Photo by Bruce Martin
Photo by Bruce Martin

COTA announces $100,000 ‘Win from the Pole’ IndyCar Bonus

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AUSTIN, Texas – If an NTT IndyCar Series driver wins Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas from the pole, he will collect an additional $100,000. That bonus was announced Thursday as teams set up for this weekend’s inaugural IndyCar Series race at COTA, the home of the Formula One United States Grand Prix.

“That will buy a nice bottle of wine,” Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe quipped.

It actually might buy a very nice wine cellar.

The bonus was announced by Rick Abbott, Executive Vice President of COTA.

“We wanted to make this race very special to distinguish ourselves from everybody else,” Abbott said. “It’s always bigger in Texas, and we wanted to do something different and very cool to make qualifying more exciting. If you win the pole on Saturday and win the race, a driver will win an extra $100,000.

“That’s a ‘Welcome to Austin’ with a little extra incentive for you guys.

“Circuit of the Americas is one of the most challenging tracks in the world, and we have the best drivers in the world. This race will be incredibly difficult to win, and it will be exciting to see these drivers navigate this course.”

A collection of some of the NTT IndyCar Series top drivers were at the announcement.

“That’s very generous,” Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi said. “Obviously, we have a huge incentive to do that as it is. This makes it very exciting and I’m sure some guys will commit to it very heavily to make it happen.

“This has been a long-time coming for IndyCar to race at Circuits of the Americas and to be in Austin, one of my favorite cities in the United States.”

Qualifying is set for 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, March 23 with the race scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Sunday. Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for NBCSN alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee, Jon Beekhuis and Robin Miller.

The extra money available for the pole winner is an extra incentive that can help set this race apart from the other events on the schedule. In the past, large bonuses were paid to the pole winner of the Indianapolis 500.

“It’s a pretty long lap in an IndyCar, but hopefully, there will be lots of room to pass,” said former Formula One driver Max Chilton. “It’s also great that an English band, Muse, will be playing on Saturday night.”

When asked if he would be attending the concert, Chilton quipped, “That all depends on how well we do on Saturday.”

One of Rossi’s teammates, Marco Andretti, believes the 20-turn, 3.41-mile race course already is one of the most challenging tracks on the schedule. It’s also the only track that hosts both IndyCar and Formula One on the same layout.

“It’s not necessarily a Marco Andretti track because it rewards smoothness, so I’m going to have to work on my style,” Andretti said. “There are a lot of different ways to drive this track fast and a lot of places where you can screw it up as well.”

Winning from the pole happened in six of the 17 IndyCar Series races in 2018. Rossi won from the pole at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio, Newgarden won from the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and Road America, Power won from the pole in the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Ryan Hunter-Reay won from the No. 1 starting position at Sonoma.

In the seven F1 races at COTA, Lewis Hamilton has won from the pole three times.

Dean Wilson out for rest of Supercross season

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“Such a massive gut punch on Saturday,” Dean Wilson wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye.”

With that post, Wilson announced that he will be out for the remainder of the Supercross season, which includes races at East Rutherford, N.J. and Las Vegas, Nev. An MRI earlier in the week revealed a shoulder injury. He also sustained damage to his kidney in a Lap 8 accident while he was running in the top 10.

Wilson’s injuries will not require surgery.

Wilson’s season began with a lot of promise. Earning the holeshot in the season-opening race at Anaheim, Wilson led for a time before narrowly missing the podium in fourth.

Two weeks later, Wilson finished fifth overall in the Triple Crown event of Anaheim II. Those are his only top-fives of the season.

“The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year,” Wilson continued.

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Such a massive gut punch on Saturday. Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye. Started off Denver topping free practice then went on to qualify P1 in qualifier 1. Qualifier 2 didn’t get the cleanest laps but ended with a 4th. On to the main event I was running around 7th on lap 7 moving forward and as I came around for the rhythm section I tripled in and something freak happened causing the bike to nose dive after I tripled in and pile driving me into the ground. The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year. It’s tough just hoping to have a ride each year. 2nd part is people saying “wilson’s hurt again, big surprise there” when it was something that wasn’t my fault. It’s a tough pill To swallow.. I injured my shoulder and got a contusion on my kidneys. Got MRI and good news is I dodged a bullet on my shoulder and I am just going to give it a few weeks of rest and therapy and see where we are at. Huge disappointment to end my SX season like this. Thanks to my whole team for everything and everybody checking in on me. I really appreciate it. I will be back.

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Next Race: East Rutherford April. 27, on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Gold

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