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Pierre Gasly confirmed for Super Formula drive

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Pierre Gasly has followed Stoffel Vandoorne in now two areas: he’s won a GP2 championship, and he’s spending his next season of racing in Super Formula in Japan.

The 20-year-old Frenchman, part of the Red Bull Junior Team, missed out on a Scuderia Toro Rosso drive when the team retained Daniil Kvyat alongside Carlos Sainz Jr. for the upcoming Formula 1 season.

However with Red Bull keen to keep Gasly racing sharp, he’ll be placed into Super Formula this season with a team to be announced at a later date.

It’s a deep open-wheel field and usually takes a bit of time for newcomers to establish themselves, and so how Gasly gets on will be one of the more interesting parts of the year. Vandoorne finished fourth this year, and won twice.

“It is all going to be very different, I have no experience with the car or the tracks and I know that the Japanese culture, philosophy, way of working, just about everything is different. It is a fantastic new challenge and I love that,” Gasly said.

Gasly’s placement was confirmed as part of the full Red Bull Junior Team announcement for the 2017 season.

The other four drivers confirmed are Dan Ticktum (17, Britain), Niko Kari (17, Finland), Richard Verschoor (16, Netherlands) and Neil Verhagen (15, U.S.).

Verschoor, Verhagen and Ticktum will all race in Renault 2.0, Verschoor and Verhagen with MP Motorsport and Ticktum with Arden International. Verschoor is already racing this winter in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand.

Verhagen, who tested a Tatuus USF-17 car for the USF2000 series over the winter, is the first American that’s part of the Red Bull Junior Team since John Edwards raced a Red Bull-backed Atlantic car in 2007. Edwards is now a BMW factory driver in sports cars.

Kari will race in GP3 with Arden in his second year as a Red Bull Junior.

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.