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Target confirms exit from IndyCar at end of 2016 season

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Target has confirmed it will end its 27-year run with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, the longest team/sponsor relationship in North American open-wheel racing, on Wednesday.

The decision, first reported by the Associated Press although rumors of which have been swirling throughout the year, particularly in recent weeks, will see Target end its sponsorship of Scott Dixon at the end of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. A team spokesperson confirmed the news to NBC Sports as well.

Recent management changes within the company have driven this decision, although the AP report indicated and the team confirmed Target will continue with Kyle Larson’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program through 2017.

“It’s the greatest sponsor in racing, ever.  They’ve been nothing but good to me,” Ganassi said in a team-issued quote. “They developed me personally and professionally. I’ve developed lifelong friends and relationships.  It is unfortunate they will be leaving the IndyCar Series but rest assured that the No. 9 Chevrolet and the reigning IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon will still be in the IndyCar Series next year and beyond, the car will just have different colors on it.  We are working through some of those options now.

“Also, we are happy they will remain in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Kyle Larson and the No. 42.  I understand things change and people have different marketing efforts. It’s one of the longest running sponsors in racing and they delivered for me and the team, and the team delivered for them.”

Dixon, Ganassi’s longtime stalwart driver, has driven a Target-sponsored car since 2002 when he joined the team midseason and won four championships.

“I can’t thank Target enough for their partnership on and off the track over the years,” Dixon said in a quote released by the team.

“They have been with the INDYCAR team for an amazing 27 years, which is unheard of in professional sports, and on the car I’ve driven for the past 15 seasons. I have nothing but great memories and much thanks for Target being great partners for so long. I’m looking forward to being in the 9 car for years to come and fighting for more wins and championships with Chip and the team.”

Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman &. Co., INDYCAR’s parent company, said “INDYCAR would like to thank Target for its exceptional commitment to open-wheel racing and to Chip Ganassi Racing for its stewardship of the partnership for the past 27 years. The Target brand will always be an integral part of our sport’s history as the number of race victories, championships and Indianapolis 500 wins that occurred in the iconic red livery were unprecedented. We’re confident that the No. 9 will have new colors to carry in the near future as the team continues its success in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

Target first joined the team in 1990 and while it was a presence on Ganassi cars for its first six years through 1995, in 1996 when the team shifted to an all-red livery with the yellow lightning bolt – a paint scheme which was brought back for the start of the 2016 season.

Together, Ganassi and Target have won 11 championships and four Indianapolis 500s. Champions for the team include its first champion, Jimmy Vasser, then Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dixon and Dario Franchitti.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.