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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IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold