Six remaining IndyCar championship contenders to be busy in the days leading up to big race at Sonoma

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The six remaining Verizon IndyCar Series championship contenders will be so busy over the next few days that Sunday’s season finale and title-deciding GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma race may be like a drive in the country.

Juan Pablo Montoya leads Graham Rahal by 34 points, followed by Scott Dixon (-47), defending series champ Will Power (-61), Helio Castroneves (-77) and Josef Newgarden (-87).

This marks the 10th consecutive season that the championship will be decided in the final race of the season. In a unique twist, Sunday’s race will offer double the usual driver points, meaning a maximum of 104 points is available to be earned by a single driver.

To build up excitement and momentum for Sunday’s race, drivers will appear at a number of events over the next three days that are sure to draw lots of fans in attendance.

Here’s a quick rundown of those events:

Wednesday: Press conference at California State Capitol in Sacramento (12:45 pm PT). State Sen. Jim Nielsen will offer a proclamation celebrating the IndyCar championship being decided for the fourth consecutive year in the state (the previous three years, the championship deciding race was held at Auto Club Speedway).

Thursday: Five of the six drivers (Rahal will not attend) will take part in a photo/media opportunity (10:30 am PT) prior to that day’s San Francisco Giants —- Chicago Cubs game. The reason Rahal won’t be there on Thursday is because he threw out the first pitch on Wednesday. Drivers will pose with the Astor Cup (IndyCar Series championship trophy), as well as the Giants’ Commissioner’s Trophy for winning last year’s World Series.

Also on Thursday: Several championship drivers, along with James Hinchcliffe, will take part in a crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge in their race cars. One of the northbound lanes of the bridge will be closed at 12:30 p.m. PT to allow for the procession as it heads towards Sonoma. Hinchcliffe will drive the INDYCAR Experience street-legal two-seat IndyCar, with the Astor Cup championship trophy alongside him in the passenger’s seat. Right behind will be the Holmatro Safety Team vehicles, as well as race cars driven by Newgarden, Power and Rahal.

Friday: All six championship contenders will take part in a 1:30 pm PT press conference in the Sonoma Raceway media center.

Saturday: Another press conference will be held at the racetrack at approximately 4:20 pm PT following qualifying. The pole-sitter and select championship contenders will take part.

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Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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SMX develops “Leader Lights”
Power Rankings after Detroit
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan
Results and points after Detroit
Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points