Belle Isle notes: Gold-medal boxer will stick to ring, not racetrack

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DETROIT – Claressa Shields isn’t afraid to step into the boxing ring, but the two-time gold medalist in women’s boxing admitted to some trepidation today when surrounded by Indy cars.

Shields, a native of Flint, Michigan, visited the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock to meet Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe on practice day for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. Shields, 22, said she enjoyed the adrenalin rush of being near the fast-paced world of Indy car racing, but isn’t sure she’d want to try it.

“I’m actually a little nervous,” admitted Shields, the middleweight who became the first American women to earn a boxing gold medal in 2012 and repeated four years later. “I don’t get nervous boxing, but if I had to get in a car and go super-fast and race, I think I would be kind of scared.

“I wanted to meet James Hinchcliffe,” she added. “There’s so many adrenalin rushes that people have in the world. Some people think it’s jumping off of planes, getting on roller coasters. His is actually going really fast in a race car and mine is boxing.”

Shields turned pro in November and won the North American Boxing Federation middleweight title in March. She’s scheduled to take on Mery Ranier on June 16 and, if successful, could fight for the World Boxing Council’s middleweight crown in August.

While boxing and racing are vastly different sports, Shields recognized the athletic similarities that she and Hinchcliffe share.

“I think his sport is very extreme and mine is extreme, too,” Shields said. “We choose our professions and we love what we do. I respect him.”

“You’ve got to be dedicated. He has practice today and he races tomorrow. Just like I have to practice every day before my fight, he’s got to do the same thing. It was nice meeting him. He’s a really great guy, really funny.”

Dixon a tenderfoot at Belle Isle this weekend

Scott Dixon remains sore following his airborne crash at Sunday’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, but the four-time champion is letting it slow him down. Dixon was seventh fastest in today’s first practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.

Driving the No. 9 Camping World Honda for the second straight race, the Chip Ganassi Racing veteran’s best lap was 1 minute, 15.9540 seconds (111.383 mph) around the 2.35-mile temporary street circuit at Belle Isle. Dixon spent much of the week in a walking boot on his left foot after the spectacular crash and is making driving adjustments in the car to limit any lingering pain.

"Just the first session there trying to get my head wrapped around what I need to do and how to maybe favor (the foot) a little bit or whatever I needed,” Dixon said. “All in all, it seems not too bad. It's a little achy, but once you're out on track you don't really think about it too much."

Ruoff Home Mortgage continues as Sato sponsor

Fresh off his Indianapolis 500 win, Takuma Sato will continue to carry Ruoff Home Mortgage on his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda into this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. Ruoff, the Indiana-based company that joined Andretti Autosport in time for Sato’s historic win May 28 in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, is taking on a major associate sponsorship with Sato for this weekend’s doubleheader.

“What you can definitely feel is the excitement that has been built around Takuma’s win at the Indianapolis 500 and we wanted to continue that partnership with Sato and Andretti Autosport for this race,” said Mark Music, president & CEO of Ruoff.

Andretti Autosport also announced the continuation of a partnership with Magneti Marelli, an advanced systems and component supplier for the automotive industry. Magneti Marelli is serving as the primary sponsor of Marco Andretti’s No. 27 Honda this weekend and will be an associate sponsor on the car for the remainder of the season.

Magneti Marelli and Andretti Autosport will continue their technical collaboration that has resulted in the development of know-how and engineering solutions aimed at optimizing the race team’s performance.

“As a global leader in automotive technology and innovation, Magneti Marelli brings strong technical resources and engineering expertise that will further enhance our race operations and on-track performance,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “We are happy to have extended our partnership and to welcome Magneti Marelli onto the No. 27 car starting in Detroit this weekend.”

Marco Andretti

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