IndyCar: St. Pete practice two scrubbed due to rain, and other notes


ST. PETERSBURG – The second practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was completed earlier Friday afternoon with exactly zero laps completed, due to a wet track. Free practice one times were very solid earlier in the day.

Some other notes from day one at St. Petersburg include…

  • Juan Pablo Montoya, who had led first practice until teammate Will Power knocked him off, felt much more comfortable on this Friday compared to last year. “Last year was a tough year for us at the beginning. We knew that. Normally I’m really good at remembering everything about every track and last year I think this was such a blur for me.”
  • CFH Racing’s new pairing of Josef Newgarden and Luca Filippi visited the media center for their first availability together as teammates. Filippi, who has eight prior IndyCar starts but is making his first St. Pete driving appearance this weekend, said it only takes him roughly 7 to 8 laps when closing on the limit, and then 35 laps on another set. “If it takes longer, then you just need to change jobs!” Filippi joked, to much laughter.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing Teams rookie Sage Karam estimated he was only operating at “90 percent” today as he recovers from his hand injury, and the No. 8 GE LED Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team is, like many teams, low on spare parts.
  • Fellow rookie Gabby Chaves, of the single-car Bryan Herta Autosport operation, estimated that he and his team went down the wrong road on setup. But as they were bullish on their recent NOLA test, he feels confident things can improve.
  • The other big news of the day was a collaborative partnership announced between SRO and Pirelli World Challenge, where SRO’s Blancpain GT Series will come to Circuit of the Americas next March after some PWC teams go to the Baku World Challenge to end 2015.
  • Carlin Racing impressed with a 1-2 finish in the first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires session of the year, with Ed Jones leading Max Chilton.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.