Pietro Fittipaldi

The XPEL Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR will be the first race at the Wisconsin road course for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Pietro Fittipaldi.

Among the 15 tracks on the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule, Fittipaldi, 27, came into the year with experience at four of them – Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, World Wide Technology Raceway and Portland International Raceway.

That is why Fittipaldi was the busiest driver in practice Friday at Road America, completing 29 laps in the No. 30 5-hour ENERGY Honda. He turned that many laps even though his nine prior NTT INDYCAR SERIES starts prevent him from rookie status, a designation that provides first-year drivers with an additional set of primary Firestone Firehawk racing tires in the first weekend practice session to learn the tracks.

Fittipaldi doesn’t get the benefit of that extra set despite being a track “rookie” this weekend at Road America. He had to burn one of his seven sets of primary tires Friday to get acclimated.

“Every time in the first practice session, it’s always doing as many laps as possible on the first set of tires because I’m not deemed a rookie, so we have one set less,” he said. “We’re always a little bit on the back foot in terms of using that extra set to try to learn the track.”

Fittipaldi made good work, setting the 11th-quickest time with a top lap of 1 minute, 43.7134 seconds.

“It was a very good practice session,” Fittipaldi said. “The team gave me a good car today. Probably the best track I’ve raced in the U.S. There’s still many I haven’t learned yet, but this one, by far, is number one at the moment.”

Family history is another reason Fittipaldi is eager to compete in the 55-lap race Sunday at Road America (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).

His grandfather, Emerson Fittipaldi, won on the 4.014-mile picturesque Wisconsin road course in 1986, 1988 and 1992 while Christian Fittipaldi, Pietro’s first cousin once removed, earned his first INDYCAR SERIES win here in 1999.

Pietro Fittipaldi said he hopes for a strong weekend because his comfort level of racing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is rising. He ranks 21st in points with a best finish of 13th in both the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding and last week’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.

Arrow McLaren Climbing with Momentum

Following three of its four cars finishing in the top 11 of the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 26, including second-place finisher Pato O’Ward and fourth via Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren upped the ante a week later on the streets of Detroit.

All three of its drivers finished in the top 10, with Rossi leading the charge in his No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet in fifth. O’Ward and rookie Theo Pourchaire finished seventh and 10th, respectively.

"We roll into this weekend's race at Road America with some positive momentum after a couple weekends where we executed well across all our cars,” Team Principal Gavin Ward said. “Putting together consistent, clean results is how you compete for championships, and with both Pato and Alexander in the top five in the standings, we enter the summer with a bit of ground to make up but in the fight.

“Theo showed great pace and daring race craft in Detroit as he continues to quickly get to grips with NTT INDYCAR SERIES racing. We've generally had great pace at Road America, and that iconic track and awesome fan base makes this weekend a highlight of the year."

O’Ward rides into Road America in his No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet fourth in the points standings, 56 behind leader Scott Dixon. O’Ward qualified second and finished third last year. He was ninth fastest in Friday’s practice, at 1:43.6815.

"Since this track was repaved, Road America has become one of my absolute favorite tracks,” O’Ward said. “It's a track that's able to show everything that an NTT INDYCAR SERIES car is capable of, and the racing always seems to be great here.”

Rossi, the 2019 XPEL Grand Prix at Road America winner, ascended to fifth in points (-66) after entering the “500” 10th in the standings. He has five top-10 finishes in his last six Road America starts including an NTT P1 Award in 2022.

Pourchaire makes his Road America debut in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet.

Conquer Paralysis Now Gala’ Raises Record $1.7 Million

For the third straight year, the onsemi Racing to Recovery Gala presented by Youth Opportunity, benefiting Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN) and the DRIVEN NeuroRecovery Centers, raised over $1 million – this time exceeding $1.7 million for the annual fundraising event.

The gala was available to attend in person – with locations in Indianapolis and Las Vegas – and virtually through an online livestream. More than 500 people attended the 24th annual event May 24.

The totals for both the funds raised and attendance mark increases of 30 percent over previous records. CPN founder Sam Schmidt informed Gala attendees that the opening of the new facility is scheduled for this September in Indianapolis.

Odds and Ends

  • Five different organizations were represented in the top five practice times Friday: Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Global, AJ Foyt Racing, Team Penske and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
  • On his opening practice lap, Juncos Hollinger Racing driver Romain Grosjean made contact with the Turn 14 barrier, sparking the first red flag of the session. Grosjean was asked by Peacock how much this sets back the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet team leading into Saturday. “It is what it is, and we just have to deal with it,” he said. Grosjean has made three Road America starts, with a best finish of fourth while driving for Andretti Global in 2022.
  • Andretti Global INDY NXT by Firestone driver Louis Foster led the 21-car field in practice with a top time of 1:51.9070 in his No. 26 Copart/Novara Technologies entry. Foster is aiming to become the first driver since Linus Lundqvist in his 2022 championship winning season to win three consecutive races.