What to watch for: IndyCar at Sonoma (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN & Live Extra)

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HELIO’S TASK

As winner of three of the last four races at Sonoma, championship leader Will Power is pretty much the man to beat in today’s 85-lap race. This may be a day where all Helio Castroneves (second in the championship, -40 points behind Power) can do is minimize the points damage going into next weekend’s season-ending race at Fontana. With double points in play for that event, Castroneves can still feel somewhat okay about his title chances if he can at least earn a podium this afternoon. He’ll start sixth on the grid.

OH…THAT’S SLICK

Sonoma’s low-grip surface is always a major obstacle for drivers, and with the dusty ground surrounding the racing ribbon, a slide up off the kerbs and into the dirt can lead to the loss of precious track position. Tire wear is also going to be an important factor once again.

EARTHQUAKE ISSUES

After this morning’s 6.0 earthquake that centered around Napa, California, IndyCar and Sonoma officials announced that today’s race would go on as scheduled since there was no damage to the road course and its surrounding facilities. However, there are reportedly contingency plans in place should an aftershock occur.

RECORD STILL IN SIGHT

Since Power won last weekend in Milwaukee, we’re still waiting for an 11th different winner this year – which would tie an American open-wheel record. Josef Newgarden has the best chance of being that guy, as he starts on the front row for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (he was also second in this morning’s warmup session behind Scott Dixon). But don’t count out James Hinchcliffe in fourth and Ryan Briscoe in fifth. It’s definitely a good thing for them to have been able to qualify that high, as no IndyCar winner at Sonoma has started from beyond P5 (Dixon, 2007).

Ka-boom! NHRA Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon blows up brand new car body

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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Former NHRA Funny Car champ Cruz Pedregon was a happy man coming into Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colorado (a suburb of Denver).

The reason Pedregon was feeling good was he had a brand new Toyota Camry body atop his Funny Car chassis. It was state of the art, it looked fast and it was prepared to run fast.

And everything really looked good as soon as Pedregon hit the gas in his qualifying run vs. Tim Wilkerson.

Well, for a few seconds, that is.

As the two drivers hurtled down the 1,000-foot drag strip, Pedregon’s brand new body was destroyed in a massive explosion.

Fortunately, Pedregon was uninjured.

Check out the big ka-boom: