IndyCar

Okay race fans, who’ve ‘ya got: Vote for who wins IndyCar championship

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The day that Verizon IndyCar Series teams, drivers and fans have waited almost all year for is finally at hand today.

When the season-ending and championship-winning Grand Prix of Sonoma finally comes to an end after 85 laps and roughly two hours of time, one driver is going to be declared the 2018 season champion.

Scott Dixon is going for his fifth career IndyCar crown, his first since winning in 2015 in one of the biggest upsets in series history, rallying from nearly 50 points back to win the race, overtake points leader Juan Pablo Montoya and capture the championship by a slim margin.

But Dixon has three other main contenders — and 21 non-contenders — to worry about today.

There’s Alexander Rossi, the surprise 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner who has really had a breakout season and has become a true American champion-in-waiting.

And while they’re both a distant 87 points behind Dixon, this year’s Indy 500 winner, Will Power, and defending IndyCar series champ Josef Newgarden, are still mathematically in the championship race until they’re eliminated — or pull one of the greatest upsets ever seen in IndyCar history.

But enough about what’s on the table. Let’s give you fans the main course. Who are YOU picking to win this year’s IndyCar championship?

Have at it:

Dean Wilson’s life as a privateer reconnects the rider to his roots

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One of the added benefits of subscribing to NBC Sports Gold is the in-depth interviews from each Saturday’s action. Last week between the first and second rounds of qualification for the Glendale Supercross race, a relaxed and confident Dean Wilson joined Race Day Live’s Daniel Blair and Jim Holley to review his fourth-place finish in the season opener and his mindset moving forward.

Losing factory support from Rockstar / Husqvarna at the end of 2018 was not exactly what Wilson had in mind, but after getting off to a great start in the first two races this season, it may well have been a blessing in disguise.

The life of a privateer is not exactly relaxed, but it affords a rider the opportunity to call his own shots. For Wilson, it is also a way to reconnect with the grassroots feel that attracted him to Supercross in the first place.

“I think that’s what I like,” Wilson said on Race Day Live. “I think that’s the environment and atmosphere I like – it’s just more low key. At Anaheim I, you would think I was local racing at Glen Helen. I had a Sprinter and I had another trailer just to chill in, do my spins. It was so cold I had a little propane heater to warm me up. But I like that. That’s what works for me.”

MORE: Dean Wilson’s Cinderella story at Anaheim 

The program Wilson was able to put together during the offseason produced back-to back top 10s – a much better start to the 2019 season than he experienced last year.

In 2018, Wilson did not score a top 10 until his fourth feature at San Diego. His first top five would not come until late March in Indianapolis.

This year Wilson got the hole shot and led 14 laps at Anaheim in the opener before finishing fourth. Last week in Glendale, he finished eighth.

“What was going through my head was ‘it’s about time; it’s about five years too late to lead some laps here,’ ” Wilson described his emotion as he led at Anaheim. “It was nice because I did a lot of work in the off-season and my starts were really good. The thing is I haven’t over-analyzed my starts and practice.”

At Anaheim I, Wilson struggled with visibility as his goggles began to get fouled by mud. A once comfortable lead was eroded by Justin Barcia. With pressure from behind, Wilson made a minor mistake that was then compounded by lapped traffic.

“I was leading my laps; I was just trying to hit my marks. I was doing really well until I made a couple of mistakes. I couldn’t hit that middle double, double … the rut was getting real chewed out, but I was already on the right side where you couldn’t double the middle part so you had to go roll, roll, roll – and Barcia was already on me.”

Wilson’s pair of top 10s was enough to keep him fifth in the standings, three points behind Glendale’s winner Blake Baggett.

For more, watch the video above.

Next Race: Anaheim II Jan. 19, 11 p.m., NBCSN

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