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Neil Elliott ascends to top of Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Stadium Series Green is packed with talent, accounting for three positions in the Monster Jam Power Rankings. Ryan Anderson recorded one of the most difficult combinations in the freestyle competition and advanced to eighth. Morgan Kane held onto a top-two spot on the chart. But it was Neil Elliott in the Max-D monster truck that ran away with the lead.

With 37 points earned, Elliott tied Anderson and Son-Uva Digger for the most at Anaheim last week, which was just enough to give him the No. 1 ranking this week. Elliott won the racing portion of the night over Megalodon and Cory Rummell. It was the first time for both drivers that they reached the final round.

The racing victory gave Elliott the confidence needed to win his fifth skills challenge of the year. And so far, he’s been nearly perfect in that session. Elliott failed to win the skills challenge only once in 2020.

More importantly, Elliott took the points lead in the series with 206 to Kane’s 200.

Kane and Grave Digger had a comparatively bad evening. He was unable to stage his truck for Round 2 in the racing competition and earned minimal points for the session. When the points were tallied at the end of the night, he was 10 below Elliott and Anderson.

Colton Eichelberger held onto the third spot in the rankings with a nearly perfect weekend in another Max-D truck. In the Triple Threat Central division, he scored the most event points in three of four races with 43 of 44 pocketed Saturday afternoon. Eichelberger won three of the four racing competitions at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena in addition to winning eight additional competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run
MORE: Adam Anderson and Grave Digger are a family affair for Monster Jam

Stadium Series Red’s Todd Leduc had the biggest gain of the week. He advanced three positions to land fourth in the Power Rankings. To see exactly how he accomplished the feat tune into the Indianapolis event, which airs Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming).

Leduc advanced with consistency and excellence. Earning 35 points and taking the overall win Saturday evening, he returned Sunday to put another 33 in the bank. That placed second to Cole Venard and Black Pearl for the afternoon and tied him with Monster Energy’s Linsey Weenk. Venard did not make the Power Rankings, but he had one of the sickest moves of the week when his pirate-themed truck walked the plank (backflipping to walking a wheelie across the stadium floor).

Coty Saucier rounds out the top five with a racing win Sunday afternoon in Houston and a second-place finish Saturday evening in Stadium Series Yellow.

Also of note this week was freestyle run of Ryan Anderson. In the Son-Uva Digger truck in Stadium Series Green, Anderson earned 9.619 in the freestyle competition – his best score to date. It is his third freestyle win of the season.

Power Rankings

1 – Neil Elliott–up 1
2 – Morgan Kane–down 1
3 – Colton Eichelberger–same
4 – Todd LeDuc–up 3
5 – Coty Saucier–same
6 – Brandon Vinson–up 2
7 – Tyler Menninga–down 1
8 – Ryan Anderson–up 1
9 – Justin Sipes–returning
10 – Linsey Read–new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on NBCSN)

Indianapolis: February 18 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.

Inside IndyCar’s iRacing revolution: Oliver Askew, team take it seriously

SimMetric Labs
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No laps have been turned in the NTT IndyCar Series this season, yet rookie Oliver Askew incessantly is analyzing fresh lap data with his Arrow McLaren SP team.

For the past two weeks, Askew has turned hundreds of laps in iRacing at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park, and his support team meticulously has scoured the data in real time.

Race engineer Blair Perschbacher, assistant engineer Mike Reggio and strategist Billy Vincent are connected via all the software and timing systems that are on Askew’s real-world No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet. After every run, numbers instantly are crunched, and Askew debriefs with his crew on improving the handling of his car in search of every fraction of a second as he would in real life.

WATCH: IndyCar iRacing Challenge, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN or streaming here

The only difference is Askew is sitting inside a simulation rig housed by a 45-foot trailer in West Palm Beach, Fla., while each team member is in an Indianapolis area home.

“They basically set up their own timing stands in their living rooms,” Askew told NBCSports.com. “It’s awesome.”

It’s the new reality for IndyCar, which will play host to the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSN) at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Last Saturday, Askew started and finished fifth at Watkins Glen International, where he practiced with the advisement of his team for more than 15 hours in the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs simulator. Despite a relative sim racing newbie, Askew, 23, finished only two spots behind Will Power, who has more than 1,500 starts and 150 victories on iRacing road courses.

Askew already has practiced for more than 10 hours this week in his simulator for Barber, where he hopes to make the podium against a 29-driver field that will include many champions and winners.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “You can tell by the results at Watkins Glen. You know which drivers have built their sims properly. How much they’ve been practicing. Those are the guys who finish up front.

“I’m still trying to represent everyone. It’s cool we have the same paint scheme. We’re just trying to represent Arrow and our partners the best as possible. We know they’re all watching, and it seems the viewership is going up.”


The Jupiter, Florida, native has found an edge through his friendship with SimMetric Driver Performance Labs, which is based in nearby West Palm Beach, Florida. Askew and SimMetric CEO Greg De Giorgis met last year through mutual friends. Last year, Askew had done a few simulator sessions before winning the 2019 Indy Lights championship (and graduating to the ride with Arrow McLaren SP).

With an official simulator partnership in the Road to Indy program, SimMetric’s simulator travels in a trailer to racing events around the country, providing drivers with extra preparation time for the real world.

“While time in a driving simulator will never fully replace real seat time, sim seat time can go a very long way in supplementing the seat time a driver gets,” De Giorgis told NBCSports.com in an email. “With three added benefits you don’t get in the real car: Significantly lower cost per hour, no risk of bodily harm or damage to the car, and of course, no limitations on time.”

There are some limitations for how much Askew can practice, though. A schedule was set up last week so the team, Askew and De Giorgis (who helps run the simulator and maintain communications with the team) could work together while also maintaining self-isolation with their families.

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The trailer with the simulator is parked indoors at the Riviera Beach, Florida, shop of Extreme Velocity Motorsports, which also has an unofficial affiliation with SimMetric.

“We’re practicing social distancing and making sure the trailer and everything is clean,” Askew said. “We’re taking that very seriously. It’s still a job for me, so I need to get what I can out of it.”

He’s gotten a lot from it despite a lack of experience. The team can compare simulation data from iRacing to real-world historical data from past races and test sessions.

Reggio handles fuel data, and Simpson monitors strategy and timing. While setups are fixed for the iRacing IndyCar Challenge, Perschbacher is able to work with brake bias. “He’s just trying to bend the rules as much as we can,” Askew said. “We’ve done a lot with brake bias. That’s pretty much all we can change.”

Fans also can watch Askew practicing via a YouTube channel provided by De Giorgis, who has chatted with viewers about the car’s laps in real time during the streams that are available by clicking here.

Fans will be able to find a live stream of Askew’s race Saturday by clicking here.


It’s all relatively new to Askew, who doesn’t even have a sim rig at his Indianapolis home. His previous sim experience mainly came on the Chevrolet simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina.

“Honesty, for me personally, I’m a little late to the party,” Askew said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. I’m young and they assumed I’ve been doing this. I’ve never even had my own iRacing account before. Guys like (McLaren driver) Lando Norris, (Watkins Glen winner) Sage (Karam), all these guys have been streaming live on Twitch and have been running iRacing for multiple years now.

“ It’s a great way to get fans engaged in the race weekend and get eSports get bigger and bigger every year. Very interesting moving forward. It’s cool that IndyCar has dipped their feet into these waters now. Even once the season starts, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do more of these races.”

If so, he and his team have learned to keep an eye on Power, a real-world ace on road courses. During some practice races Thursday, Askew thought he’d done well by qualifying third, but Power then put a half-second on the field by winning the pole position.

“Will is unbelievably quick and does the same things in real life as well,” said Askew, who did turn the fastest lap in the practice race. “He just pulls it out somehow. That’s where the engineers and our staff in Indy come into play because they’re able to watch his on-board in real time and replay his on board to figure out what he’s doing to get the most of out of his car in the video game.

“It gets the creative juices flowing again. It’s still very different from real life, but I think we’re going to be able to start the season a little more fresh than we would have without this.”

Chris Graythen / Getty Images