Canard takes Moto 2, Dungey gets overall 450 Class Motocross win at Unadilla

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Another sweep wasn’t in the cards for Ryan Dungey this time, but it didn’t matter. With a victory in Moto 1 and a second-place finish in Moto 2 at Unadilla, the Red Bull KTM rider was able to secure his second straight overall victory.

More importantly, Dungey cut Ken Roczen’s 450 Class points lead in half today. Dungey entered the day 14 points back of his teammate. He’ll now leave Unadilla trailing by just seven points with two rounds left in the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motoross Championship.

In the first moto, Dungey used a strong start to put himself in third place behind the JGR Yamaha duo of Justin Brayton and Phil Nicoletti. By the end of the first lap though, Dungey had made his way around both riders and went on to lead every lap of the moto. Although Roczen kept it close for awhile, he couldn’t match Dungey’s pace and had to settle for second place.

The second moto of the day provided some of the best racing of the year. After Brayton earned another holeshot, Eli Tomac overtook him for the lead on the opening lap. Just over ten minutes into the moto, Trey Canard caught Tomac and was on his rear fender. The two went back-and-forth, exchanging the lead several times before Canard settled into the position on Lap 5. It wasn’t smooth sailing after that for Canard though – Tomac and Dungey caught back up to him, and both riders put on a fierce challenge late in the race. Dungey eventually passed Tomac for second, but Canard was able to secure the moto win – the first of his career in the 450 Class.

Watch a recap of 450 Moto 2:

Canard is one of the most respected riders in the series, and many were surely happy to see him finally win. One of the nicest guys in the sport, he has dealt with some severe injuries throughout the course of his career and has still managed to take his riding to new levels this year.

“I can’t tell you how good that feels,” Canard said about the moto win. “I’m not gonna sit here and cry about everything that’s happened. I’m just grateful“

As for Dungey, he’s still looking up at Roczen in the point standings, but there’s no doubt that things are trending in the right direction for him, and he’ll be hard to stop in the final two races.

“This was an awesome day,” Dungey said. “We came here and just wanted to make the best of the day and not worry about the future. It’s easy to get sidetracked, but there’s a lot of racing still.”

Unadilla 450 Class Overall Results
1. Ryan Dungey (1-2)
2. Trey Canard (4-1)
3. Eli Tomac (3-3)
4. Ken Roczen (2-4)
5. Justin Brayton (6-7)
6. Andrew Short (5-8)
7. Weston Peick (10-5)
8. Phil Nicoletti (7-9)
9. Brett Metcalfe (12-6)
10. Fredrik Noren (8-10)
*Moto 1 and Moto 2 results in parenthesis

Nearly 25 drivers already set for 2018 Indy 500… in mid-November

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Friday’s announcement that Danica Patrick would end her full-time driving career with a run in the 102nd Indianapolis 500, after also running the Daytona 500 in January, is another shot in the arm for the 2018 marquee event of North American open-wheel racing.

Surprisingly, it keeps the grid moving forward too to where nearly 75 percent of the 33 cars are already set… in mid-November, 2017.

Early confirmations of programs for the next year’s Indianapolis 500 aren’t new, but they’re seemingly coming earlier than normal this year, with a number of expected programs getting announced in the fall of 2017.

Coupled with the fact most of the IndyCar full-season grid for 2018 is set, it’s interesting to take a look at what’s already set for next year.

CONFIRMED FULL-SEASON (19)

The only things to add here are Dale Coyne Racing’s second driver in the No. 19 Honda, the road and street course driver for Ed Carpenter Racing in its No. 20 Chevrolet who may or may not be able to get an Indianapolis 500 extra seat in a third car, and the expected confirmation of Carlin’s graduation into IndyCar after three seasons in Indy Lights.

  • Team Penske (3, Chevrolet): Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power
  • Chip Ganassi Racing (2, Honda): Scott Dixon, Ed Jones
  • Andretti Autosport (4, Honda): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2, Honda): Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2, Honda): James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (2, Chevrolet): Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter (ovals)
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (2, Chevrolet): Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist
  • Dale Coyne Racing (1, Honda): Sebastien Bourdais
  • Harding Racing (1, Chevrolet): Gabby Chaves

CONFIRMED PARTIAL SEASON/INDY ONLY (4)

  • Team Penske (1, Chevrolet): Helio Castroneves
  • Andretti Autosport (1, Honda): Stefan Wilson
  • Juncos Racing (1, TBD): Kyle Kaiser
  • Team TBD (1, TBD): Danica Patrick

Here’s where it gets interesting. Castroneves is Team Penske’s confirmed fourth, and Juan Pablo Montoya could be a hypothetical fifth if the stars align – but it’s not in the immediate plans at this moment.

Patrick also makes her somewhat surprising Indianapolis comeback and with Penske, Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing not fielding her, the stars are aligned for her to drive with Chip Ganassi Racing in what would be a third car. Neither Patrick nor Ganassi said it’s happening today, but Ganassi acknowledged discussions, via NASCAR Talk.

Wilson finally gets his Indianapolis 500 shot with Andretti a year later as its fifth car. The team ran six last year, with the two Indy-only entries coming in separate partnership efforts between McLaren and Honda (Fernando Alonso) and Michael Shank Racing (Jack Harvey).

Jack Harvey is a very intriguing story for how he’ll be racing next year. NBC Sports understands a working relationship is being hatched between Shank and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and with Harvey bringing a program on behalf of AutoNation/SiriusXM to grow his role into a third-to-half season of racing, this could slot in nicely as SPM’s third car. While not “officially” confirmed, it would not be a surprise to see news revealed from the concerned parties in December.

How could Harvey become SPM three when SPM three was already announced, you ask? With the Calmels Sport with SPM program reportedly on thin ice after negative press, the unlikely union of the French team owner Didier Calmels, one-time open-wheel driver turned-sports car veteran Tristan Gommendy and SPM appears set to join the “announced and dropped before ever turning a wheel” club.

Kaiser’s four-race program with Juncos Racing was announced last month and the Indy Lights champion will likely have Chevrolet power, given the team’s existing relationship from 2017.

WHAT’S STILL TO COME

Playing it out a bit with the usual, “how many engines can each manufacturer provide” story, we know Honda ran 18 cars this year and was stretched to capacity, leaving Chevrolet with the remaining 15.

Work the math from here. Provided Carlin officially announces its entry (it still hasn’t to this point, but is known to have hired IndyCar personnel) and with Honda already stretched between its 12 previously announced full-season cars (4 Andretti, 2 Ganassi, 2 RLL, 2 SPM, 2 Coyne), with a 13th engine available at some races, Carlin would have to be at Chevrolet.

For Indianapolis, Honda already begins to work its car count further beyond those 13 (if SPM 3 gets added for more races) with Ganassi 3 (a TBD, but would be Patrick if confirmed here) and Andretti 5 (Wilson) to get to 15, which leaves just three leases at play to get to 18… again, this is in mid-November.

Provided Pippa Mann can work towards her annual appearance with Coyne, factor in a possible sixth Andretti car and an 18th Honda lease – perhaps a third car at RLL or fourth at Ganassi, SPM or Coyne – and suddenly the Honda inn would already be booked up.

Chevrolet would have the rest, and you can figure out the math from there.

It may only be mid-November, but the race to secure a berth on the grid for next May is already well underway.