Tyler Menninga cracks Monster Jam Power Rankings top five

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Tyler Menninga cracked the top five this week and male drivers continue to dominate the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but the ladies stole the show last weekend. Notably, all three Stadium Series featured female winners.

Becky McDonough (in El Toro Loco) won Sunday’s freestyle event in the Stadium Series Red for her second win of the season.

Cynthia Gauthier (Monster Mutt Dalmatian) won her second freestyle in the Stadium Series Yellow. Gauthier used the 8-pack backflip to clinch her win.

Meanwhile Rosalee Ramer (Wildflower) won the Stadium Series Green freestyle on Saturday with Brianna Mahon (Whiplash) winning Sunday’s freestyle. (The Miami event will be shown Sunday, March 1 at 12 a.m.; click here for streaming).

But it was Neil Elliott from the Stadium Series Green who holds onto the Power Rankings lead. With his fifth consecutive skills competition in Saturday’s show, he tied in points at the top of the order with Jimmy Creten (Bounty Hunter) and Dave Sparks, aka Heavy D (BroDozer) of Discovery Channel’s Diesel Brothers fame. All three drivers earned 34 points, but Creten was credited with the victory because he was highest in the freestyle. In the Sunday show, Elliott banked another 36 points to finish second overall.

Todd LeDuc (Monster Energy) kept his second place in the rankings this wee. The Stadium Series Red division competed at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. where LeDuc took home 34 points Saturday evening and 35 points on Sunday afternoon. LeDuc’s bicycle to stoppie move was enough to take the skills challenge by 1-1,000th of a point over Bryce Kenny (Great Clip Mohawk) on Saturday. Kenny got his revenge on Sunday by winning the skills challenge.

The Triple Threat Series Central took the week off.  Colton Eichelberger held onto third in the rankings.

Tyler Menninga won two of four ATV competitions at Allentown. Feld Entertainment Inc.

In the Triple Threat Series East, Menninga (Grave Digger) won two of four shows in Spokane Arena in Spokane, Wash. Menninga would also score a racing win, two ATV racing wins, and two of the four freestyles.

Ryan Anderson (Son-Uva Digger) climbed two spots in the ranking this week with consistency. He finished fourth overall in both the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon shows. His weekend was highlighted by a racing win over Morgan Kane (Grave Digger).

Kane earned only 15 points for the evening and fell four positions. Plagued by mechanical issues, it was Kane’s worst night of the year.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott-same
2. Todd Leduc-same
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Tyler Menninga-up 2
5. Ryan Anderson-up 3
6. Brandon Vinson-down 1
7. Tom Meents-up 3
8. Morgan Kane-down 4
9. Camden Murphy-new for 2020
10. Coty Saucier-down 3

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 8 (Sunday); 2 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.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 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.

New schedule has Josef Newgarden seeing double (points) again in 2020

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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Two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske believes the latest revised schedule for 2020 will change his approach to the season.

The new schedule has the defending IndyCar champion looking at ways to double the possibilities for a second consecutive championship.

“When I look at the whole schedule they released now, I look at it as double-points as a whole in all of them,” Newgarden told NBCSports.com Monday. “Iowa is double points on a short oval. There are double points at the Indy GP because there are two races and a road course. Then double points at Laguna, which is a different road course than IMS. And there is double points in the Indianapolis 500.”

IndyCar announced to team owners two weeks ago that the season finale (once scheduled for Laguna Seca and now at St. Petersburg) will no longer be a double-points event. But Monday’s schedule revision essentially adds three double points-style races to the Indy 500’s double-points format, Newgarden said.

“Those are four events where you have to be quite strong,” Newgarden said. “They are all very different from each other. Each one is critical to get right. Iowa has a chance to be the most difficult. From a physical standpoint, it’s already a physical track for one race. To double it up on one weekend will be quite the toll for the drivers.

“It will be a very big test physically to see who will get that weekend right. You can bag a lot of points because of it.”

Just 12 days after the first schedule revision, IndyCar officials announced another revised schedule Monday because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The new schedule features doubleheader weekends at Iowa Speedway in July and Laguna Seca in September. There is an additional race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Oct. 3.

That race will be known as the IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix. It will be the second time in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history that an IndyCar race is held in the fall. The only other time was the Harvest Auto Racing Classic, a series of three races won by Johnny Aitken on Sept. 9, 1916.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix scheduled for May 30-31 will be dropped from the 2020 schedule. Michigan has a “Stay at Home” order that won’t be lifted in time to start construction of the Belle Isle street course.

Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles said the Detroit event will return in 2021.

The IMS road course essentially will have a doubleheader spaced out by nearly three months. The first race will be the GMR IndyCar Grand Prix on July 4, and the second will be Oct. 3 in the Harvest Grand Prix.

The extra doubleheaders combined with the loss of Detroit gives IndyCar a 15-race schedule for 2020. It started out as a 17-race campaign, but April’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the Acura Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the AutoNation IndyCar Classic at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) have been canceled. The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being revived as the season finale on a TBA weekend in October.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Newgarden also is excited about the chance to run at Indianapolis for three major races in one season. Of course, that all depends on how soon IndyCar can return to action because of the global pandemic.

“I’m continually excited about the thought of getting back to the race track,” Newgarden said. “We would love to be there now, but we can’t. With the current situation, everyone is trying to do the best they can to pitch in and do their part so we can get back to the track as quickly as possible.

“I’m excited to get back to racing at some point in the future. To see that is planned to start at Texas is still great. IndyCar has done a great job staying active and fluid with the ever-changing dynamics and current situation.

“We have three opportunities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are a lot of chances to get it right at the Mecca of our sport.

“I have a lot of trust and faith in IndyCar and Roger, and they are doing their best to stay on top of the situation.”

The one downer to the revised schedule is the loss of the Detroit doubleheader, a very important weekend to Team Penske because Roger Penske also owns the Detroit race. It’s a chance to showcase the series in front of as “Motor City” crowd, which is also the home to the Penske Corp.

“It’s a shame that we miss any event this year,” Newgarden said. “As a racer, you look forward to each one of them. If any of them drop off, it’s a tough pill. Detroit is more so because it is such an important race for us at Team Penske. It’s in our backyard for Penske Corp. Also, our relationship with Chevrolet, how much they put I that event and try to get it right for everybody involved. It’s tough to not have a go at that this year.

“I think of the volunteers. The Detroit weekend is so well run and executed with such a positive momentum behind it for the last eight years that I’ve gone there. I’ve always enjoyed that weekend off the back of the Indy 500.

“It’s a shame we will miss that this year, but I look forward to getting back there in 2021 and getting it started again.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500