INDIANAPOLIS May 30, 2021—The fans came back to the Indianapolis 500 and they left after watching history be made today! Helio Castroneves realized a dream by becoming a four-time Indy 500 winner and joined the elite trio of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
The elusive fourth which Castroneves had been chasing since winning for a third time in 2009, came while he was driving for Meyer Shank Racing. It was the first Indianapolis 500 that Castroneves drove a car not owned by Roger Penske.
In the final stint of the race, Castroneves traded the lead back and forth several times with a young Alex Palou and the cagey veteran waited until the penultimate lap to make his winning move. He had to fend off Palou and gauge the traffic ahead of him without getting boxed in. He managed to do just that and tied the record of four triumphs while also giving Meyer Shank Racing its first ever INDYCAR win at motorsports’ biggest stage – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The crowd roared its approval of the popular Brazilian’s victory.
Press Kit: Download the 2021 FedEx Racing press materials at www.fedexracing.com/presskit, including bios for Denny Hamlin, Chris Gabehart and Joe Gibbs Racing leadership, program highlights and statistics.
Talladega Recap: Speeding penalties and crash damage put an end to Denny Hamlin’s streak of six top-five finishes Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Hamlin lined up on the pole for the 500-mile event but dropped to the rear for the race start due to unapproved adjustments. He found his way back up to the front by Lap 28 in Stage 1, where he stayed for 21 laps. He then led 23 laps in Stage 2 before being dealt a pass-through penalty for speeding onto pit road – and then penalized again for speeding on his pass-through. The penalties left the FedEx Ground Toyota one lap down and in 36th, but plenty of laps remained to make up the lost ground. But on Lap 118, contact from behind forced Hamlin into the wall, causing damage that required lengthy repairs on pit road. The team was never able to recover and finished the race 32nd.
Kansas Preview: The NASCAR Cup Series will head next to Kansas Speedway, where Hamlin has three career victories, eight top-five and nine top-ten finishes. Hamlin and team seek their first win of the 2021 season as they look to build on their lead in the Cup Series standings. The #11 Toyota will again honor the memories of the FedEx Ground Indianapolis shooting victims with black-ribbon and #fedexstrong decals and will promote a fundraising site for those affected by this tragedy: gofundme.com/FedExSurvivors.
Track: Kansas Speedway
Laps Led: 342
Avg. Start: 12.2
Avg. Finish: 14.5
Hamlin Conversation – Kansas:
What is your FedEx Racing team’s focus as you get ready for Kansas after the way Talladega turned out?
“Talladega is behind us already. We’re going back to a mile-and-a-half, where we have a little more control over our own destiny than at a superspeedway. We’ll be ready to get things back on track and perform the way we have been all year.”
You won here at Kansas last year. What can you and your team do to replicate that again in 2021?
“We have to just keep doing what we’ve done all season. The wins haven’t happened yet, but we’ve run good races and will continue to do that. Even without a win, I still like where we’re at.”
FedEx Freight Along for the Ride at Kansas Speedway: For the race at Kansas Speedway, FedEx Freight recognizes the company’s Omaha, Iowa, service center by featuring the call letters OMA on the #11 FedEx Freight race car. The Omaha service center, opened in 2000, has approximately 100 team members who are committed to making every FedEx experience outstanding.
FedEx Office – Closest to Kansas Speedway: 13450 W 8th St. Pkwy, Lenexa, KS 66215, (913) 894-2010
Race car driving may be a male dominated industry, but Toni Breidinger, the first female Arab NASCAR driver, is about to shake up the track with a little help from Huda Beauty.
The 21-year-old California native is showing up to the Talledega speedway on Saturday, April 24 with a Huda Beauty-wrapped race car, and a lipstick decal to boot.
While it’s certainly a departure from the typical Home Depot, Budweiser and Monster Energy sponsorships, Breidinger knew that teaming up with Huda Beauty was the perfect match for her debut around the track.
“Huda is really big on breaking barriers and female empowerment — and that’s right up my alley,” Breidinger tells Us Weekly’s Stylish in an exclusive interview.
“Obviously, NASCAR is male dominated and I feel like all the drivers fit into this same kind of norm. I like to be different. I’m going into this race having a lot of pride with Huda Beauty on my car … No matter what anybody thinks about it being girly or whatever — I think I have the coolest sponsor,” she adds.
OK, so Formula 1 has had to shift its focus about 15 miles north of where it originally wanted to race, and the downtown venue has been replaced with parking lots around the Hard Rock Stadium, but a grand prix in Miami is GO.
It has taken years of work, and some pretty serious negotiating with local residents and elected officials, but 2022 will see F1 cars racing in South Florida, and hopefully two grands prix in the United States for the first time in 38 years.
I have to say “hopefully” because Circuit of The Americas does not have a confirmed contract running beyond this year’s edition of the race, but all of the signs point to an extension. F1 is keen to return to Austin and wants to keep the two venues apart on the calendar to give them space to thrive, so it would be a bit of a PR disaster if their U.S. expansion turned out to be a simple replacement of one race for the other.
But now is a time to celebrate the addition of Miami, because it is a project over three years in the making. And while it might not be downtown, the race is headed to a venue that is set up to host major sporting spectacles.
“I think we have a vision to create a global entertainment destination,” Miami Grand Prix managing partner Tom Garfinkel said. “The site exists to bring in the biggest events in the world and now with the Super Bowl, the National Championship game, international soccer, Miami Open tennis and really, there is no bigger event in the world than Formula 1 racing.
“So this is something we have worked on for a while and, frankly, while maybe it took a long time, if you look at the amount of diligence that goes into it, taking the time to listen to the community, putting that diligence through a global pandemic we have all been dealing with, it actually wasn’t a long time when you put it in perspective.
“What it takes to put one of these things on is pretty significant and there’s a lot of diligence that went into it. It was the right time to ask the question earlier, but there was never a time when we didn’t want it to happen or didn’t think it would happen. Sometimes you just will things to happen and when you have great partners you are able to get that accomplished.”
Switching the venue to Hard Rock Stadium does initially seem like the second choice, and in many ways it is. There’s no denying it would look so much better to see cars racing along Biscayne Boulevard among the skyscrapers, and across Port Boulevard to provide the full backdrop.
But how it looks doesn’t necessarily have an impact on how good the racing is, and Garfinkel thinks the track design in Miami Gardens is a better offering from a sporting perspective.
“I think that it’s going to be a lot better in certain respects,” he insists. “When we originally looked at the city design, you have a lot of constraints around a racetrack.
“The first priority was creating a great racing circuit for the drivers, for the fans, multiple passing opportunities… and when we looked at the Hard Rock site we had basically a blank sheet of paper to work with — designers to work with, Formula 1 and obviously the FIA who I would like to thank as well — to put together a racetrack that is dynamic in a lot of ways, hopefully.
“And secondly, to be able to put on great experiences that are uniquely reflective of the diversity of Miami and everything we do. And again, having existing infrastructure there, having things in place, we think we’re in a better position to be able to do that.
“If you look at what we did with the Miami Open tennis tournament, for example, what we’re going to be able to do is completely transform into a campus with landscaping, and all kind of different opportunities, with food and beverage areas.
“We want to create an environment where people are blown away when they get there, and I think starting with sort of a blank sheet of paper, to design a circuit with the designers and F1 and the FIA that has a lot of passing opportunities.
“There’s going to be vistas from the stadium which sits at the center of the circuit, you can walk around the top deck of the stadium and see every turn on the racetrack –a pretty unique opportunity. The infrastructure we have in place, the club spaces, the things we can take advantage of in and around the campus, it’s going to be beautiful. I don’t really see any limitations; in fact I just see opportunities.”
From F1’s perspective, the culture aspect is not being overlooked, either. Chase Carey used to talk about “destination cities” that he wanted the sport to race in, and Miami is exactly that. His successor as F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali, says the city’s identity is something that can be incorporated regardless of the precise track location.
“It’s not a compromise,” Domenicali said. “As always, when you look for different solutions you need to consider all of the elements that make everyone happy. I am sure that the track you are going to see around the Hard Rock Stadium and Miami Gardens will be fantastic.
“We will build up something that will be spectacular — you will see Miami because we are in Miami, and that will be really the right choice.
“The community is really happy and one of the things that we as Formula 1 want is to be really integrated. Not only as Tom was saying before, about the fact that there will be a business opportunity for everyone — we want to take the opportunity to get into the culture with the people, with the schools, with the people that are living close to the track, This is really something that will give an added value to the cultural meaning of what Formula 1 is.”
It’s an event that should work for the city, and will almost certainly work for the sport from a marketing point of view. But as well as being a business success it does need to provide the right sporting challenge for F1 drivers too, and Domenicali is certain Miami has that potential.
After a three-race run at short tracks, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Before enjoying the thrill of high speeds, take a moment to find out the need-to-know details in this week’s 101.
WHO’S ON THE POLE?
Series points leader Denny Hamlin starts on the Busch Pole for the third time this season — still searching for his first trip to Victory Lane in 2021. Joey Logano joins Hamlin on the front row, followed by Martin Truex Jr., William Byron and Alex Bowman rounding out the top five.
Oddsmakers favor Hamlin to finally get over the winless streak after dazzling performances in nearly every race this season. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing wheelman tops the chart at 13-2, with rival Logano just off the pace at 9-1. Two-time Talladega winner Ryan Blaney at 10-1 edges out teammate Brad Keselowski and reigning series champion Chase Elliott — both 11-1 — to complete the list of frontrunners.
As fans know, superspeedways tend to produce electric moments from the underdogs. William Byron (20-1), Ryan Newman (30-1) and Erik Jones (40-1) each present intriguing value based on recent performances at the track.
Byron has led a lap in five of six career starts at Talladega and has a pair of consecutive finishes in 11th or better, Newman has five finishes of ninth or better in the last seven races — including two runner-ups — and Erik Jones has finished in the top five in each of the last two races.
Cup Series teams have seven sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for the 188-lap race on the 2.66-mile circuit. The length of the track allows for the possibility of drivers pitting under green without going a lap down.
Last repaved in 2010, the surface has increased its effect on tire wear over time, but the grip is still sustainable over longer runs — meaning two-tire and fuel-only stops should definitely be in play throughout the afternoon.
The minimum recommended inflation is 26 psi for the left side tires, 50 psi for the right front and 48 psi for the right rear.
FORD, TEAM PENSKE DOMINANT AT ‘DEGA
— In the last 11 races at Talladega, a Ford driver has reached Victory Lane nine times.
— During the 2018 race, Stewart-Haas Racing drivers ran 1-2-3-4 for 122 of 162 green flag laps and Aric Almirola won after taking the lead on the final lap.
— Team Penske and Team Penske-related drivers (No. 21) have either won or been passed for the win in six of the last seven Talladega races.
— Blaney led a race-high 63 laps in last year’s spring victory and has won two out of the last three races at Talladega.
IndyCar driver Colton Herta (88) leads a pack of cars into turn 12 with the downtown Indianapolis skyline in the background during the IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1 on October 2, 2020, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.BRIAN SPURLOCK/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES
The Indianapolis 500 is set to be the largest sporting event in the world since the start of the pandemic, with 135,000 spectators permitted to attend “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” next month.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway said Wednesday it worked with the Marion County Public Health Department to determine that 40% of venue capacity can attend the May 30 race on Memorial Day weekend. The speedway is the largest sporting facility in the world, with more than 250,000 grandstand seats and the ability to host close to 400,000 on race day throughout the entire property.
The attendance figure was determined after Indianapolis hosted the NCAA men’s basketball tournament through March and into April with limited attendance. The NCAA allowed 8,000 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium for the April 5 men’s championship game.
The Alabama spring football game last weekend hosted 47,218 fans, nearly 10,000 more than a recent Texas Rangers baseball game; an Australian Rules cricket match in Melbourne drew 51,723 in March.
Roger Penske, in his second year as owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, had hoped for full attendance, but IndyCar and speedway officials are taking pride in the upcoming milestone.
“This event and this place means so much to everybody we see every day and we hear from every day, whether they are Hoosiers or race fans from around the world,” Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp., told The Associated Press.
“We feel a real responsibility to protect that legacy and to grow it and to have the race,” Miles said. “We’re ready to take the next step in bringing back the economy and a lot of that in this city and state is driven by sports events which has been shut down for so many months. March Madness was incredibly successful, this is the next step and it just so happens this will probably be the biggest sporting event of the year.”
The speedway will be open to spectators every day cars are on the track, beginning with the May 15 road course event. The viewing mounds in the infield will be closed, and general admission infield tickets will not be made available.
The infield’s raucous “Snake Pit” will be closed and all the traditional concerts will not be held, including on Carb Day and Legends Day. There will be suite seating and the Pagoda will be open to those with tickets, but the midway will be closed.
Grandstand seating will be socially distanced; fans will have an option to return their tickets for an account credit.
Face coverings will be required on track property and temperature checks will be given at the entrances. The speedway will also extend its vaccination clinics through the end of May with the ability for spectators to receive a vaccination on speedway grounds throughout the month.
Miles anticipated about 60% of those in attendance will have been vaccinated. The speedway has vaccinated approximately 100,000 people since it began operating as a site.
“Roger Penske and everyone associated with Penske Entertainment and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been incredible partners with us throughout the pandemic,” said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. “It is high time for fans to return to the greatest motor speedway in the world with this safety plan in place.”
Miles said 90% of the IndyCar paddock had been vaccinated by last Sunday’s season opener and there are two more opportunities for competitors to get shots before racing begins at the speedway. Those who choose not to be vaccinated before the track opens May 18 for Indy 500 preparations will be required to undergo daily COVID-19 testing.
Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster raced to the final round of the 21st NHRA Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals grabbing a runner-up finish and jumping up to fourth place in the Camping World Top Fuel point standings. Throughout the weekend Kalitta and the Mac Tools team were at the top of their game. During qualifying they posted some of the quickest times grabbing three qualifying bonus points for running the third quickest run of the second session and the second quickest run during the final qualifying session.
As the No. 3 qualifier Kalitta squared off with teammate Shawn Langdon, Troy Buff and Rob Passey in the first round. The round win was never in jeopardy as he was first off the starting line and first to the finish line with a 3.751 second run.
The next quad featured Kalitta facing Steve Torrence and Leah Pruett along with Langdon. At the finish line it was Kalitta crossing beside Torrence to advance to the final quad. The Mac Tools team kept it consistent and quick with a 3.768 second run.
In the final quad Kalitta, who is celebrating 20 years with primary sponsor Mac Tools, was looking for his first Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals win and first win of the 2021 season. As the starting line Christmas Tree fired the Mac Tools dragster launched hard and was racing to the finish line when it began mixing up cylinders. Kalitta was able to keep it in the groove but he lost power and speed opening the door for Torrence to drive around him for the win.
“A 3.82 won the race out there today and we were running much better than that,” said Kalitta. “It looked like we were ahead, but we dropped a cylinder and threw the rods out before the finish line. We didn’t quite make it to the finish line. We were really hoping to get the win today. We gave it our best. I’m really proud of my guys and the TRD guys did a great job with lane choice. I don’t know why we dropped the cylinder. We’ve been tearing up some parts and that’s got to end pretty quickly and we’ll just keep at it.”
Kalitta and the Mac Tools team will head to Atlanta No. 4 in the Top Fuel point standings.
Doug Kalitta on Vegas Four-Wide Nationals: “There is a lot going on up on the starting line but you just have to do your regular routine. Our Mac Tools dragster was strong all weekend. I am looking forward to getting back on track in Atlanta in a couple weeks.”
Qualified: No. 3 (3.743 sec., 314.83 mph)
Bonus points: +3 (3rd quickest of Q2 and 2nd quickest of Q3)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH Doug Kalitta 3 .062 3.751 314.39 (W)
Shawn Langdon 6 .082 3.756 320.89 (W)
Troy Buff 11 .134 3.839 284.99
Rob Passey 14 .301 5.236 131.29
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Steve Torrence 2 .051 3.773 322.04 (W) Doug Kalitta 3 .058 3.768 325.22 (W)
Shawn Langdon 6 .056 8.558 88.61
Leah Pruett 7 .111 10.921 55.03
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Steve Torrence 2 .042 3.823 321.73 (W) Doug Kalitta 3 .059 3.866 270.75 (R/U)
Clay Millican 4 .070 3.914 290.88
Antron Brown 8 .041 4.728 157.83