INDIANAPOLIS -- With 190 wins in 51 illustrious seasons, the Team Penske name is a common one in the INDYCAR record books. With a triumph by Will Power's No. 12 Verizon crew in today's TAG Heuer Pit Stop Competition, the North Carolina-based program added to its historic pedigree.
Team Penske has claimed 17 victories in the 41 times the pit stop competition has been held, but this was the first for Power, who had never made a competition final prior to this year.
"That was an example of four or five perfect pit stops, no mistakes," said Power, who will start ninth in Sunday's Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. "You know, when you think about the 500, that's what wins races. No mistakes on pit lane, quick pit stops under yellow, and I have absolute faith in these guys every time I pull in the pit box."
In a new twist for 2017, the final round of the competition consisted of a best-of-three competition between Power's crew and that of James Hinchcliffe from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. After the crews split the first two rounds, it came down to a winner-take-all final stop. Power's crew executed flawlessly with a stop of 11.614 seconds, the fastest of the day.
Chief mechanic Matt Jonsson earned his record-tying third competition win, all with Team Penske, and each with a different driver (Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2005 and Ryan Briscoe in 2011). Jonsson, in his 22nd season with Team Penske, is the only chief mechanic to win pit stop competitions with different drivers.
Power's crew earned $50,000 for the victory. The winner of the pit stop competition has gone on to win the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently by Team Penske's Helio Castroneves in 2009. Castroneves' crew, the two-time defending pit stop champion coming in, was eliminated by Hinchcliffe's crew in the quarterfinals.
Dixon the subject offeature-length documentary
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, will be the subject of a feature-length documentary co-produced by Australasian GFC Films and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Group. Matthew Metcalfe, who also serves as producer of the "McLaren" documentary to be released soon depicting the life of racer Bruce McLaren, will lead the unnamed Dixon project that will focus on Dixon's life and rise from struggling young racer to one of the greatest drivers of his generation.
"I’ve been very fortunate from where I started, with my parents and people who’ve helped me along the way," said Dixon, who will start from the pole on Sunday in his 15th Indianapolis 500 start. "It’s never one person. It’s a team competition. All but one of my wins have been with this team. Chip runs an amazing organization and has the best people in the world working for him. That drive is what’s kept me going, is what inspires me still every day."
The documentary is being shot on location in the United States, New Zealand and France, including Dixon's performances at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil and next month's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The documentary will be released in 2018.
Meanwhile, the "McLaren" documentary was to be previewed tonight in Indianapolis by a group of racing VIPs. Directed by Roger Donaldson, it depicts the life of motorsports icon Bruce McLaren, who became the youngest Formula One race winner (at the time) when he won the 1959 United States Grand Prix at Sebring International Raceway. McLaren died in a racing accident at 32 years old, but his legacy lives on through the McLaren team that has claimed eight Formula One constructors' titles, 12 F1 drivers' titles, three wins at the Indianapolis 500 and wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The brand made its heralded return to Indy car competition this month by entering two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso in the Indianapolis 500 in a McLaren-Honda-Andretti entry.
Cain, Hall earn prestigious awards
Longtime motorsports journalist Holly Cain was awarded the Bob Russo Founders Award by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. The awrad recognized "an individual who has demonstrated profound interest, tireless efforts and undying dedication to auto racing as exemplified by Russo throughout his lifelong career."
The award pays tribute to Russo, AARWBA's founder in 1955, and honors those who make significant contributions to the motorsports industry through journalistic, broadcasting and public relations means. Cain's career, which has spanned more than a quarter of a century, has held award-winning tenures at the Tampa Tribune, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dallas Morning News, AOL Fanhouse, FoxSports.com and NASCAR.com since 2012. The first woman to receive the award, Cain has written and spoken candidly about her battle with breast cancer since 2014.
Andy Hall, the veteran ESPN publicist who has worked for NASCAR and INDYCAR, was named the recipient of the 2017 Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations. The Chapman Award is considered the highest honor in racing public relations. It is named in memory of Chapman, the legendary PR executive and innovator who worked with Babe Ruth and was named Indy Car racing’s “most influential man” of the 1980s when he led PPG's promotional efforts.
102nd Indianapolis 500 logo revealed
Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveiled the logo for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, which will take place on Sunday May 27, 2018.
"The design of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 logo is a perfect mix of the tradition that everyone holds so dearly about this great race and its exciting future,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “The color scheme also is a salute to the patriotism and sacrifice that we cherish every Memorial Day Weekend at IMS."
Shank Racing's Rovazzini earns Brawner award
Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport chief mechanic Adam Rovazzini was announced as the winner of the Clint Brawner Award for Mechanical Excellence, recognizing an the Indianapolis 500 chief mechanic who "exemplifies the mechanical and scientific creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise" of the award's legendary namesake.
Selected by the Clint Brawner Foundation and sponsored by Firestone Racing, Rovazzini is leading the Shank team's foray into Indy car racing with rookie driver Jack Harvey and had to overcome a crash in the No. 50 Honda and assorted mechanical issues to qualify 27th for Sunday's race. Rovazzini received a $5,000 check and will have his name engraved on the permanent trophy in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
"It is an honor to receive this award from the Clint Brawner Foundation,” said Rovazzini, who also serves as crew chief on the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 as part of Michael Shank Racing’s sports-car effort. “It’s great to be back here competing in the Indianapolis 500 – this time as part of the Michael Shank Racing organization. We have a great group of guys who all bring a lot of experience and talent to the team."
Rahal Letterman Lanigan adds Keihin North America as associate sponsor
Keihin North America, a leading manufacturer of vehicle engine management and climate control systems with facilities in Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina, will serve as an associate sponsor on Graham Rahal's No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda for Sunday's race.
"Keihin is well-known for their advanced componentry in the automotive world, particularly in engine management control, among other things,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with former late-night talk-show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. “And being a Honda dealer, we are well-versed in working with their products on an everyday basis. We are pleased to have them come on board and look forward to the opportunity to bring them success in the Indy 500 as well as hopefully, in the future."