(INDYCAR)—Eighth equaled first for Josef Newgarden on the Laguna Seca road course in California as IndyCar became the first of the three major racing series to crown a champion for the year. It’s his second series championship. He also won the title in 2017.
Newgarden entered the race with a strong points lead and his eighth-place finish was good enough. He needed a fourth-place regardless of what his competitors did but none of them ran well enough to overtake him. Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud was fourth in the race and second in points. Alexander Rossi was sixth and slipped from second to third in the points.
The race winner, Brian Herta, established himself as the leader of a group of rookies representing the future of IndyCar. Herta, who quickly noted that he is too young to fully celebrate his victory (he’s nineteen), picked up his second win of the year after starting with his third pole. Despite that record, he finished the season five points behind Swedish driver Felix Rosenqvist in the Rookie of the Year standings. Rosenqvist is 27. A third rookie who made a strong showing in his first year in IndyCar, Santino Ferrucci, crashed into Takuma Sato on a restart, takng both cars out of contention. Ferrucci called it “the only mistake I made all year.”
Herta (right) led 83 of the 90 laps on the 2.258, eleven-turn road course. “It was a perfect race,” he said afterwards. “Whenever you win an IndyCar race, it has to be a perfect race. You can’t really make mistakes and get away with it, just because there’s always two or three other guys on that day that can win.”
(NASCAR)—Martin Truex Jr., has established himself as the driver to be reckoned with in NASCAR’s ten-race run off for its championship by winning the first two races. His win at Richmond Saturday night came despite a spin while leading 84 laps from the end.
Truex’s car was tapped by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., whose car slid up the track on a turn, but he managed to keep his car off the wall. Teammate Kyle Busch jumped on his brakes to avoid hitting Truex then assumed the lead. Truex caught Busch with twenty-six laps left and led a four-car sweep of Joe Gibbs racing entries across the finish line. Busch finished second with Denny Hamlin third and the fourth JGR car driven by Erik Jones, fourth.
Truex has clinched a spot in the next round of playoffs with his two wins. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are guaranteed slots among in the round of twelve because of points.
Clint Bowyer’s chances of reaching the next round improved, thanks to his ninth-place finish. He entered the race fifteenth in points, twenty-one points out of twelfth. Heading into the final race of the first round, he is still fifteenth but only five points behind William Byron, who holds the twelfth position in points. Five drivers will scramble for the last two slots in the next round. Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Byron, and Jones are within ten points of tenth place. Kurt Busch, whose bad racing luck has left him sixteenth, is likely to need a win to make the second round.
The final race in the first round is particularly challenging—the “roval” at Charlotte, the road course built inside the Charlotte Motor Speedway and first used last year.
(FORMULA 1)—Ferrari has swept the top to places in the Grand Prix of Singapore, with Sebastian Vettel getting his first victory since the Grand Prix of Belgium 392 days ago. Charles Leclerc finished second in another Ferrari, giving the marque its first 1-2 finish since 2008. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed the other podium spot.
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas could do no better than fourth and fifth, as the first five drivers crossed the line within 6.1 seconds of each other.
The five drivers occupy the top five spots in the F1 standings, with Hamilton and Bottas standing 1-2, Leclerc third, Verstappen fourth, and Vettel fifth.
Formula 1 runs the Grand Prix of Russia at the Sochi Autodrome next weekend, one of seven races left in the 2019 season.
(Photo credits: Newgarden and Herta: Bob Priddy; Truex spin—NBC Sports/NASCAR; Bowyer—Torrey Fox, NASCAR digital media)