Photos: Jerry Bonkowski

IndyCar: Four championship drivers play San Francisco tourists for a day prior to Sunday’s big race

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SAN FRANCISCO — Sunday is the big day for the four remaining contenders for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway.

But Wednesday was fun day for Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Will Power and Josef Newgarden, who along with about a dozen media members in tow took in the sights of San Francisco.

The quartet and media took a trolley car over the Golden Gate Bridge to Vista Point, which overlooks the City by the Bay’s downtown, as well as Alcatraz Island.

There, they took photos with the championship trophy that one of them will proudly take home Sunday night, indicative of being the 2018 IndyCar champion.

Interestingly enough, the trolley driver said she was a sportsman race car driver in her spare time.

From there, it was on to Fisherman’s Wharf, where the drivers took part in media interviews as well as had a local artist draw caricatures of themselves.

Will Power has been in the Bay area for more than a week, staying there with his family since last week’s closed test at Sonoma Raceway. He had an added bonus of sorts at Fisherman’s Wharf, seeing sea lions for the first time in his life.

Then it was on to a place where the four drivers really had to test their skills – at cracking hard-shell crabs. It wasn’t as easy as it looked for at least a couple of the drivers. Guess it’s easier to drive an open-wheel car at 220 mph.

The drivers then wrapped up the tour with some famous Ghirardelli chocolates and a nice lunch overlooking the harbor.

All four drivers were in good spirits, acted loose, laughed and smiled a lot, cracked jokes and even did a little bit of good-natured ribbing with each other.

Of course, Sunday will be totally different and all business.

Here are a few more photos of Wednesday’s activities:

Alexander Rossi showed some good proficiency cracking crabs.

 

 

Rossi, Newgarden and Power savor the crabs they cracked.
Sea lions sunning and enjoying the day alongside Fisherman’s Wharf. It was the first time Will Power had ever seen a sea lion.
Drivers getting some famous Ghirardelli chocolates.
Here’s the hardware the new champion will tote home after Sunday’s race.

 

 

 

Christopher Bell wins third straight Chili Bowl

@cbnationals, Twitter
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Christopher Bell passed Kyle Larson on the final lap of the 55-lap A-Feature to win the 33rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Bell is only the second driver in event history to win three consecutive Golden Drillers, joining Kevin Swindell who holds the record with four.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to win the Chili Bowl,” Bell said at ChiliBowl.com. “To do it three straight times is just unbelievable, but man, I don’t even care about three straight. What about that race? I don’t think I’ve ever really been a part of a last lap race like that, so I’m just glad that thing came out in the end.”

As the white flag waved on his eighth appearance in Saturday’s main event, it seemed Larson was finally going to walk away with his first Golden Driller. This was closest he’s been to the win.

Larson took the lead from Logan Seavey on Lap 21 after a five-lap hot pursuit. Bell moved into second for the first time on Lap 27 but a caution forced him back to third as the field realigned to the last completed lap.

On Lap 33, Bell passed Seavey again for second before another caution reset the field. On the next restart Bell road the rim diving to the hub in Turns 3 and 4. With Larson in sight, Bell started to think about where he was going to put his third trophy.

The final caution flag of the night waved with 20 to go to set up the Bell vs. Larson shootout fans had been waiting for since Larson retired early from the race last year. Larson pulled away on the highline in Turns 1 and 2. He switched to the low in 3 and 4.

With five laps to go Larson hit traffic. That gave Bell the opportunity to close the gap. With two to go Bell was on top of Larson and challenging for the lead. On the final lap Bell passed Larson in Turn 2 as they bumped tires. Glued together through the final pair of turns, they touched twice more before Bell pulled away on the final stretch.

The action wasn’t over, however. Bell wound up on his lid following the win. His donuts got a little out of control and he rolled his midget.

Justin Grant took third by passing Brady Bacon on Lap 36. Bacon followed for fourth with Zach Daum in tow to complete the top five.

Tyler Courtney was the hard charger of the night finishing sixth after starting in 22nd. Brad Sweet and CJ Leary finished seventh and eighth.

Seavey was able to hold onto third until late in the race but ultimately the pole sitter who led the first 20 laps faded to ninth.

Tanner Thorson rounded out the top ten.

Friday’s Main Event

1. Christopher Bell
2. Kyle Larson
3. Justin Grant
4. Brady Bacon
5. Zach Daum
6. Tyler Courtney
7. Brad Sweet
8. CJ Leary
9. Logan Seavey
10. Tanner Thorson
11. Danny Stratton
12. Jonathan Beason
13. Tucker Klaasmeyer
14. Colby Copeland
15. Rico Abreu
16. Michael Faccinto
17. Chad Boat
18. David Gravel
19. Cole Bodine
20. Robert Dalby
21. Jake Neuman
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23. Shane Golobic
24. Sean McClelland