Next 3 weeks could shake up IndyCar’s points before Sonoma finale

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After a two-week break from racing, albeit not from testing, the Verizon IndyCar Series resumes with three races in three weekends starting this Sunday.

The series runs a 500-miler at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway this Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN), the resumption of the Texas race at the 1.5-miler next Saturday night, then marks its return at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, Sept. 4.

The unpredictability of those three races could shake up the points standings before the season finale at Sonoma Raceway on Sept. 18.

There’s four distinct tiers in points at the moment: the top two, positions three to 11, and then 12 to 14, before those from 15 on back need three dramatically good races to make any headway.


1. Simon Pagenaud, 484
2. Will Power, 426

Pagenaud and Power are separated by 58 points with four races to go and are the two most likely title contenders – it would take both of them having for sure one and possibly two “off” races to bring the field back to them. Pagenaud also made a huge pass of Power at Mid-Ohio; the net 20-point swing that came with him winning and Power being second could be the title-deciding moment of 2016.

Starting with Pocono first, neither driver has won there. Pagenaud has finished sixth, sixth and seventh in three starts while Power has gone fourth, 10th and fourth. Team Penske, for whatever reason, was not as dynamite at the Indianapolis 500 this year as you’d have expected and if either finishes in the lower top-10 range it could bring the field back to them.

Texas is next. Power has one win in the second half of the same night Texas doubleheader in 2011, and Pagenaud is also yet to win there.

Pagenaud has raced smart this year and so long as he minimizes potential damage from the two oval races that lie ahead – even though he’s raced and finished better on ovals thus far this year at Phoenix and Iowa – will keep him atop the heap of the points standings with just the two more permanent road course races remaining after Texas.


3. Helio Castroneves, 373
4. Josef Newgarden, 364
5. Scott Dixon, 357
6. Tony Kanaan, 357
7. James Hinchcliffe, 329
8. Carlos Munoz, 328
9. Graham Rahal, 324
10. Charlie Kimball, 318
11. Alexander Rossi, 316

The 57-point gap between third-placed Castroneves and 11th-placed Rossi is one less, covering nine drivers, than the 58-point margin from Pagenaud to Power.

Castroneves would need his first win in two-plus years and a bit of help to re-enter the title fray, but you can’t put it past him entirely. Like Kanaan, he’s been dependably solid if not the outright fastest driver this year, once again.

Newgarden figures to lose the most ground here by way of his enforced DNF looming at Texas, but if he can maximize his points at Pocono, where he was second last year, and at Watkins Glen, he can still secure his first top-five finish in the championship.

Dixon, who’s finished in the top three in points every year since 2006 (last time out was 2005), has endured a rough go of races lately with his mechanical gremlins at Road America, his pit mistiming at Toronto and his clash with Castroneves at Mid-Ohio. You almost never see the four-time and defending series champion pressing this much, but considering Dixon has won previously at each of the final four tracks, he must be poised to get back on form. He enters this weekend tied with Kanaan in points. Kanaan could easily win one of the last four himself; he’s been on form most of the year and has been particularly strong on the permanent road course.

The unofficial “best in class” battle among Honda drivers sees Hinchcliffe, Munoz, Rahal and Rossi all separated by only 13 points, so that figures to fluctuate over the coming weeks. It’s Rossi who’s the surprise among that group; the Californian has taken well to ovals this year and could add a second win to his famous Indianapolis 500 triumph if Andretti Autosport’s Pocono pace matches what it did at Indy.

Kimball’s the stealth member of that group because his results would ordinarily have placed him higher than 10th in points. Needs one more standout run and a first podium of the year to climb higher in the standings.


12. Juan Pablo Montoya, 299
13. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 294
14. Sebastien Bourdais, 283

These three 30-plus-year-old veterans have had frustrating campaigns. Montoya and Bourdais have a win apiece and RHR has come close but no cigar. On talent these are not your 12th, 13th and 14th place drivers in the field and for various reasons, their seasons haven’t panned out the way they hoped.

Hunter-Reay, a year ago, went from 14th to sixth in the final four races of the year courtesy of a pair of wins at Iowa and Pocono and a podium in Sonoma.

I’d bet you’ll see at least one if not two or three of this trio break into the top-10 in points by year’s end.


15. Takuma Sato, 257
16. Mikhail Aleshin, 243
17. Conor Daly, 240
18. Marco Andretti, 238
19. Max Chilton, 187
20. Jack Hawksworth, 162

Frustrating campaigns for each of these six drivers will see them looking to end their years with any sort of momentum. Sato and Daly have had a handful of decent results; Aleshin was unlucky not to win Mid-Ohio; Andretti’s endured a nightmare 2016 season while Englishmen Chilton and Hawksworth have shown the occasional flashes but not been able to hold it together fully over a weekend.

It’s doubtful any of these six will make major headway in points, and Daly will probably lose at least one spot as like Newgarden, he’s out at Texas. Still, a good result at the double points Sonoma finale could help any of these drivers.

Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”