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.”

With 200 IndyCar wins in the books, Penske looks for No. 201 at Indy

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The history of Team Penske at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a storied one that features 16 Indy 500 wins, including a pair of four-time winners in Al Unser and Rick Mears, and number of utterly dominant performances.

Yet, they’ll head to this year’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 looking to avenge a pair of relatively subpar performances in each of the last two years.

Power was the only Penske driver to finish in the Top 10 in 2016, with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud finishing 11th and 19th after fuel strategy intervened late in the race. And last year, all the Penske cars were somewhat down on pace compared to other teams, notably the Honda cars.

Power was the only Penske driver to qualify for the Fast Nine Pole Shootout last year – he qualified ninth. Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves were 18th and 19th in the grid, while Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud were 22nd and 23rd.

And only Castroneves was in winning contention in the final laps as he battled eventual winner Takuma Sato – Montoya was sixth, while Pagenaud was 14th and the only other Penske running at the end. Both Newgarden and Power crashed out on Lap 183.

This year, however, could see a return to the dominant form we’re used to seeing from the Penske outfit. All four cars entered – Pagenaud, Power, Newgarden, and Castroneves – qualified inside the top nine, with Pagenaud and Power on the front row.

They have all been near the front of the time sheets, especially in laps without a tow from another car, and the indication is that the Penske cars may be the fastest ones in the field.

All told, it leads to very high expectations for a team that already expects highly of itself.

Leading the way for Penske is current points leader and defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden. Newgarden’s best Indy 500 finish is third in 2016, but he only has one other Top 10 there – ninth in 2015.

But, with an IndyCar title now under his belt, Newgarden has his eyes set on an Indy 500 win.

Josef Newgarden looks to add an Indy 500 crown to his 2017 championship. Photo: IndyCar

“I think Indianapolis…is certainly next on the list for me,” he detailed in a press conference ahead of qualifying. “It’s not next on the list for the team, they’ve won it many times. The good thing is we have four great opportunities, especially having Helio back. I think we have one of the best opportunities in the entire field to win this race.”

Pagenaud, like Newgarden, is also looking for his first Indy triumph, though his record there isn’t quite as good. He has been fast at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but only has two Top 10s to show for it – eighth in 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and tenth in 2015 in his first year with Penske.

And a Pagenaud win would be somewhat historic – it would be only the fourth time a French driver has won the “500,” and the first since 1920 (Gaston Chevrolet).

Pagenaud explained that this race always holds a place as a top priority, and that success at Indy is all about preparation.

Simon Pagenaud looks to become only the first French driver to win an Indy 500 since Gaston Chevrolet in 1920. Photo: IndyCar

“It really is our number one goal. In Roger and Tim’s heart, it’s the most important one,” Pagenaud declared. “We prepare really hard. The team does a fantastic job at just understanding every bit and component of this new aero kit, trying to extract the best out of the equipment.”

Pagenaud added, “On the driver side, there’s a lot you can do obviously to review the past races, try to focus yourself, try to put yourself into the race before it happens, try to just improve. That’s what we try to do every day. That’s the goal. That’s why this group is so good. We push each other so hard that you always try to push the limits away.”

Power, the man who delivered Penske his 200th IndyCar win, is no stranger to success at IMS, having won the Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course three times. But, he is yet to find Victory Lane on the oval, and that leaves a void in an otherwise stellar career.

Will Power has won the INDYCAR Grand Prix three times, and looks for his first win at the “500” this weekend. Photo: IndyCar

Power spotlighted the opportunity in front of him, and detailed that running in traffic has been a strength thus far through practice.

“It’s fantastic to have that opportunity. Obviously very focused on (trying to win),” he revealed. “I feel like we have a really good opportunity to win this year. I mean, I think Chevrolet has brought a really good engine. I feel like we’re really fast. Running in traffic and such, I felt like we’ve been pretty strong, especially when you get to the front.”

Castroneves is the only Penske driver with Indy 500 wins on his resume. But, with three wins to his name, Castroneves is more than familiar with IMS glory.

Now a part-time IndyCar driver who races full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship with the Acura Team Penske outfit, Castroneves’ sole focus is on getting that elusive fourth win.

Helio Castroneves looks to join the four-time winners club at the Indy 500. Photo: IndyCar

And he has momentum on his side too, coming off a debut IMSA win for the Acura Penske outfit at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. A fourth Indy 500 win would put an exclamation point on the month for Castroneves.

“I think about it every day,” he said when asked about how often he ponders getting that fourth win. “It was one of those incredible ones, I have phenomenal car, the Pennzoil car was really strong last year. Obviously coming back here, first of all, I want to thank Roger and (team president Tim Cindric) for giving me the opportunity to be back at the Indy 500. It’s such a special place for so many people. Just to be back and able to continue our goal and pursue for the number four, it’s incredible.”

Pagenaud and Power will flank pole sitter Ed Carpenter on the front, starting second and third respectively. Newgarden starts fourth, while Castroneves will start eighth.

Follow@KyleMLavigne