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Hitachi re-ups with Team Penske in IndyCar, as well

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After yesterday’s news that PPG would continue with Team Penske into 2017, so too will another longtime Team Penske partner, Hitachi.

Team Penske announced today that Hitachi will be on board for eight races as primary sponsor for Helio Castroneves’ No. 3 Chevrolet. It’s usually the dominant primary sponsor before Shell Pennzoil gets a couple races.

Hitachi also serves as an associate sponsor for the other three full-season Team Penske drivers, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Josef Newgarden.

“Our partnership with Hitachi has evolved into a highly-integrated relationship that extends across multiple business platforms,” said Roger Penske. “Hitachi continues to work in conjunction with Chevrolet on the fuel injection systems in the Chevy Indy cars so they are truly engaged with our on-track performance. Beyond the track, the relationship with Hitachi continues to grow and we are proud of the success we have shared through our joint marketing and promotional initiatives.”

Castroneves added, “Partnering with Hitachi and representing their brand is a true honor. Continuing to have Hitachi on the car is both exciting and motivating. They are so much more than a partner to me. They’ve become part of the family.”

A guide to the Team Penske partner portfolio is below. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, AAA, Shell Pennzoil, DeVilbiss, Hawk Performance and REV Group Inc. also served as primary sponsors on at least one if not more of the Team Penske IndyCars this year and earlier this week, Discount Tire was also announced as an associate sponsor for Penske’s IndyCar program.

  • Verizon (No. 12, Power, full season)
  • Menards (No. 1, Pagenaud, 10 races primary)
  • Hitachi (No. 3, Castroneves, 8 races primary, full-time associate)
  • PPG (Car TBD, 4 races primary, full-time associate)

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).