INDYCAR Photo by Chris Jones
INDYCAR / Chris Jones

View from the pits: IndyCar Classic at COTA

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The NTT IndyCar Series’ debut weekend at Circuit of the Americas culminates today with the 60-lap IndyCar Classic at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN, the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.

After claiming the 56th pole of his career, Will Power has set himself up for a $100,000 bonus if he wins today’s race. But his bid to cash in is just one of numerous storylines that will play out.

Following all of those storylines are IndyCar on NBCSN pit reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Kevin Lee. What’s jumped out to them this weekend? And which drivers should we be watching? Read on…

MARTY SNIDER

“I don’t recall an IndyCar race where tire degradation has been more discussed from the first practice on…and it’s fantastic! If you’ve watched F1 races from COTA in the past, buckle in…this IndyCar race will be so vastly different from what you’ve seen in the past. These Indy cars are heavier than F1 cars, they have no power steering and they are an absolute beast to wrestle with over 20 turns!”

“There are legitimately a number of cars that could win the race, there is likely to be ample passing and strategy will be massive in deciding the winner. The Ganassi cars might have the most overall speed, the Penske cars worked all day Saturday to be good on old tires, and the Andretti cars may have the best overall balance through the whole run. Bottom line…Several cars are in the mix and there’s a whole new crop of rookies who have the ability and the car to upset the favorites. Can’t wait for the green flag!”

“My pick is Alexander Rossi. I like his experience here. You can tell he’s focused this week. Privately he’ll tell you he feels as though he has unfinished business here…he finally has a shot to win at what used to be his only home country race. I think he gets it done on Sunday.”

KELLI STAVAST

“In my section of pit road is the exciting, young American Santino Ferrucci, who drives the flashy, all-chrome David Yurman-sponsored machine for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. Santino comes to COTA riding the momentum of a top-ten finish on the streets of St. Petersburg, which kicked off his rookie campaign.

“Santino is high-energy, hard-working and professional, according to his veteran teammate and former champion Sebastian Bourdais. Already a winner at COTA in the [Lamborghini] Super Trofeo series, Santino told me he loves this track, as it suits his driving style and reminds him of circuits he ran back in Europe.

“Although the team struggled a little bit with understeer through both practice sessions Friday, Ferrucci told me the car came to life in final practice Saturday, describing it as “playful.” He has already achieved one goal for the weekend: advancing to the second round of qualifying, setting up an 11th place starting spot. Now he has his sights set on staying inside the top-ten in points following the 60-lap race.”

KEVIN LEE

“In my section of pit road, in the middle, there are several interesting stories to follow. For the 2nd straight race, Simon Pagenaud didn’t have the chance to advance in qualifying because of a red flag. But Pagenaud feels he and Team Penske have solved the issues they had last season with road and street course pace and will be quick in the race. Tight pit windows will make it difficult to make up a significant amount of positions. He’ll need a timely yellow to work in his favor.

“The other story will be the teenagers that were teammates in Indy Lights last season. 18-year-old Colton Herta backed up the pace he showed at St. Pete by qualifying 4th. 19-year-old Patricio O’Ward will start 8th in his first race with Carlin Racing. Both are impressive beyond their years and are we may be witnessing the early stages of superstar careers.

“Which teams are able to manage the tire wear will determine IndyCar’s debut at COTA.”

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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