IndyCar

IndyCar points battle between Dixon, Rossi tightens; Power, Newgarden lose ground

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Alexander Rossi is like a mouse nibbling on cheese: he keeps biting off bits and pieces of Scott Dixon’s lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series points standings.

Rossi came into Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway trailing series leader Dixon by 46 points. But after winning Sunday’s race, Rossi now trails Dixon by only 29 points with three races remaining on the 2018 schedule.

“We did okay today on points, but obviously took a big hit to Rossi,” Dixon told NBCSN after the race. “Congrats to him. He’s driving fantastically at the moment. We need to have him have a bit of snafu and to slow his roll quickly.”

Is Scott Dixon feeling the pressure more now that Alexander Rossi has closed to within 29 points of his series lead? (Photo: IndyCar)

Rossi has picked up 41 points in the last two races on Dixon, having been 70 points back prior to Mid-Ohio, which Rossi ultimately won, and then earned a back-to-back victory Sunday at Pocono.

“We’re executing like we said we need to do Sundays, and we’ll do everything we can to keep that going,” Rossi told NBCSN after Sunday’s race. “There’s no time to rest now, we’re in Gateway in five, six days.”

Heading into Saturday night’s race at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis, Dixon has 530 points, Rossi has 501, defending series champion Josef Newgarden is 66 points behind Dixon at 464 points and Will Power (449 points), who finished second to Rossi Sunday, is now 81 points behind Dixon.

“Isn’t that unbelievable?” Power said. “I’ve had two really great results and Scott Dixon just keeps finishing behind me. This guy just never has a bad day, you know. In the last two races, I need him to have a bad day to even have a shot, but we’ve been running strong.”

Added Newgarden, “We were scrapping to keep that top-five (finish). That’s all we had.”

Newgarden is hoping to replicate what he did last year at Gateway, when he won. “We’ll work hard for these last three (races) now,” he said.

The championship battle had been a five-driver contest, but with Ryan Hunter-Reay being knocked out early of Sunday’s race due to a wreck with Robert Wickens, it’s unlikely Hunter-Reay (119 points behind Dixon) can rally in the final three races, even though the season finale at Sonoma Raceway offers double points.

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Dakar Stage 8 Highlights: Ricky Brabec blows engine, retires

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The motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally has been a seesaw affair through seven stages, but Ricky Brabec seemed poised to win the class for the USA. Until he blew an engine in Stage 8 that is – and gave up a more-than seven second lead. He was the second rider to retire after starting the stage as the leader. Joan Barreda retired in Stage 3.

Brabec was looking to become the first American rider to win in 27 years, but his fate was eerily similar to last year. Three days from the end of the stage, he retired about 50 kilometers into the stage, which is precisely when and where he retired in 2018.

With Brabec’s trouble, Toby Price leapfrogged from third to second in class despite riding with a metal pin in his wrist. In the world’s most grueling endurance event, it has never been more obvious that it isn’t over till it’s over.

Meanwhile, Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to run a consistent rally. With a 46 minute advantage over Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb, all he needs to do is stay error free for the final two stages to win his third Dakar.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Sebastien Loeb scored his fifth stage win of the Rally by seven minutes over Nasser Al-Attiyah, but problems in Stage 3 have kept him from being competitive for the overall lead. … Jakub Przygonski earned his third podium of the Rally. All of these have been third-place finishes.

Class Leaders: Al-Attiyah holds an advantage of 46:29 over Roma and 46:45 over Loeb.

In motorcycles, Ricky Brabec’s blown engine opened up the class once more. … Matthias Walkner narrowly edged Pablo Quintanilla by 45 seconds. … But it was Toby Price’s third-place finish that helped elevate him to the class lead. … Sam Sunderland was supposed to blaze the path for the riders, but a malfunctioning navigation system kept him from rolling off first. Blazing the trail is a disadvantage and officials adjudged him to have tampered with his system to avoid that fate. Sunderland was penalized an hour to finish 35th on the stage. He dropped to ninth in class.

Class Leaders: Price inherited the lead over Quintanilla by 1:03 and 6:35 over Walkner

In side by sides, Francisco Lopez Contardo scored the victory over Cristian Baumgart by 4:47. … Gerard Farres Guell rounded out the top three.

Class Leaders: Contardo holds an advantage 0f 54:10 over Rodrigo Piazolli and one hour, 08:09 over Guell

In quads, there was no surprise in Nicolas Cavigliasso winning his seventh stage of the season. … He padded his overall advantage over Gustavo Gallego by more than nine minutes. … Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli finished third.

Class Leaders: Cavigliasso holds and advantage of one hour, 24:52 over Ferioli and one hour, 44:04 over Gallego

In trucks, Dmitry Sotnikov won the stage to take over the class lead. He beat Ton Van Genugten by 22:01. … Siarhei Viazovich rounded out the top three. … Eduard Nikolaev lost the class lead by finishing eighth – nearly one hour behind Sotnikov.

Class Leaders: Sotnikov holds an advantage of 26:49 over and one hour, 7:43 over Gerard de Rooy

Stage Wins

Motorcycles
Sam Sunderland [2] (Stage 5 and 7), Matthias Walkner [2] (Stage 2 and 8), Joan Barreda [1] (Stage 1), Xavier de Soultrait [1] (Stage 3), Ricky Brabec [1] (Stage 4) and Pablo Quintanilla [1] (Stage 6)

Quads
Nicolas Cavigliasso [7] (Stage 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) and Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli [1] (Stage 3)

Cars
Sebastien Loeb [4] (Stage 2, 5, 6 and 8), Nasser Al-Attiyah [2] (Stage 1 and 4) and Stephane Peterhansel [2] (Stage 3 and 7)

Side-by-sides
Francisco Lopez Contardo [4] (Stage 2, 6, 7 and 8), Reinaldo Varela [1] (Stage 1), Gerard Farres Guell [1] (Stage 3), Sergei Kariakin [1] (Stage 4) and Rodrigo Piazzoli [1] (Stage 5)

Trucks
Eduard Nikolaev [3] (Stage 1, 2 and 5), Andrey Karginov [2] (Stage 3 and 4), Dmitry Sotnikov [2] (Stage 6 and 8) and Gerard de Rooy [1] (Stage 7)

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