Thursday, 12 October 2017

2018 Calendar Explained

2018 INDYCAR schedule builds on consistency, adds Portland event.

• Sixteen races return from this year's schedule, most retaining same slot
• Phoenix Raceway event reverts to preferred first weekend in April
• Important Pacific Northwest market re-entered with return to Portland International Raceway
The above sums up the highlights in the 2018 calendar announced today by IndyCar.
Consistency and stability, plus the return of a favored track in the Pacific Northwest, highlight INDYCAR's announcement of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule that again contains 17 races.
Sixteen of the 17 races from this year's exciting and momentum-building season return in 2018, with most falling in the same spot on the calendar to further capitalize on their date equity. The newcomer to next year's schedule is Portland International Raceway, which hosted Indy car races under CART and Champ Car sanction from 1984-2007, including what is still the closest race finish in Indy car history on a road or street course. The Portland event is set for Labor Day weekend in 2018.
The 2018 season will feature the highly anticipated introduction of universal aero kits to be used by all teams. The new kits offer a car look more sleek, bold and reminiscent of favorite Indy cars of the past. The aerodynamics involved are expected to make the already intense competition even stronger by allowing cars to run closer together and provide more passing opportunities.
"The strength and consistency of the Verizon IndyCar Series' 2018 schedule is something all of us should be proud of," said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series. "We're also looking forward to continuing the upward trend of the series through the introduction of the universal aero kits, which testing has shown to be an exciting product."
Indicative of its status as the most diverse and demanding racing series, the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule features a virtual even mix of road courses, street courses and ovals. Five temporary street-course races will be held, starting with the season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11. Six races will be conducted on permanent road courses, including iconic tracks such as Road America and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Sept. 16 season finale at Sonoma Raceway.
Befitting the hundred-year history and tradition of Indy car racing, six oval tracks are on the schedule. Three are short ovals, including the last race using the original start/finish line at Phoenix Raceway on April 7. Three will be held on superspeedways, including the centerpiece of the schedule, the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27.
For the eighth consecutive year, the 2018 season kicks off in St. Petersburg, Florida, on the 1.8-mile temporary circuit set up on city streets and a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. The Gulf Coast city has hosted Indy cars continuously since 2005 and provides the perfect warm-weather backdrop to usher in the new season.
Phoenix Raceway, which will be rebranded ISM Raceway in 2018, is the second stop on the schedule, returning to the first weekend in April after vacating that date this year to not conflict with the NCAA men's basketball Final Four taking place in nearby Glendale, Arizona. The 1.022-mile oval that has hosted 63 Indy cars races dating to 1964 is undergoing a $178 million renovation that will see the start/finish line moved to the Turn 2 dogleg area following the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series race.
"We're thrilled that the Verizon IndyCar Series Phoenix Grand Prix will return to April 6 and 7 under the lights," said Bryan Sperber, Phoenix Raceway president. "Our race fans will be treated to the stars of the IndyCar Series racing at record speed at Phoenix at a time of year that delivers chamber of commerce weather."
The Portland International Raceway event is set for Aug. 31-Sept. 2 on the 1.967-mile permanent road course and will be operated by Green Savoree Racing Promotions, which also promotes the Verizon IndyCar Series events at St. Petersburg, Toronto and Mid-Ohio. The return to Portland takes INDYCAR back to an important market rich with race fans and sets up a West Coast swing to finish the season, with the Portland event followed by the Sonoma finale.
"INDYCAR couldn't be more excited to again race in front of one of our strongest fan bases," Miles said. "Portland International Raceway has produced thrilling road racing throughout Indy car history - the 1997 finish still stands as the record for the closest finish on a road or street course - and the timing of our return couldn't be better given the bold new look our cars will have in 2018. We expect this will be a show fans won't want to miss."
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he attended the Indianapolis 500 as a young man and is excited to see the sport come back to his city.
"INDYCAR racing brings excitement and thrills to a city and to race spectators," Wheeler said. "The return of INDYCAR racing to Portland will give us terrific international exposure, a great deal of revenue, new jobs and an exciting experience for race fans" 
Other schedule highlights include:
  • Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach: The race on April 15 will mark the 35th consecutive year for Indy cars on the iconic Southern California street course, the longest-running relationship for any event on the schedule outside the Indianapolis 500;
  • Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear: The event at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park returns as the only doubleheader race weekend on the schedule, June 2-3;
  • KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America: In what has become a wildly popular event with fans since rejoining the schedule last year, the 2018 race is set for June 24;
  • Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park: On the heels of a virtual sellout crowd in INDYCAR's return to the 1.25-mile oval this year after more than a decade away, excitement is already brewing in the St. Louis region for the 2018 race on Aug. 25.
Official track activities for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season begin with two days of open testing at Phoenix Raceway on Feb. 9-10.

Source IndyCar Media.

Photo David Turner Collection.

First look 2018 Race Calendar.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Looking to 2018

Where will they be in IndyCar in 2018.

Now that the dust has started to settle from the 2017 season the question remains who will be where in 2018.
In  a brief look and a stab at it this is kinda where we see things as they stand now and it includes the chances of new full time teams as well.
So based on the current intel heres a look at a likely car and team count.

4: Andretti Autosport (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach) Pretty much all out in the open a while ago and back with the Honda engine still as well. Add in Stefan Wilson for the 500 as well and well required for all he let go in 2017.

3: Team Penske (Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power) Then Helio in for the 102nd running of the 500 and JPM now not in the mix for a five car deal at Indy.

2: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato) now all official 

2: Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, TBD) down from 4 to 2 and bet you bottom dollar Chip will be chasing hard on a title and a 500 in 2018 thats for sure. Who will get to be in the 10 car don't rule out ex WEC Porsche driver and LeMan 2017 winner and World Champ for Porsche kiwi Brendon Hartley -- making CGR an all kit line up. However I do think there is more to go here yet and this would be one of the most prized seats around so expect it to drag out a little more just yet.

2: Dale Coyne Racing (Sebastien Bourdais, TBD) This one normally is pretty close to St Pete before its known and it will need a driver with funds

2: Ed Carpenter Racing (Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter/TBD) a great seat to have and newgarden can say that more than anyone so expect Ed to be talent spotting but then again equally a need to pay bills so a pay driver or as he mentioned recently one for the longer term

2: A.J. Foyt Racing (Tony Kanaan, TBD) Will either of last seasons drivers return one would think so but which one Daly or Munoz thats the very big question.

2: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (TBD, TBD) One would have to expect Hinch to be back but then again maybe the number 10 at CGR might suit him or Chip thats a tough one and as for the other driver that again could be a little way from becoming known.

1: Harding Racing (Gabby Chaves) the first of the new teams and after a great showing at Indy they are a very welcome addition to the line up.

1: Juncos Racing: (TBD) Another of the possible new teams and many will want this seat and they will want someone that knows the game I feel.

1: Carlin Racing (TBD) if  this does happen one would have to say Chilton is the likely person for the seat.

So where does that leave drivers from 2017 such as Kimball , Jones, Hildebrand, Gutierrez,  Harvey , Mann,Karam, Vautier and Saavedra for 2018 hmm one can only guess right now and while the 500 will be very appealing you can be certain all of the above alone what full time drives in 2018 first and foremost.

So in many ways the puzzle of 2018 has only just began its a case of watch that space. Maybe Dario has it all inside this book.

Don't forget Christmas is fast approaching so check these out at Amazon.

Photos supplied by Lyn Davy Media and the David Turner collection from the Sonoma IndyCar event in 2017.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Championship at Sonoma

The chase for the 2017 Indy Car Championship.

It all comes down to the final race – again. Saturday in Sonoma saw Verizon Indy Car Series points leader Josef Newgarden withstand constant pressure from his nearest championship competitors, setting a track record to win the Verizon P1 Award in GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma qualifying.

Newgarden earned his first pole of the season and second of his six-year career with a scintillating last lap of 1 minute, 15.5205 seconds (113.691 mph) on Sonoma Raceway's 2.385-mile, 12-turn permanent road course. The championship bonus point Newgarden collected for winning the pole stretched his advantage to four points over Scott Dixon heading into Sunday's season finale that offers double race points.
It set up the dramatic run for the pole. Newgarden - the only Team Penske driver to use a new set of the Firestone alternate tires in the first round - was quickest in the Firestone Fast Six with another lap record completed on a used set of red-sidewall alternates despite his teammates each having a new set of the softer alternates at their disposal.
"We were behind the eight ball there, for sure, after the first round," Newgarden said. "We made the best decision we could as a group. There was no way we couldn't run the reds (in first-round qualifying) because we just had no idea what people were going to run.

For Dixon he scrapped though the first round of qualifying at a track where the Chevy aero kit seems to have the upper hand over the Honda set up. He did make it to the final section in qualifying the fast six, which was a positive sign apart from the gang of Penske drivers up front "The car was kind of decent to drive, but just couldn't carry the speed through the corners," said Dixon, seeking his fifth Verizon Indy Car Series championship. A win Sunday would accomplish the feat.
"Good to make it through to where we did," Dixon added. "It was definitely hard work, a big credit to the team. Sixth position, you can definitely make lots happen from there. I think in '15 we started ninth when we won that race (and the championship). Definitely you'd want to be a little further up, but that's the way it goes."
The starting order for the race and the grid for the last race of the championship season looked like this and with that the die was set for the one race shoot out for the championship title.

1. (2) Josef Newgarden,                                     Chevrolet,                  01:15.5205 (113.691) 
2. (12) Will Power,                                            Chevrolet,                  01:15.5556 (113.638)
3. (1) Simon Pagenaud,                                    Chevrolet,                   01:15.6356 (113.518)
4. (3) Helio Castroneves,                                  Chevrolet,                  01:15.8032 (113.267)
5. (26) Takuma Sato,                                         Honda,                       01:16.2208 (112.646)
6. (9) Scott Dixon,                                             Honda,                       01:16.3978 (112.385)
7. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay,                                 Honda,                       01:16.1815 (112.705)
8. (98) Alexander Rossi,                                     Honda,                      01:16.1934 (112.687)
9. (15) Graham Rahal,                                        Honda,                      01:16.1968 (112.682)
10. (18) Sebastien Bourdais,                               Honda,                      01:16.5811 (112.116)
11. (27) Marco Andretti,                                     Honda,                      01:16.8221 (111.765)
12. (10) Tony Kanaan,                                        Honda,                       01:16.9718 (111.547)
13. (4) Conor Daly,                                             Chevrolet,                   01:17.1016 (111.360)
14. (8) Max Chilton,                                            Honda,                       01:16.7581 (111.858)
15. (83) Charlie Kimball,                                     Honda,                       01:17.1417 (111.302)
16. (5) James Hinchcliffe,                                    Honda,                       01:16.9539 (111.573)
17. (20) Spencer Pigot,                                        Chevrolet,                  01:17.2662 (111.122)
18. (19) Ed Jones,                                                 Honda,                      01:17.0231 (111.473)
19. (7) Jack Harvey,                                             Honda,                       01:17.2722 (111.114)
20. (21) JR Hildebrand,                                     Chevrolet,                   01:17.1602 (111.275)
21. (13) Zachary Claman DeMelo,                    Honda,                        01:17.2814 (111.100)
22. (14) Carlos Munoz,                                     Chevrolet,                   01:17.2507 (111.145)

Sunday dawned a great sunny warm morning clearing skies after early morning fog and an atmosphere you could cut a knife though as everyone along the paddock area could sense there was to be a lot on the line today. The morning warm up pretty much went in a flash with nothing major to report. Newgarden looking calm and busy taking selfies in the pit lane before jumping in the car, Dixon had a slightly concerned look but proved to be very fast in the session.
A few hours later and it was race time, the anthems played, the driver intros happened and the day time fireworks went with a bang and the then it was game time 85 laps and pretty much winner take all.

For Team Penske, it was to become the perfect day. Simon Pagenaud won the race to conclude the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Teammate Josef Newgarden finished second to wrap up the championship.
Pagenaud, the 2016 champion driving the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, beat Newgarden to the finish line by 1.0986 seconds to win the 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway. It was the Frenchman's 11th career victory and second straight on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn permanent road course. A year ago, Pagenaud won from the pole position at Sonoma to sew up his first championship. It did manage to get a little tense when after the last batch of pit stops came and the NO 1 car took the lead as Newgarden looked to have a shot of passing him but was reminded via team radio to be smart and smart he was.
He clinched his first title and the $1 million champion's prize by finishing second in the race. The 26-year-old Tennessean held off Pagenaud by 13 points in the final standings to become the first American driver to win the championship since Ryan Hunter-Reay five years ago. If ever Indy Car needed to sell the series within its own country yet again the have the most ideal way to do it and market this new champ.
"I don't even know what to say," said Newgarden, the driver of the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who made his 100th career start today. "It was all year and it took a lot to make it happen. Thank you to my teammates. They were giving me a lot of help to make sure we got this done. It's a huge team effort at Team Penske.
"To finally get it done is a dream come true."

The championship is the 15th for Team Penske, the most decorated team in Indy car history. Newgarden joins the likes of Tom Sneva, Rick Mears, Al Unser, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser Jr., Gil de Ferran, Sam Hornish Jr., Will Power and Pagenaud as Team Penske drivers to win an Indy car title.
"I've had so many great drivers, and as I said, I don't have a favorite," team owner Roger Penske said. "I can't compare (Newgarden) to anyone exactly. He's an American, which is special in this sport because many of the other drivers have come from overseas and different parts of the world. To see Josef kind of take this route and be at the top right now is pretty exciting."
The race ran caution-free for the first time in Sonoma Raceway history, which now spans 14 Indy car events. Newgarden and Pagenaud each led 41 laps. Pagenaud opted for a four-stop strategy to Newgarden's three pit stops, but the Frenchman made up the extra time in pit lane by turning faster laps on an open track.
Pagenaud completed all 2,331 laps this season, becoming just the second driver to finish every lap in a season. Tony Kanaan was the first, when he completed all 3,305 laps when he won the 2004 championship.
"We did what we had to do," Pagenaud said. "We tried. We won the race; it wasn't enough. It's a whole championship. You've got to be strong in every race and I guess Josef was a little stronger this year, so we'll come back. Thirteen points. Next year we'll come back and give him a hell of a competition again."
Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, gave Team Penske a race podium sweep by placing third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske. Scott Dixon finished fourth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing to clinch third in the standings, 23 points behind Newgarden. It is the 11th time in his 17-year career that Dixon, a four-time champion, has finished in the top three in points. The kiwi may not have won the title but by heck his stats are so impressive, 11 times in the top 3 at a season end just for starters wow. Big points lost at both Indy and Texas were without a doubt the areas where it perhaps got away from the very likeable kiwi. Speaking after the race  Dixon said "It just seems like the No. 3 car covered us. Every time we short-pitted they followed us and he was just a massive roadblock. Once we got into clean air, we were able to make up ground, but every time we got into traffic we got real loose. Huge credit to everyone on the NTT Data crew obviously not the way we wanted to finish. A big congrats to Penske and Josef (Newgarden) on a job well done."

Speaking of number 3 Helio Castroneves wrapped up fourth in the standings by finishing fifth in the race driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Completing his 20th year racing Indy cars, the 42-year-old Brazilian is still in search of his first series championship.
By finishing third in the race, Power - the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion - earned fifth place in the standings.
In what really became a rather uneventful race it had plenty in it as the power of four Penske cars took on the lone Ganassi entry.
In the recent days since the event so much has happened, Castroneves tested the Penske sports car the very next day across the other side of the country in Florida and there is still some talk of him remaining in Indy Car full time and that announcement will come in the next few weeks. TK confirmed the move to A.J. Foyt racing for 2018 so someone (Daly or Munoz) wont be staying there, Sato was officially confirmed at Rahal Letterman Racing for next season, it’s a shame he wont be at Andretti Autosport in 2018 to build on a great year in 2017 and then the Ganassi news of Wednesday 20th of only two full time cars in 2018 for Dixon stays while the others have either moved on or gone and hmm Brendon Hartley making it an all kiwi line up next season – well watch that space but the rumours are very strong that’s for sure. Ganassi saying on Wednesday its time to get back to running two strong entries and running them well. I think there is more to come in this story yet that’s for sure.
So recapping the race this is how it finished up.

1. (3) Simon Pagenaud,                                     Chevrolet,                   85, Running 
2. (1) Josef Newgarden,                                     Chevrolet,                   85, Running
3. (2) Will Power,                                               Chevrolet,                   85, Running
4. (6) Scott Dixon,                                             Honda,                         85, Running
5. (4) Helio Castroneves,                                   Chevrolet,                    85, Running
6. (9) Graham Rahal,                                          Honda,                         85, Running
7. (11) Marco Andretti,                                      Honda,                          85, Running
8. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay,                                   Honda,                          85, Running
9. (10) Sebastien Bourdais,                                Honda,                          85, Running
10. (13) Conor Daly,                                          Chevrolet,                    85, Running
11. (15) Charlie Kimball,                                   Honda,                         85, Running
12. (14) Max Chilton,                                        Honda,                         85, Running
13. (17) Spencer Pigot,                                     Chevrolet,                   84, Running
14. (20) JR Hildebrand,                                     Chevrolet,                   84, Running
15. (22) Carlos Munoz,                                     Chevrolet,                   84, Running
16. (12) Tony Kanaan,                                       Honda,                        84, Running                 
17. (21) Zachary Claman DeMelo,                  Honda,                         84, Running
18. (19) Jack Harvey,                                        Honda,                        84, Running
19. (18) Ed Jones,                                              Honda,                        69, Off Course
20. (5) Takuma Sato,                                          Honda,                        62, Off Course
21. (8) Alexander Rossi,                                    Honda,                        60, Running
22. (16) James Hinchcliffe,                               Honda,                         52, Electrical

Race Statistics
Winner's average speed:
 104.968 mph
Time of Race:
Margin of victory:
 1.0986 seconds
Lead changes:
 6 among 3 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Newgarden 1-17
Daly 18-20
Pagenaud 21-29
Newgarden 30-39
Pagenaud 40-47
Newgarden 48-61
Pagenaud 62-85

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings:
 Newgarden 642, Pagenaud 629, Dixon 621, Castroneves 598, Power 562, Rahal 522, Rossi 494, Sato 441, Hunter-Reay 421, Kanaan 403.

Coming soon I will review the 2017 season and look back at some of the stand outs of the great season it was and now we count down to 2018. Ganassi already back into it this weekend with an official test planned with the 2018 aero kit.

Media quotes via Indy Car Media Services.
Photos David Turner

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Chase for the 2017 IndyCar Title

Countdown to the 2017 Indy Car Championship.

This Sunday in the U.S. will see yet another classic Indy Car Series year come to an end and yet again another championship that goes to the wire and once again it makes a very strong statement about the quality of this series and the drivers that compete in it. For the winner the title and the Astor Cup. Sonoma plays host to the Grand Final for the third year in a row and the 2.385 mile permanent road course with up and down hill climbs will be a great challenge to all. 85 laps will make up the race distance, with a total of 150 seconds of useable push to pass activation for the drivers. Seven sets of Firestone primary tires and four sets of the alternate compound. Teams must use one set of each during the race. That’s kind of almost the easy bit.

Point’s leader is Josef Newgarden going into this the final round of the series this weekend at the Sonoma racetrack just across the bay from the city of San Francisco. He is the new boy on the block in terms of been in this type of position at this time of the year and will that pressure come into play. At the last round leaving the pit at Watkins Glen certainly saw signs of increased pressure as he battled with team mate Will Power out of the pit resulting in an error from Newgarden and hitting the pit lane exit wall. A margin of just 3 points over the 4 time champ Kiwi Scott Dixon who lies in a very strong second after a very dramatic season, who in turn is only 19 points ahead of Helio Castroneves in third he trails the leader by 22. Pausing here for just a second and looking at the top 3. Newgarden an awesome year with four wins in his first full series with Team Penske strong performances but never had the pressure a championship weekend brings. Dixon been there before, won the championship four times and his stats are simply mind blowing. 286 Indy Car starts won the series four times 41 wins overall, 26 poles, 96 top 3 finishes and 140 top 5’s and across his Indy Car life he has lead 5031 laps of racing simply outstanding oh yes and the 2008 Indy 500 title as well. Castroneves on the other hand 3 Indy 500 wins but never claimed a championship so will history repeat itself one has to wonder and this very well maybe his last full time Indy Car season so it very much is a now or never for the very likeable Brazilian.

Moving outside of the top 3 and there are four others that can in theory win the crown and with the final event a double points race there is 100 points on the table for the win plus bonus points for laps lead and poles. In a small side note if Newgarden and Dixon were to tie Dixon would win based on more bonus points rather than race wins. Back to the other contenders then. Current camp Simon Pagenaud is still in the game that’s for sure and while he sits fourth he is only 34 points away from the top of the table, he was also the race winner in 2016 and set a new qualifying record then as well so he is very much suited to this track. Fifth is the last of the four Penske drivers Will Power at 68 points behind the leader and its still possible that’s for sure. One can of course remember Power coming together with Montoya a few years back (2015) costing JPM the title and gifting it to Dixon on a tiebreaker and count back so team boss Roger Penske won’t be wanting that same out come. Then to sixth place and still in with a chance is Alexander Rossi for Andretti Autosport some 84 points behind the leader but the most recent race winner and on a bit of a roll after resigning with the team for next season and rounding out the points chances is Graham Rahal 94 points behind the leader and really out of the chase as it requires too many other things to happen.

So four Penske drivers all in with a chance surround Dixon all Chevy powered to his lone Honda powered entry before the next Honda powered car of Rossi and with little teammate support around him. This of course is both good or bad however time will tell but if there was ever a need for Kennan (9th), Kimball (17th) and Chilton (12th) to get up front now is the time to steal points and protect the team leader while the bunch of Penske drivers race for a tile or trip each other up.

Honda v Chevy and its really anyone’s game in that department but maybe slightly leaning towards Chevy on the Road Course rather than Hondas aero package more suited to the ovals.

No matter what Sunday will bring a championship title and a crown to one of these drivers, if it happens to be Dixon he becomes a five-time winner.

In closing the rumour mill of who is where in 2018 well that keeps getting hotter all the time. Penske down to three full time cars its pretty much out there now and it should and will see the departure of Helio while at Ganassi expect Dixon to be the only one of the current crop that stays while the others depart to shores unknown (apart from TK whom looks set to join AJ Foyt Racing, which is something he has always wanted to do and drive for AJ at Indy) and there is even talk of the team down sizing for 2018 to a two car team and the very very high chance it will be an all Kiwi team with Brendon Hartley set to join and drive the number 10 car heck roll on 2018 already and many hands to be played yet as well.


Scott Dixon and the Astor Cup for the IndyCar Championship – Chris Owens Indy Car Media Services

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Rossi wins at the Glen

Rossi wins at Watkins Glen as championship tightens

                                                        Rossi at the 100th Indy 500 2016
Now there is just one round of the 2017 season to go after Alexander Rossi completed a dream weekend with a win in the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen. Josef Newgarden endured a nightmare incident in the race that leaves the Verizon IndyCar Series championship battle wide open for the 12th straight year heading to the season finale. No one can ever ask for more than this as a fan in terms of a battle for a championship. Both Honda or Chevy may claim the title and Penske or Ganassi the team crown. It will be a classic and every single point will count.
Rossi won the 60-lap race at iconic Watkins Glen International from the pole position on the same weekend it was announced he would return to Andretti Autosport next season in a multiyear deal along with sponsor NAPA Auto Parts. The 25-year-old Californian led a race-high 32 laps and drove the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda across the finish line 0.9514 of a second ahead of four-time Watkins Glen winner Scott Dixon.
Points leader Josef Newgarden finished 18th after his car sustained damage in a collision leaving the pits. The Team Penske driver saw his championship lead slip to three points over Dixon with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, offering double race points on Sept. 17, remaining. Seven drivers are still mathematically alive in the title hunt. The Verizon IndyCar Series champion has been determined in the season's final race every year dating to 2006.
Rossi overcame a malfunctioning fuel probe on his second pit stop that left him short of Sunoco E85 ethanol and forced an earlier third stop than scheduled. From there, Rossi laid down laps at near-qualifying pace, regaining the lead on Lap 29 and building an advantage of more than 12 seconds. The full-course caution for Newgarden's incident on Lap 46 bunched the field, but Rossi kept Dixon, in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, at bay over the 11-lap dash to the finish.
The victory was the second for Rossi in the Verizon IndyCar Series and first since his memorable triumph as a rookie in the 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. 
"An amazing job by the whole team today," Rossi said. "We had an issue in the beginning with the fuel thing, but whatever. It doesn't matter, the team recovered. We had the pace to do it, but it's pretty amazing. 
"It's a huge team effort. I've talked about so much how much we've improved, I'm so happy we're finally able to win."
Dixon, in search of a fifth season championship that would leave the 37-year-old New Zealander behind only A.J. Foyt (with seven) on the all-time list, had his own eventual day but was rewarded in points with the second-place finish.
"Definitely a good move in the points," Dixon said. "I'm kind of shocked we ended up where we did. 
"I locked up coming in on the first stop on the wet (tires) and it wouldn't downshift, so almost stalled the car, got into the pits and we couldn't fuel it. And then we had a fumble later - we lost another four or five spots - so we had to pass a lot of cars today. ... Nice recovery by the team, ended up second."
Newgarden had just assumed the lead in the No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet when he made his final stop on Lap 46 under green-flag conditions. Will Power - whose pit stall was directly in front of Newgarden's - barely beat his teammate out of the pits and onto the narrow, curving, downhill pit exit lane.
Newgarden locked his brakes avoiding Power and slid into the guardrail separating the pit exit from the track in Turn 1 of the 3.37-mile, 11-turn permanent road course. Sebastien Bourdais, also leaving the pits in the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda, hit Newgarden from behind. Newgarden continued but sustained front wing and right rear tire ramp damage. The 26-year-old Tennessean finished two laps off the pace and saw 28 points shaved from his championship lead.
"I felt like we were in a good position until that final pit stop," Newgarden said. "No excuse for it. It was my fault. I saw Will leave right in front of us and I just locked it up and slid over into the wall. Then (Bourdais) got into the back of me. 
"It's unfortunate, but there's nothing I can do about it. We'll go to Sonoma in a couple of weeks and race for it."
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third in the No. 28 DHL Honda to give Andretti Autosport two podium finishers. Helio Castroneves placed fourth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet and retained third in the championship, 22 points behind Newgarden.
Other drivers with a chance of winning the title at the Sonoma finale are: 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud, fourth in the standings (-34 points to Newgarden) after a ninth-place finish today in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet; Power, fifth in the standings (-68 points) after finishing sixth in the race in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet; Rossi, sixth in the standings (-84 points); and Graham Rahal, seventh in the standings (-94 points) after a fifth-place race finish in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.
The race at Sonoma Raceway offers 100 points to the winner, 80 for second place, 70 for third and down from there.  In just two weeks time the 2017 Champion will be know and one thing for certain this is going to be yet another classic season ender to another great IndyCar season.
Todays race results
1. (1) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 60, Running
2. (2) Scott Dixon, Honda, 60, Running
3. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 60, Running
4. (6) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 60, Running
5. (10) Graham Rahal, Honda, 60, Running 
6. (8) Will Power, Chevrolet, 60, Running
7. (5) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 60, Running
8. (19) Max Chilton, Honda, 60, Running
9. (12) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 60, Running
10. (11) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 60, Running
11. (14) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 60, Running
12. (13) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 60, Running
13. (15) Ed Jones, Honda, 60, Running
14. (18) Jack Harvey, Honda, 60, Running
15. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 60, Running
16. (20) Marco Andretti, Honda, 60, Running
17. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 60, Running
18. (3) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 58, Running
19. (4) Takuma Sato, Honda, 56, Running 
20. (17) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 46, Contact
21. (16) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 5, Mechanical

Race Statistics:
Winner's average speed: 118.865 mph
Time of Race: 1:42:03.9024
Margin of victory: 0.9514 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 9 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 6 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Rossi 1 
Castroneves 2-14 
Pigot 15-22 
Rossi 23 
Hunter-Reay 24-27 
Rossi 28-42 
Dixon 43-44 
Newgarden 45 
Rossi 46-60 

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 560, Dixon 557, Castroneves 538, Pagenaud 526, Power 492, Rossi 476, Rahal 466, Sato 421, Kanaan 375, Hunter-Reay 373.
Photo from David Turner collection at the 100th Indy 500
Media Quotes ex IndyCar Media