IndyCar, IMS, Firestone, Shell announce eco-friendly plans, including a natural rubber tire

IndyCar Firestone green
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INDIANAPOLIS — The NTT IndyCar Series, Firestone and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are going green.

Penske Entertainment, the parent company of the series, announced Friday it will start implementing more eco-friendly plans starting with next month’s Indianapolis 500. The race is scheduled for May 29.

Firestone will debut a new and eco-friendly natural rubber guayule race tire May 27 during the Miller Lite Carb Day IndyCar Pit Stop Challenge. The tire will make its competition debut as the alternate race tire (formerly known as the “red” tire) in the Aug. 5-7 weekend at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Tennessee.

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All tires delivered to the speedway also will be relayed by electric vehicles and all electricity consumed at the speedway this May will be purchased through 100% renewable energy credits. Race organizers say fans also can offset their carbon footprint by donating to the GreenTrees reforestation project, something the speedway will support financially.

Other initiatives to be adopted this May include expanded recycling and food recovery programs and a retail store inside an electric truck where every item sold will be reusable or designed from recycled plastic.

Long-term plans by IndyCar, announced to coincide with wider efforts across the nation and globe to celebrate Earth Day, include expanded use of the guayule rubber tire and using transporters that use renewable fuel.

They were unveiled in partnership with Firestone, Shell and additional corporate partners that have worked with IMS and IndyCar on a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the venue and sport.

“This will be the most sustainable Indy 500 in our 100-plus year history,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Moreover, through excellent coordination and teamwork with partners who are true innovators in this field, we’re moving INDYCAR toward industry leadership when it comes to environmental awareness and impact.”

The tire contains natural rubber derived from the guayule shrub, which organizers say requires less re-harvesting than traditional sources of rubber.

“It will take partnership and collaboration to combat the impacts of global climate change, and we are proud to partner with Penske, IndyCar and IMS to advance the future of sustainable mobility,” said Nizar Trigui, chief technology officer and group president, Solutions Businesses, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “The introduction of guayule natural rubber to America’s preeminent open-wheel racing series speaks to the confidence we have in the technology and its promise as a scalable, sustainable and domestic raw material.”

Firestone, IMS, the state of Indiana and veteran motorsports partner Shell also announced today that all race tires being supplied for Indy 500 practice, qualifications and Race Day will be delivered to the “Racing Capital of the World” from their Central Indiana warehouse using the Freightliner eCascadia from Penske Truck Leasing’s fleet of electric vehicles.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.