Chip Ganassi lobbying for IndyCar schedule changes

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INDIANAPOLIS – Chip Ganassi likes the improvements at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but still believes the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule could use some work.

“If I have any complaints about the condensed schedule, it’s hard on the teams,” the team owner said. “You have this hurry up thing for six months, and then we sit for six months. I think that’s a recipe for disaster. I think the schedule needs to be loosened and expanded a little bit.”

IndyCar opened March 29 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and will conclude Aug. 30 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Last month, the circuit criss-crossed the country from New Orleans to Long Beach, Calif., to Birmingham, Ala., in three consecutive weeks. After Sunday’s 99th Indianapolis 500, IndyCar hits a stretch of three straight races at Detroit (a doubleheader), Texas Motor Speedway and Toronto.

“These guys need some rest,” Ganassi said. “We go right out of here to two races in Detroit. That’s hard on the guys. What happens is your race teams are finding other things to do — other series to get involved in, other racing — and it’s going to dilute from what we have here.”

Ganassi can actually speak to that, given he also has programs in NASCAR, the TUDOR Championship and, most recently, an introduction into Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Ganassi, who turns 57 Sunday, was in an upbeat mood Friday morning while addressing reporters at the track’s famous yard of bricks.

“I couldn’t be happier with all the additions they’ve made here,” he said, pointing to a new scoring pylon that made its debut last summer. “You see the new televisions going in, the new video screens. I’m excited to hear what they’re doing on the front straightaway with the seating. They’re putting their money where their mouth is.”

–Ganassi said he approved of the last-minute changes to the qualifying format to accommodate a spate of wrecks in which cars got airborne. “I’m not going to sit here and bad- mouth the organizers,” he said. “They had a situation. They made a decision. I think they made the right decision. I think it could have been made a lot earlier and quicker.”

–On pole-sitter Scott Dixon’s chances for Sunday: “I’m excited because I think he has a better race car than a qualifying car,” Ganassi said. “That’s what we’re most excited about. He’s Scott Dixon, you know the kind of racer he is. We’re pretty excited we have a good car. His chances are as good as they’ve ever been.”

–On whether he will accede to NASCAR driver Kyle Larson’s desire to run Indy: “You never know. We talk about it all the time. I was just talking to him about it yesterday. Yes, he is (eager). We haven’t said no to him. We haven’t said yes, either.”

–On what IndyCar can do to build its popularity: “All sports are looking for momentum these days. Every sport can be doing something more to gain momentum. I think you have to have the desire to want to learn and to improve. If you do that, that’s the first step. It’s like an alcoholic, the first step is you have to admit you have a problem first.”

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.