The 2020 AMA Monster Energy Supercross schedule has been released, featuring a new venue for the finale and a return to some favorite markets.
Replacing Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas as the season-ender, Supercross will visit Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 2 for the 17th and final round. Las Vegas has hosted the final race for the past 23 seasons.
The season kicks off on January 4, 2020 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. just as it did in 2019 when Justin Barcia bested the field in this year’s rain-soaked opener.
From there, the Supercross riders will head to the St. Louis, Mo. and the Dome at America’s Center before returning to the West Coast with their second visit of the season to Anaheim. That will be followed by stops in Glendale, Ariz., Oakland and San Diego.
St Louis (along with Tampa and Massachusetts) is one of three markets that return in 2020 as Supercross rotates their schedule.
“Our goal is the continued growth of the sport and rotating markets every couple of years, expanding Supercross Futures events and moving the finale to a new location helps keep the series fresh and exciting for the fans, as well as for the race teams and athletes,” said Todd Jendro, Vice President of Operations – Motorsports, Feld Entertainment in a press release. “Utah has become synonymous with elite, world class sporting events and we thought hosting the finale in Salt Lake City would be a fitting choice.”
The Supercross riders will cross the continent to Tampa, Fla. and Raymond James Stadium following the West Coast swing as that venue is another of the returning favorites.
Highlighting the schedule, Supercross will once again visit Broncos Stadium at Mile High for the second consecutive season. Eli Tomac thrilled the hometown fans with a victory there in 2019.
The remainder of the schedule highlights venues that hosted races in 2019, plus the return of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass – which replaces New Jersey’s Met Life Stadium as the annual Northeastern race.
The 2020 Supercross schedule remains one of the most grueling in professional sports with 17 venues in all four corners of the country being contested in 18 weeks.
“Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, is where the best riders in the world battle for the ‘number one’ plate,” said Jorge Viegas, FIM President. “It is a demanding and intense series of 17 events in just 18 weeks. Demanding for the riders and teams, yet exciting for the fans worldwide who cannot wait to see their heroes enter the stadium and challenge the track. Last season we saw the ‘outsider’ Cooper Webb win the Championship in style beating the likes of Tomac, (Marvin) Musquin, (Ken) Roczen and (Jason) Anderson. Only time will tell if he can do it again in 2020.”
Newgarden, Rossi ready for a red-white-and-blue INDYCAR finale
MONTEREY, California – In an international series that personifies diversity from all over the globe, the two main combatants in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship are from the United States.
Josef Newgarden of Tennessee takes a 41-point lead over Alexander Rossi of Northern California into Sunday’s double-points season finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca. This year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud of France, is just 42 points out of the lead.
It’s been quite a while since the two drivers entering the final race of the season were both Americans. Four of the top 10 drivers in the series are from the United States. Last year, five of the top 10 were from the USA.
All but one race in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series schedule is contested in the United States.
Patriotism still matters in IndyCar.
“I think so,” said Andretti Autosport driver Rossi, who is the last American driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. “I know I’ve read a lot of things from other drivers saying, ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s not important, no one cares.’
“I can’t really get onboard with that.
“I think me as an American, growing up, being a fan of the Olympics and everything, like you cheer for Americans, right? That’s what you do as a patriotic person. Canadians cheer for James. We see the Swedish contingent that comes to the races for Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist.
“I think Americans will cheer for Americans. I would love to see an American to win the championship. I think it’s important for the young kids watching hoping to be IndyCar drivers one day, that they see someone who grew up in Tennessee or California or wherever. It’s like, there’s a lot of relate-ability to that for a young kid with aspirations of being a racecar driver.”
Since Sam Hornish, Jr. won the final of his three IndyCar Series championships in 2006, just two American drivers have won the title – Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012 and Newgarden in 2017. During that span, Scott Dixon of New Zealand won four of his five NTT IndyCar Series championships and Dario Franchitti of Scotland won all four of his IndyCar titles.
The last time two Americans had a chance to win the championship in the final race of the season came in 2001 when Hornish won the championship over Colorado’s Buddy Lazier. Connecticut’s Scott Sharp was third and Arizona’s Billy Boat was fourth in the final standings that year.
That was a much different time and place for IndyCar. At that time, many of the top drivers were in CART while the old Indy Racing League featured a predominantly American lineup. Once unification brought the two sides together in 2008, the championships have been fought on American soil, but international drivers were victorious.
The last time two American drivers finished 1-2 in CART was 1996 when Jimmy Vasser of California defeated Pennsylvania’s Michael Andretti for the crown. In 1992, Bobby Rahal of Illinois defeated Andretti and Al Unser, Jr. of New Mexico for the CART title.
Prior to that, the IndyCar “National Championship” was dominated by drivers from the United States.
“For me, it’s never been something I put a lot of emphasis on,” said the Team Penske driver. “I’m proud to have grown up in such a wonderful country as the United States, but what I’ve always loved about the IndyCar Series is that they bring the best of the best from around the world. That’s always been important to me.
“It means more I think when you have the best from all over the place coming to compete at the Indianapolis 500, during the whole championship. You really feel like you have that in the IndyCar Series. You get the best drivers from around the world.
“To pair with that, I think we need strong Americans running, as well. So for sure, having guys like Alex and Graham Rahal, some young guys coming up like Colton Herta, myself, it’s really great to have young American competition representing as well and running so strongly.
“What I’ve always loved is the great mix of talent from around the world. To me that’s just so important. If it was all Americans running in the championship, I don’t think it would mean as much. I like that we have that great diversity and that great mix from around the world.”
Although these two drivers are both from the USA, they are fierce rivals. They have mutual respect for each other, but they sure aren’t considered close friends.
“Josef and I honestly aren’t that close,” Rossi admitted. “He never lived in Indy when I moved here, or he was just moving. I actually never really hung out with Josef.
“We obviously have a lot of respect for each other. We raced together for a short period of time in Europe. We have a lot of mutual friends.
“Josef and I don’t talk or socialize really. So, it doesn’t have any impact.”
Newgarden agrees that these two men choose to embrace the rivalry.
“I think it’s just really business,” Newgarden said. “He lives in Indianapolis. I live in Nashville. I don’t see him too often outside of the racetrack. We go and we compete. He’s a great competitor. He’s definitely a tremendous talent, has done a great job in his career.
“It’s been a good, competitive relationship I would say.”
With the return of American drivers capable of winning races, championships and Indianapolis 500s, it has sparked a rejuvenation in IndyCar racing. With drivers from all over the world fighting it out for glory, this series that was born and bred in the United States can take pride in featuring some of the best racing in the world as the series continues to grow in popularity.
“I think we just need to continue a focus on our product,” Rossi said. “I think we have the best race product on the planet in terms of entertainment, the variance of winners that we have throughout a season, how many guys are capable, teams are capable of winning races.
“But that’s an ever-moving target. I think IndyCar has done a good job of placing the priority on that. I just think we need to continue doing that and everything will be moving in the right direction.”