MRTI: Jones, O’Ward, Martin score Friday Indy GP wins

Photo: IndyCar

INDIANPOLIS – Fuller reports on the Mazda Road to Indy weekend at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis will follow next week, but the first three of six races are in the books on Friday.

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was the barnburner of the day with Ed Jones scoring a dramatic win in Round 6 of the season from pole, and becoming the series’ first repeat winner in the process.

Jones captured the win following a chaotic, bizarre Lap 27 restart that saw the lead change hands three times. Dean Stoneman and Santiago Urrutia also had a sniff of the top spot but Stoneman and Urrutia ran wide at Turn 7, which opened the door for Jones to get back by in his Carlin entry. Stoneman had made the move to Jones’ inside at Turn 1 to start the lap and assume the lead.

There was also a mess of moves behind them, ultimately ending with Belardi Auto Racing teammates Felix Rosenqvist and Zach Veach finishing fourth and fifth.

Less eventful were the opening rounds of the weekend for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, also won by polesitters Pato O’Ward and Anthony Martin respectively.

O’Ward controlled the Pro Mazda race, a caution-free 40-minute affair, over Juncos Racing’s Will Owen and Jake Parsons. A first lap off-course excursion helped relegate O’Ward’s Team Pelfrey teammate Aaron Telitz to seventh. O’Ward meanwhile has his fourth win in five races to open the year.

In USF2000, Martin becomes the fourth winner in five races joining Jordan Lloyd, Yufeng Luo and Parker Thompson. The Australian driver for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing inherited the pole following an earlier disqualification for Luke Gabin of JAY Motorsports, after Gabin blew the checkered flag in qualifying.

Martin then held off Thompson for the rest of the race, with Victor Franzoni of ArmsUp Motorsports completing the podium.

Second races for each of the three will follow on Saturday.

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.