Charlie Pauken, Camden Murphy rocket up Monster Jam Rankings

Feld Entertainment Inc
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Charlie Pauken wasn’t even on the Monster Jam Power Rankings chart three weeks ago but with three consecutive wins in Texas, he rocketed to No. 3 on the list in his Grave Digger truck.

Pauken’s Arlington, Texas win on March 1 at AT&T Stadium elevated him to 10th in last week’s Power Rankings. A sweep of two Stadium Series Yellow events in El Paso, Texas at the UTEP Sun Bowl moved him into the top five. Pauken banked 37 points each night. The highlights of his weekend included his second freestyle win of the season and a second-place finish to Camden Murphy (Bakugan Draganoid) in the Sunday afternoon show.

Murphy moved up the grid with Pauken. Sitting ninth on the charts last week, Murphy swept the racing events to give him his fifth consecutive racing championship. In addition to beating Pauken on Sunday, he defeated Coty Saucier (Monster Energy) Saturday night. Murphy also took the skills championship on Sunday.

Neill Elliott (Max-D) and Todd LeDuc (Monster Energy) retained their positions at the top of the standings with the Stadium Series Red and Stadium Series Green taking the weekend off.

Elliott will get an opportunity to defend his top spot in the championship at Detroit on March 14. LeDuc will try to climb up from second March 21 at Las Vegas.

Charlie Pauken‘s second freestyle win of the season helped propel him to third in the Monster Jam Power Rankings. Feld Entertainment Inc.

Pauken’s and Murphy’s ascension meant Ryan Anderson (Son-Uva Digger) fell two spots to fifth.

Brandon Vinson (Grave Digger) was another casualty of Pauken and Murphy. He fell three spots this week to eighth, but it was not for a lack of power. Vinson swept all four shows at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. with session wins in the racing competition, two-wheel skills, the donut competition, speedster obstacle course and freestyle.

At Raleigh, N.C. Tyler Menninga wrapped up his fourth series championship in the Triple Threat East with a pair of event wins.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–same
3. Charlie Pauken–up 7
4. Camden Murphy–up 5
5. Ryan Anderson–down 2
6. Colton Eichelberger–down 2
7. Tom Meents–same
8. Brandon Vinson–down 3
9. Morgan Kane–down 3
10. Tyler Menninga–down 2

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

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 Finals Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.