Pocono provides latest pendulum swing between Power, Pagenaud


It seems to change by the race, doesn’t it?

If you start strong in the Verizon IndyCar Series, but are unable to sustain that momentum entirely over the course of a season, you are often unable to capture the championship as a result.

Just look at some of those who’ve led early in the past seven or eight years since the North American open-wheel merger… Ryan Briscoe in 2009, Will Power in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Helio Castroneves in 2013 and Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015 are among those who rolled out to early season wins but hit speed bumps too late in the game to recover for the title.

By contrast, really only Scott Dixon (2008) and Power (2014) have parlayed enough season-long consistency to maintain a championship lead, and then secured crucial late season wins to position themselves as the title favorite.

Right now Simon Pagenaud, who’s led the points standings since Phoenix in April, is closer to that latter category, but he risks moving into the former following a nightmare weekend in Pocono.

Barring a miracle, Dixon won’t be able to retain his crown, and so the 2016 season has shaped up as a Power vs. Pagenaud duel for the title. Until Pocono, Pagenaud had been in the Dixon/Power consistency camp with almost no mistakes.

Just three weeks ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the narrative centered on Pagenaud’s aggression, and how that move on Power at Turns 12 and 13 would prove pivotal in the championship race.

Indeed it has, because after Pagenaud’s debacle of a Pocono weekend culminating with his Lap 158 accidentthat move is the singular gap between he and Power with just three races remaining in the 2016 season.

A 20-point gap is the result of Power gaining 38 points on Pagenaud on Monday in Pocono. That 38-point margin is what it would have been had Pagenaud not pulled the trigger on the Mid-Ohio move; instead, that move single-handedly swung it 20 points back to 58 entering Pocono.

Putting aside Pagenaud’s Pocono weekend, where he qualified a season-worst 14th and finished a season-worst 18th at the worst possible time, this is the point in the year where you think about where and how both drivers have left points on the table this year.

Granted, this is with hindsight, but it is still fascinating to look at where we are now as a result of how we got here:

  • At St. Petersburg, Team Penske made the, in hindsight, interesting decision to substitute Oriol Servia for Will Power for the race. Power had qualified on the pole and netted one point, but by moving Servia into the car rather than establishing the car as a DNS with Power listed, Team Penske gave up four points for Power. Where does the four come from, you ask? A 22nd place (last place) finish would have netted eight and per Rule 10.3.5 of the 2016 INDYCAR Rulebook, half points. Add the pole point and Power would have achieved five points in St. Petersburg, rather than the one he walked away with.
  • A spin at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, a race Pagenaud won, left Power playing catch-up and in a hole after finishing 19th. After that race – Race 5 of 16 this season – Power stood 10th in points, and 137 back of Pagenaud (242-105).
  • Iowa and Toronto may now loom larger in Pagenaud’s rear view mirror as lost opportunities from a bigger picture standpoint. Running second at Iowa until the closing laps, Pagenaud faded to fourth there, while Power charged to second. Meanwhile in Toronto, like Dixon ahead of him, Pagenaud’s team mistimed when he needed to pit for his final stop upon the last yellow, and he fell to ninth – one spot behind Dixon. Power gained six extra points on Pagenaud in Iowa but a fuller 28 points on him in Toronto. It’s also worth noting that while Jack Hawksworth alleged Pagenaud hit him in Toronto, there was no penalty assessed to the Frenchman by Race Control owing to a lack of suitable video evidence; that might be a case where Pagenaud lucks out down the road.
  • Mechanicals have impacted both drivers, but Pagenaud more so.


It’s also worth noting that both drivers have been hamstrung by mechanical gremlins this year, and that’s cost them both – but Pagenaud has been hit harder by mechanical woes than has Power.

Power’s reeled off a run of four wins and two second-place finishes since Detroit race one, when a wheel came off after a pit stop and he was parked off course at Turn 3, done for the day. He then won Detroit race two to restart his charge.

Pagenaud? There’s been a bunch of points left on the table owing to mechanical woes. The 19th at the Indianapolis 500, 13th at Detroit race one and 13th at Road America all were potential top-five to top-seven runs, at least, and you could probably estimate a good 65 to 75 points were lost as a result of those finishes.


Pagenaud, who told me going into the weekend he actually loves the pressure, must respond now from the most pressure he’ll have faced all season. His 20-point lead is the smallest he’s had since Long Beach, back in April (seems an eternity ago), when it was just 14 over Scott Dixon (134 to 120)… and Power sat eighth in points (72 back with 62).

Every race since, it’s been 47 points or more – that’s over a span of nine races and four months since Barber in April.

If Pagenaud loses the title, Pocono is his “Briscoe at Motegi pit out” moment… the one single mistake that you can’t afford to make in your first attempt at trying to secure an IndyCar championship.

And this is where Power, who has a title in 2014 plus the experience gained from having lost three in a row in heartbreaking fashion before winning that elusive first title, may have a mental edge. Now 35, Power has morphed almost into the sage that Team Penske has on its payroll – Rick Mears – or the sage that was his longtime title rival and sparring partner a few years ago in Dario Franchitti.

He’s let the points come to him, all the while seizing his moments over the last six races with a torrid streak of four wins and two seconds. He’s gained 104 points on Pagenaud in that time, moving from 12th to second in points.

It’s crazy how Pagenaud’s three wins and two seconds in the first five races seemed impossible to beat.

Yet Power has just done so over his last six races.

It’s game on from here between the Team Penske teammates as the pendulum in the title bout has swung once again.


Take a look at how the pendulum has swung between Pagenaud and Power in the points, in the below table and below line graph:

Pagenaud 83 134 188 242 292 313 357 375 409 432 484 497
Power 36 62 94 105 178 189 240 294 334 385 426 477
Gap 47 72 94 137 114 124 117 81 75 47 58 20
Power Pos 12 8 7 10 11 12 7 3 3 2 2 2


Additionally, here’s the breakout of Pagenaud’s gap to second place since Phoenix, site of Power’s first actual race start this year, and Power’s progress in the races since.

First 83 134 188 242 292 313 357 375 409 432 484 497
Second 79 120 140 166 235 254 277 301 336 385 426 477
Gap 4 14 48 76 57 59 80 74 73 47 58 20
Power 36 62 94 105 178 189 240 294 334 385 426 477
Gap 47 72 94 137 114 124 117 81 75 47 58 20
Pos 12 8 7 10 11 12 7 3 3 2 2 2

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. 

Women in SuperMotocross: Jordan Jarvis knows how tough it is

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. 

Women in SuperMotocross Ashley Fiolek is building community

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.”