championships, 182 race wins and 16 Indianapolis 500 victories – will receive the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for outstanding contributions to motorsports Thursday in Corning, N.Y.

Ganassi, the Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year as a driver in 1982, started his own Indy car team in 1990. Drivers the likes of Arie Luyendyk, Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan have succeeded at Chip Ganassi Racing, which added winning programs in NASCAR and sports car racing, including conquering the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 25 with the Ford GT program.

“On behalf of everybody at the Verizon IndyCar Series, we’d like to congratulate Chip Ganassi on his induction into the Motorsports Hall of Fame,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman and Co., the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Chip’s success on the track across so many different racing disciplines is a testament to his leadership as a team owner and the quality and talent of his drivers and personnel. We’re deeply grateful for his enormous contributions to INDYCAR over the years and applaud him for this deserving honor.” 

The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America honors greats in all disciplines of racing. Other inductees this year are: 1955 Indianapolis 500 winner Bob Sweikert, the first driver to exceed 100 mph on a 1-mile oval track; Sam Posey, the former sports car and Indy car driver who was a longtime ABC commentator at the Indy 500; NASCAR team owner Richard Childress; dirt-track motorcycle great Everett Brashear; land-speed record holder Gary Gabelich; and Dave McClelland, the legendary “voice” of drag racing.

Penske will receive the Argetsinger award from the International Motor Racing Research Center during a dinner at the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y. The award memorializes Cameron R. Argetsinger, founder and organizer of the first races at nearby Watkins Glen International. It recognizes Penske for bringing prestige to motorsports and demonstrating commitment to the future of racing. Ganassi was the first recipient of the Argetsinger award in 2014 and NASCAR icon Richard Petty was the 2015 honoree.

Team Penske is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016. Legendary names the likes of Mark Donohue, Bobby Unser, Rick Mears, Al Unser, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr. and Helio Castroneves all won the Indy 500 for Penske, who also fielded winning programs in NASCAR, Formula One and sports cars.

Fellow team owner Bobby Rahal, who serves as chairman of the Racing Research Center’s Governing Council, will speak at the dinner.

"I feel privileged to help honor a true icon of the sport who has been so influential in a number of racing series for 50 years," Rahal said of Penske. "I cannot think of any other driver and/or team owner who has accomplished as much as Roger has and who continues to leave his mark in the sport that we all love."

Next-generation USF2000 chassis completes successful test

The Tatuus USF-17, the next-generation chassis for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda beginning in 2017, completed its road-course development program Monday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The test was deemed a success by all involved.

Tatuus-USF17USF2000 steward/driving coach Joel Miller handled testing duties that included previous outings at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Ky., and Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

“It’s a great car,” Miller said. “We made some setup changes early in the day and did a race simulation run and the car was within a tenth of a second on each lap for the entire run. We even did our quick time on the last lap. The car reacted very well to the changes and the teams that were here were able to see the lap times decrease, which is what we wanted.”

The USF-17 will test Thursday on the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, with 2012 USF2000 and 2013 Pro Mazda champion Matt Brabham behind the wheel. With a rolling chassis priced at $51,800, the Tatuus USF-17 will serve as the base car for the PM-18 that will become the next-generation chassis for Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires competition in 2018.

To date, orders for 24 USF-17 chassis have been placed among 14 teams – nine new to the series – with the first delivery of 15 cars scheduled in September. An initial two-day series test is slated for October 8-9 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test.

“The teams all love it,” Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions that operates the Mazda Road to Indy series. “Some teams are thinking about adding to the orders they have already made, and we have more serious potential buyers than we have cars left in the first order of 30. I couldn’t be happier with our next-generation car.”

Of note

Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud announced via Twitter that Menards has extended its agreement to be primary sponsor of his No. 22 Chevrolet for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway on July 9-10 and the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 20-21. … Fans can still vote for reigning Verizon IndyCar Series Scott Dixon or 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi to win the 2016 ESPY Award for Best Driver. Voting continues through 8 p.m. ET July 13 at http://espn.go.com/espys/2016/?voting=bestdriver. The ESPYs air live that night on ABC. … Gabby Chaves, the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series rookie of the year who joined Dale Coyne Racing in May, has been added as a third driver for this weekend's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen sports car race, where he joins former Indy car driver Katherine Legge and former Indy Lights driver Sean Rayhall to pilot the DeltaWing. ... The Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires race scheduled for July 10 at Iowa Speedway has been postponed due to an expected low car count. The race has been added to the season finale Sept. 9-11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, making that a tripleheader weekend for the series.

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