Notes: Ruoff Home Mortgage returns to sponsor Sato

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Ruoff Home Mortgage, which sponsored Takuma Sato’s car when he won the Indianapolis 500 in May, is returning this week as the sponsor of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Ruoff also sponsored Sato’s car at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear the week following the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The mortgage lender was also a major sponsor when Scott Speed won a global rallycross event in an Andretti entry.

"We've been on quite a ride since aligning ourselves with Scott, Takuma and the Andretti team," said Mark Music, president & CEO of Ruoff Home Mortgage. "We are thrilled to be racing at Mid-Ohio, which is right in the backyard of our newly-opened Ohio offices."

Just days after coming onboard as a sponsor in May, Ruoff was on the side of Sato’s car May 28 when he became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500. A week later in Detroit, Ruoff was again the sponsor when Sato posted a pair of top-10 finishes and won the pole position for one race in the weekend doubleheader.

“We’re thrilled to continue growing our partnership with Ruoff Home Mortgage,” said Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport CEO. “They were a large part of this year’s Indy 500 win and to have Mark and his team a part of our family is an honor. We’ve earned two wins together since the end of May and we are determined to add another to that count.”

Practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, begins Friday with 45-minute sessions starting at 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. ET (both stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com). Qualifying airs live at 2 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN. The 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile permanent road course airs live at 3 p.m. Sunday on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with an encore re-air at 7 p.m. on NBCSN. Ticket information is available at MidOhio.com.

Hinchcliffe appreciates role as Canadian favorite

Tracy, Villeneuve, Moore, Goodyear, Carpentier, Tagliani … and now Hinchcliffe.

James Hinchcliffe has firmly entrenched his name among the great Canadians to have competed in Indy car racing. When the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver returned home for the Honda Indy Toronto on July 16, he laughed at how he used to be the kid stalking his racing heroes for autographs – and how now he is the hunted one from today’s Canadian kids.

It's crazy to think for so many years I was the kid with a (photo) card and a Sharpie chasing drivers around the paddock,” Hinchcliffe said, “looking up to guys like Paul (Tracy), Greg (Moore), Alex (Tagliani), Jacques (Villeneuve), Pat (Carpentier). It's a bit surreal to think that's now kind of my role.

“I try to do well with it. I try to be a good role model for kids. I try and represent the city of Toronto and the whole country as well as I can. I feel that responsibility.”

Tracy is the only driver to win in his native country, twice in Toronto and once in Vancouver. Hinchcliffe has come close the past two years, finishing third in Toronto in 2016 and ’17.

“It is a point of pride to try and represent the country well, try to keep the streak we have of Canadian Indy car drivers up there,” Hinchcliffe said. “The support I felt has been incredible. As you say, it grows every year. I can't thank everybody enough for that. Results like this are why we do it, try to give them something to cheer for.”

Newgarden channeling his inner Mears

Josef Newgarden was the beneficiary of a timely full-course caution to win the Honda Indy Toronto on July 16. In his first year with Team Penske, Newgarden already listens closely to one of the masters of Indy car racing.

Rick Mears, winner of 29 races including four Indianapolis 500s before he retired, now serves as a Team Penske driver coach.

“It's funny because Rick Mears told me one time – this was one of the best things I've ever heard – he said, ‘You'll have more days where you should have won the race and things go against you and you don't win the race, then you have days where it goes your way and you end up winning the race,’” Newgarden said following the Toronto win.

“So the days it goes your way and you get something lucky, you just take them. Because there's more days where you could say, ‘We should have won that race.’ So I'll take a lucky yellow any day of the week.”

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