Floyd (Left) and Chip Ganassi (Photo via CGR Teams Twitter account)

Tributes pour in for Floyd Ganassi

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Floyd Ganassi, who passed away Monday at age 87, left an indelible impact on the racing community. Tributes, statements and tweets have poured in in the less than 24 hours since the news, and what’s below is merely a sampling of the outpouring of support the racing community has for Chip Ganassi’s father.

The team has announced a funeral service to be held Thursday, August 22 at 10 a.m. at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a selection of reflections on Floyd Ganassi, either statements or tweets:

TWEETS

Mike Hull, Ganassi managing director: The loss of Floyd Ganassi today is hard to accept; life’s fragile nature is measured by how much we mean to each other.

Dario Franchitti, Ganassi IndyCar driver: Today our friend Floyd Ganassi passed away, he was a massive part of the team & our good luck charm. Rest in peace Floyd, you’re a great man

Charlie Kimball, Novo Nordisk Ganassi IndyCar driver: Floyd Ganassi will be very missed in the paddock. No matter what, he always brought a smile to everyone’s faces. A great man.

Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi IndyCar driver (2005 and 2013 Indianapolis 500): I will miss Floyd Ganassi dearly. He was always so good and kind to me. My thoughts are with Chip and his family now. #ripFloyd

Juan Pablo Montoya, Ganassi Cup driver: It’s a shame we lost today a great person. Floyd Ganassi we really gonna miss u. He was a great friend.

Graham Rahal, former Ganassi IndyCar driver: RIP Floyd Ganassi. One of the greatest all around men you will ever meet. I cherished the time spent with him. He will certainly be missed.

Joey Hand, Ganassi GRAND-AM winner of 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Happy to be back in the USA but very very sad to here that Floyd Ganassi has passed away. Glad to have met him. RIP Floyd.

Kyle Larson, Ganassi development driver: Sadden to hear about the passing of Chip Ganassi’s father Floyd. Thoughts and prayers go out to their family.

Tony Kanaan, IndyCar driver: RIP Floyd RT @CGRTeams Statement from Chip Ganassi Racing Teams on the Passing of Floyd Ganassi: pic.twitter.com/VG9FQ242es

Marino Franchitti, Dario’s brother, sports car driver: Rest in Peace Floyd Ganassi, going to miss his smiling face at the track & all the fantastic pics he’d take. We’ve lost a great man.

Holly Wheldon, sister of the late Dan Wheldon: Just heard the news that the very lovely Floyd Ganassi has passed away! Such a great guy at the track, will definitely be missed! #RIPFloyd

Kevin Lee, NBC Sports Network IndyCar pit reporter: Like many have stated, very saddened to hear of the passing of Floyd Ganassi. Always enjoyed visiting & will miss receiving his pics

Jenna Fryer, AP auto racing reporter: Floyd Ganassi was a special man. I’ll miss him, his photos, and the envelopes that arrived on Tuesdays. Such an honor to have known him.

Calvin Fish, former driver and current broadcaster: Tough day. Saddened by another loss in our paddock. Floyd Ganassi was a really cool guy who loved racing and Chips teams @CGRTeams #passion

Nicole Briscoe, racing broadcaster: Floyd Ganassi was always smiling & taking pictures. He’ll be greatly missed.

Pat Caporali, former Ganassi PR ace: I LOVE that Robin Miller talked about pix Floyd took every race wknd. I always looked forward to sorting through them for distribution.

Michael Andretti, IndyCar team owner, former Ganassi IndyCar driver: Really sad to hear of the loss of Floyd Ganassi today. My thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Ganassi family.

Bobby Rahal, IndyCar team owner: RIP Floyd Ganassi. A wonderful, generous man who epitomized “class”.

RLL Racing, IndyCar team: Our thoughts are with Chip, his family & all at CGR

IndyCar Ministry: Pray for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams on the Passing of Floyd Ganassi.  Pray for Chip and their family..  Godspeed Floyd.

Sebastian Saavedra, IndyCar driver: Thoughts for Chip Ganassi and the whole family on the passing of an amazing person. Floyd Ganassi.

John Barnes, Panther Racing team principal: Sad day yesterday learning of the passing of an old friend. The IndyCar paddock will never be the same. RIP Floyd Ganassi. We all loved you!

STATEMENTS

A.J. Foyt: “I’ve known Floyd for quite a few years–he was a real gentleman. I always looked forward to seeing him at the track. I know it’s going to hit Chip like it did me when my father died because Chip and Floyd were very close too. He was a great person and I thought the world of him.”

INDYCAR: INDYCAR offers its condolences to Chip Ganassi and the Ganassi family on the passing of his father, Floyd Ganassi. Floyd was a beloved member of the racing community who always was quick with a smile and handshake.  He will be missed.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: “Everyone at IMS is saddened to learn of the loss of Floyd Ganassi. He was such a kind, approachable man who took the time to enjoy the company of drivers, officials and fans. The photographs he took at the racetrack and sent to so many friends and acquaintances will provide lasting, fond memories of his love of people and racing. Our condolences, thoughts and prayers are extended to the Ganassi family and everyone at Chip’s racing teams.”

Brian France, NASCAR Chairman/CEO: “Floyd Ganassi was a special man. He loved racing and was very important to me and my family. We wish him Godspeed and extend our sincere condolences to the entire Ganassi family. I hope they will find peace at this difficult time.”

Comedian Adam Carolla makes pro racing debut in Trans Am

Adam Carolla pilots the No. 33 GoShare Corvette at Willow Springs International Raceway. Photo: Burtin Racing
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As the host of such shows as CarCast, Ace on the House, and Adam Carolla and Friends Build Stuff Live, and with a massive classic car collection to boot, funnyman Adam Carolla is an unapologetic gearhead who is well-versed in the car industry. He even made a documentary honoring Paul Newman in recent years. However, he recently took his love of all things automotive one step further: he contested his first professional car race.

He joined the Burtin Racing team, which fields Corvette C7.Rs in the Trans Am presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship, at California’s Willow Springs International Raceway for the High Desert Challenge, the season opener for Trans Am’s 2017 season. He piloted their No. 33 GoShare entry as a teammate to Richard Wall, who signed as a last-minute entrant for team’s the No. 7 machine.

Carolla was not daunted by the challenge. He quickly came to grips with the 850-horsepower beast and qualified a solid fifth for the 100-mile feature. In the race itself, he worked his way up to third before facing a tough challenge from Trans Am veteran and former champion Greg Pickett, who previously ran the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing effort in the American Le Mans Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Photo: Burtin Racing

However, Carolla was unfazed by Pickett’s advance and he held off the former champion to claim third, not far behind teammate Wall, who crossed the line in second. Tomy Drissi won the event in the No. 8 Ghost in The Shell Chevrolet Corvette.

For Carolla, simply contesting the Trans Am event was an honor. “For me, Trans Am has always been huge,” said Carolla, who earned the COOLSHIRT Systems “Cool Move of the Race” award for his performance.

“I have old Trans Am cars from the 70’s and 80’s. I have some 2.5 (liter) Trans Am cars from the 70’s and I have Paul Newman cars that were raced in Trans Am. So just the idea of being asked to race in the modern Trans Am was a huge honor. Just being able to hold my own in modern Trans Am was exciting to me.”

Team owner Claudio Burtin was ecstatic with Carolla’s performance. “I think we all have to take our hat off to Adam Carolla on his debut in Trans Am,” he said of Carolla. “This is a fast and difficult track at Willow Springs, and the team is ecstatic with Adam’s podium finish. GoShare is thrilled with the results and we will work to improve one step higher on the podium next time.”

The Trans Am presented by Pirelli West Championships resume action on April 29-30 at Auto Club Speedway.

Preferred Freezer Services expands partnership with Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter Racing

Mike Finnegan/Ed Carpenter Racing
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Preferred Freezer Services, which has been a sponsor of Ed Carpenter Racing and driver J.R. Hildebrand since 2014, is set to expand its partnership with both driver and team. Hildebrand’s No. 21 Chevrolet with sport the white and blue Preferred Freezer Services livery at four races during the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the first being at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 7-9. The expansion also includes the entire month of May, which will see the brand on the No. 21 for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. They will return as a primary sponsor for the Honda Indy Toronto in July and will be an associate sponsor throughout the season.

“Preferred Freezer Services was a big part of helping me get to running just the Indy 500 with ECR the first year in 2014. We’ve been fortunate to see the program grow and help it expand over the last few years,” Hildebrand said of the relationship. “I’m really excited to be able to continue that partnership and have them on board for a few more races this year! It is great to work with these guys again and I can’t wait to kick it off at such an awesome event as Long Beach.”

As Hildebrand explained, the partnership between sponsor, driver and team dates back to 2014, when Preferred Freezer Services adorned a then one-off No. 21 entry for Hildebrand, incidentally his first start for Ed Carpenter Racing. They expanded their partnership in 2015, adorning Hildebrand’s entry at that year’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Indy 500. Their presence grew even more last year, when they appeared on the cars of Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden at both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hildebrand has finished in top ten in the last three Indianapolis 500 mile races. However, his best finish remains his infamous second place at the 2011 race, in which he crashed in the final corner while leading, which yielded victory to Dan Wheldon.

Pippa Mann returns to Dale Coyne Racing for fifth straight Indy 500

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Dale Coyne Racing has confirmed Pippa Mann will be back in the team’s third car for the 2017 Indianapolis 500, which will mark her fifth consecutive year with the team and sixth start in the race overall.

She joins Sebastien Bourdais and rookie Ed Jones as Coyne’s three drivers in for the race, as the Coyne team is expected to focus just on these three after running four cars last year.

“I’m very happy to be rejoining Dale Coyne Racing for my fifth consecutive year with the team at the 101st Indy 500,” Mann said in a release.

“Dale has invested heavily in the team over the winter, and it’s an exciting time to be part of his organization. I’m looking forward to working with the same familiar faces from my 2016 campaign, like my race engineer Rob Ridgely, as well as working with the new members of the team, including my new teammates Sebastien (Bourdais) and Ed (Jones). I’m thrilled to be getting back on the race track this May for my sixth Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Mann continues her relationship with Susan G. Komen, the supporters of the pink No. 63 Honda for the last three years in an effort which first began in 2014.

As she’s done for the past four consecutive years, Mann will continue to raise awareness for the Get Involved Campaign alongside her racing program. This year, the campaign that raises money for Susan G. Komen® is partnering with Auction Cause, a premier cause marketing agency, that will run the auction on eBay for Charity. The campaign will launch May 1 and close the week following the Indy 500. The funds raised will be used to support Komen’s global breast cancer research, and community based programs throughout the U.S.

Komen continues as a key partner and Mann has announced another partnership with OrthoIndy, with further partnerships to be released soon.

“I’m also excited about the link up with Auction Cause and eBay for Charity this May,” she added. “They have so much experience running online campaigns, I feel like it’s a huge step for me, and for the Get Involved Campaign to partner with them. This new format has allowed me to reach out to more drivers, get them involved with more signed items, and I’m hoping we’re able to reach more race fans, and raise even more money for Susan G. Komen than we have ever done before.”

“It’s always a pleasure to have Pippa on board for the Indy 500 and to help promote the Get Involved Campaign, raising funds for Susan G. Komen,” Coyne said. “Pippa works hard every year to put together this program and to race in the Indy 500. With her perseverance and enthusiasm for our sport, it’s only fitting that we continue this relationship that started five years ago.”

Newgarden hails ‘spectacular’ Montoya after JPM’s first 2017 test

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At 26 years old, Josef Newgarden was watching Juan Pablo Montoya win races in CART, then Formula 1, then NASCAR as his own career was starting out.

When Montoya returned to IndyCar in 2014 at age 38, Newgarden was just 23, and the two had the chance to share a race track together for the first time.

After Newgarden’s subsequent rise over the years, he was scouted by Team Penske, and eventually signed to replace Montoya in the team’s No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

But Montoya remains part of the Team Penske landscape in 2017, driving the team’s fifth car during the month of May at both the IndyCar Grand Prix in Indianapolis and the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He’s also been mentioned as the leading candidate to drive with Penske’s highly likely but not officially confirmed future sports car program, which Penske discussed openly during a media roundtable at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener.

At last week’s test at Barber Motorsports Park, Newgarden and Montoya had the chance to work together as teammates and as Newgarden explained, having the chance to study his predecessor’s data was something he relished.

“Juan’s fun to be around. He’s an interesting guy,” Newgarden told NBC Sports. “He’s so competitive… and you can tell how competitive he is interacting with him. But it’s fun to look at his data, and have the privilege to look at that.

“I’m excited to see that at Indianapolis, because that’s the big race for all of us together at Team Penske.”

Montoya has mentioned his appreciation for Newgarden in the past, particularly after the two raced so closely for position at the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America last season.

Newgarden said he’s looked up to Montoya for years and seeing him in this element provided such a rare glimpse into his world.

“The level of respect I have for Juan is tremendous,” he said. “He’s been so spectacular, and is even more so on ovals. I’ll be so thankful to get the chance to look at his data.”

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Newgarden, who today is promoting the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 9, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and has that sandwiched in-between two tests at the Indianapolis oval. Team Penske used a team test last Friday and will be back in action as part of a Chevrolet manufacturer test on Saturday.

“It’s a great couple days to get my feet wet,” he said. “I hadn’t been around there with Team Penske yet. It’s good to get that type of knowledge early on.”