Wine and Speed

We crown the INDYCAR champion this upcoming weekend at Sonoma Raceway in the middle of wine country, as we’ve done since 2015. In 2017, coming into the finale it was the Penske Boys versus themselves and Scott Dixon. Josef Newgarden came into the race the points leader, and [SPOILER ALERT] would leave the 2017 race as the INDYCAR Champion.

To be plain, the 2017 race was somewhat of a quiet race. We had no full course cautions and only two local yellows the whole race. Josef started from the pole and he and Simon Pagenaud led the lions share of the laps. Simon actually had the better race and ultimately won. At one point Simon and Josef were racing each other hard for the lead. Sure winning each race is great, but at what point does Tim Cindric get into Josef’s ear and go “you are going to win the Championship, maybe you calm tf down”. It was also Zachary Claman De Melo’s maiden race last year, and it’s interesting to see how far he’s come in one season (he finished the race in 13th position after starting 21st). The race ended with Simon Pagenaud winning the race, but Josef Newgarden winning the championship because, as happens, the winner of the race is overshadowed by the winner of the championship.

This year the big storyline is the championship. Twenty-nine points separate Scott Dixon (1st) from Alexander Rossi (2nd). With Sonoma being a double-point race, these are the drivers that everyone will be focused on. The gap between second and thorth (Josef Newgarden and Will Power are tied) is fifty-eight points.  It’s unfortunate that the championship always overshadows the race, however that’s always how it is here at the end of the season. Aside from that, the only things of interest is the sudden uptick of discussion surrounding who is going where next season.

What will I be watching? It’s the championship, I’m wanting Rossi to get the championship. I also think Zach Veach is continuing to climb this year and he’s going to push to end the season on a high note. So, I think, will James Hinchcliffe. Robert Wickens won the Rookie of the Year, and James is still working on some issues with his hands, but don’t count him out. I don’t know, call it a gut feeling, but I think he’s going to do something impressive.

Next year, the series packs up and moves the championship about one-hundred and fifty miles south to Laguna Seca.

Who do you think will win the race – and who will win the championship? Let me know in the comments below!

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