Watkins Glen shock sets up seven-way showdown at IndyCar finale

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Seven drivers are mathematically capable of winning the IndyCar title in the final race at Sonoma following a dramatic penultimate round at Watkins Glen.

Also last weekend the World Endurance Championship and Formula V8 3.5 headed to Mexico and Silverstone hosted the Euroformula Open series.


Race 16: Watkins Glen

Scott Dixon slashed Josef Newgarden’s championship lead to just three points with one race remaining, but the four-times winner at Watkins Glen had to give best to an on-form Alexander Rossi. The Andretti driver scored his second IndyCar win, and first since his Indy 500 triumph, in the first race after signing a new deal to continue at the team next year.

Rossi toasted his new deal with victory champagne
Damp patches on the track meant the entire field started on wet weather tyres but almost everyone pitted at the end of the opening lap for slicks. Rossi had led from pole but was soon passed by Helio Castroneves.

Rossi’s victory hopes took another blow when he was forced to pit early due to a fuel pump problem. Fortunately for him Takuma Sato spun and brought out a full-course caution two laps later which promoted Rossi back to the head of the field as his competitors pitted.

Championship leader Newgarden held a temporary lead before his final stop but locked his front right on the pit exit and slithered hopelessly into the wall, where he was collected by Sebastien Bourdais. His damaged car was eventually classified 18th, allowing several of his championship rivals to make hay.

By holding Dixon off, Rossi ensured Newgarden will arrive at Sonoma still in the lead of the points. Newgarden, Dixon, Castroneves and defending champion Simon Pagenaud will all go to California with a realistic shot at the title while Will Power, Rossi and Graham Rahal will also be mathematically in contention at the double points finale.

World Endurance Championship

Race 5: Mexico City

Porsche won again in WEC
A Porsche winning at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is something we won’t see in the World Endurance Championship next year as the manufacturer won’t return to the championship and the championship won’t return to the track. Nonetheless Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley extended their lead at the top of the championship with their third win in a row.

Julien Canal, Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna took LMP2 honours for Rebellion while Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen won the GTE Pro category in their Aston Martin.

Euroformula Open

Races 9-10: Silverstone

The first race was won from pole position by Harrison Scott, the British driver winning his home race in dominant fashion, completing the Grand Chelem. Devlin DeFrancesco finished in second, the young Canadian continuing good form in the UK after his fifth place in last year’s British F4 championship. Alex Karkosik completed the podium, finishing in third after starting on the front row and falling behind DeFrancesco at the halfway mark. Completing the top five were Ameya Vaidyanathan and Nikita Troitsky, with series debutant Ben Hingeley taking an impressive sixth.

In race two, Scott was again in imperious form, claiming a second Grand Chelem. DeFrancesco finished in second once more, while the podium was this time completed by Jannes Fittje. Hingeley completed an impressive maiden weekend, putting Fittje under considerable pressure towards the end, but the 20-year-old had to be content with fourth position, ahead of Troitsky and Karkosik.

World Rallycross Championship

Race 9: France

Johan Kristofferson took his fourth win in a row as he continues to stride towards a maiden World Rallycross championship title. Kristofferson took his joker lap late on but had built up enough of a lead to hold off Sebastien Loeb and Mattias Ekstrom, while Timmy Hansen and Kristofferson’s closest challenger Petter Solberg both suffered problems.

World Series Formula V8 3.5

Races 13-14: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Pietro Fittipaldi dominated both Formula V8 3.5 races in Mexico from pole position and leads the championship with four races remaining.

Egor Orudzhev went off-track at the start of race one, bringing out the Safety Car. Matevos Isaakyan recovered from a poor start to finish second after overtaking the Teo Martin duo of Alex Palou and Konstantin Tereshchenko, who finished in third and fourth respectively.

Fittipaldi took a comfortable race two victory ahead of home favourite and Force India junior driver Alfonso Celis Jnr, with Tereshchenko taking the first podium of his Formula V8 3.5 career. Orudzhev retired for the second race in a row, meaning he conceded a maximum 50 points to Fittipaldi, who is now 53 points ahead with the Russian down in fourth.


Race 25: Darlington

Denny Hamlin won the penultimate race of the ‘regular season’ before the Chase for the Cup begins. He led Kyle Busch home in a one-two for Joe Gibbs after early leader Martin Truex Jnr dropped back with handling problems.

Also last weekend

Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix, becoming the first driver in 2017 to win back-to-back races. He also took the championship lead from Sebastian Vettel who finished third. The two were split by Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes dominated the race.

In F2, Charles Leclerc was beaten in qualifying for the first time as he ended up seventh, with Nobuharu Matsushita taking his maiden pole position. The feature race took place in wet conditions following the heavily postponed F1 qualifying session and was the first to use the new procedure for starting a wet race from the grid following a Safety Car period.

Antonio Fuoco was eventually declared the winner of the race despite Luca Ghiotto taking the chequered flag first at the end of a crazy final lap. A five-second penalty for cutting the chicane on the final lap cost Ghiotto a home win. Leclerc failed to score after being pushed off the track by De Vries – the latter was later given an inconsequential 20-second time penalty.

De Vries had led from the start after Artem Markelov misjudged his braking into turn one, knocking de Vries and Matsushita wide. Leclerc made rapid progress through the field and got a bonus when championship rival Oliver Rowland’s race was ruined by a wheel which fell off after a pit stop. That brought out the Safety Car and set up the frantic dash to the flag.

Ghiotto made amends on Sunday by winning the sprint race ahead of Sergio Sette Camara and Fuoco. Leclerc and Rowland both fought through the field but failed to score. Nonetheless Leclerc can clinch the championship at the next round at Jerez, the only standalone F2 round this year.

Saturday’s rain and F1 delays meant GP3 qualifying and race two were cancelled. Race one was held on Sunday morning and the grid was set by practice times. George Russell won ahead of team mates Jack Aitken and Anthoine Hubert while drama unfolded behind them.

Leonardo Pulcini hit Alessio Lorandi and mounted the back of his compatriot at the Variante della Roggia, both spearing into the run-off and hitting the barriers. There was another incident later on as Juan Manuel Correa hit his team mate Arjun Maini, while Niko Kari – who has recently been dropped by Red Bull as a junior driver – also crashed by himself late on.

Over to you

What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Next weekend’s racing

The following series are in action next weekend:

  • Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters races 13-14: Nurburgring
  • European Formula Three races 22-24: Nurburgring
  • Japanese Super Formula race 5: Autopolis
  • NASCAR Cup race 26: Richmond

Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@mathers) for contributing to this article.

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23 comments on “Watkins Glen shock sets up seven-way showdown at IndyCar finale”

  1. Regarding mathematically possible outcomes of the 2017 IndyCar season, isn’t that an even more hypothetical scenario than mathematical title chances in F1? The way the points system works (it beggars description, in my opinion), the only way Graham Rahal, being 7th and 94 points behind the leader, could be crowned champion would be by winning the race, while both Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon do not participate in the race, thus scoring just 5 points each. If they do take part in the race, they cannot score less than 10 points (for finishing 25th or lower), and considering that only 21 cars will be fielded, the minimum score for taking part in the race would be 18 points, which means that Alexander Rossi’s title chances would also die mathematically speaking as soon as the lights go out with Newgarden on the grid.
    Or am I missing something?

    On an unrelated note:
    I’ve never heard of Euroformula Open before. It could’ve been completely made up a few hours ago, for all I know, but I understand it’s already running the third season under that name. Weird.

    1. 3 points between the top two just goes to show why double points are not needed. I don’t care if it’s 4, 5, 6 or 7 people with an unrealistic ‘mathematical chance. High numbers are great during the season, hell, high numbers with realistic chances would be great, but right now what I care about is a classic one on one winner takes all between Dixon and Newgarden.
      Old dog vs young gun. What more could you want?
      Old dog who survived a potentially life ending crash at Indy (and plenty of double points lost) vs young gun asserting himself in a top team despite his top notch experienced team mates, who may potentially be struggling with the pressure (shades of Hamilton China 07).
      Can’t wait for Sonoma!

    2. you are right – it’s between the 4 Penskes and Dixon as long as they all take place in the race

    3. I’ve never heard of Euroformula Open before.

      It’s been through a few names. It was originally the Spanish F3 championship, then it started racing at more circuits outside Spain and became known as F3 Open. Then the FIA began cracking down on series describing themselves as ‘F3’ which is when it became ‘Euroformula Open’. It still runs F3 chassis.

    4. Sonoma will have 22 entries, with a potential 23rd(Garcia-SPM test pending)

      The thing you are missing is BONUS POINTS
      Rossi can win the Championship(with 4 bonus points-Final Score is 580) if…
      Newgarden gets 21st or worse(578 points for 21st)
      Dixon gets 19th or worse(579 points for 19th(no lap led))
      Castroneves avoiding the top 10, Pagenaud the top 6
      Power and Rahal lose any championship hopes with a Rossi Win

    5. News to me too, but it appears to be a ‘poor man’s’ F3. These spin-offs don’t seem to last long and even the official FIA sanctioned F3 has a somewhat checquered history which is a shame. I have great memories of British F3 with multiple chassis makers and engine suppliers. I just think the attraction goes out of it when it becomes a ‘spec’ series and FOM ought to keep a weather eye open for the failed history of one-make racing. It’s funny, the public seem to yearn for a level playing field so as best to judge their favourite driver, but desert the series in droves when they get it. My favourite F3 driver/car combo? Danny Watts driving the only Lola in the field and making it stick.

  2. I love how the engineering side of Indycar can be really laid bare in pitlane, much more than is possible in other series.

    I love the technology, engineering and science that goes into motorsport, but with F1 it’s almost all hidden behind closed doors – and it’s difficult to warm to spending £100 million a year on CFD developing extra swooshes for a front wing.

    But there’s something raw, and relatable, to seeing four guys attempt to strip out and replace a gearbox as quickly as possible, or a slightly overweight dude taking a hacksaw to piece of bodywork. And all out in the open without even a garage door, much less big branded screens, to hide behind. Not to mention there’s the incentive to actually do running repairs, with points for the whole field and the high chance of further incidents (not to mention the mega tight championship fight).

    Indycar, I hope you never change. Except when you move to the awesome new bodykit for next year.

    1. Agree! I love open wheel and watch both F1 and IndyCar, but IndyCar is the best racing on earth.

  3. I loved the IndyCar race. Watkins Glen is a brilliant track. And Newgarden’s error will sure make Sonoma super exciting.
    I wish the season wouldn’t end so early. Mid september? Way too early.
    Perhaps is it because of the NFL Football season, which about to start in a couple of days, that fills sunday evenings for most Americans?

    1. You are correct. For whatever reason IndyCar doesn’t want to go up against the NFL. The NFL is huge obviously, but one can record one or the other on a Sunday. The upcoming season will probably start earlier (February) in Mexico.

  4. It took Marco 5 years to win his 2nd race. Rossi did it in 1. Gene, Gunther, Chip, and Roger dropped the ball on this one. Same goes to Manor for accepting Rio Haryanto’s deal. Whether is Indy Car and Formula 1, Rossi is for real. During the 2 years of Haas F1 existence, Gutierrez, Grosjean and Magnussen did score along the way. But look at Rossi now – 3 top 10s in the last 4 races. Roger Penske is the only team that can keep him from going to Formula 1. Rossi deserves another shot at Formula 1 in the future.

  5. I don’t quite understand why all the Indy field started on wets. Was it mandated, and are there any intermediates in Indy?

    1. There are no intermediates. Before the race started, it was judged that the track was wet enough to mandate wets to start.

  6. I don’t generally see Indycar, so I won’t/can’t compare and contrast, but for me, of the series I watch regularly, Formula 2 is by far and away the greatest single source of motorsport entertainment. That final lap in the feature race was just BANANAS.

    1. Indycar is a bit like F2 with veteran drivers.

      There’s a little bit less crazy and a bit more strategy. One chassis, two engine suppliers, each of whom (for now) supply an aero kit for the chassis. Engines are bigger (3.5L V6, twin turbo), but easier to work on– seeing a mechanic running out to the pit box carrying a gearbox assembly is something you just won’t see in any other series. Refueling means a minimum of two to three pitstops. Front and rear wing changes are possible, as is seeing the support crew restarting a car on track.

      No DRS, but push-to-pass which is a time limited HP boost available to the driver– Used to be you had a limited number of pushes, now you have a total amount of time you can be on push-to-pass, which varies depending on the type of circuit.

      While I’m a huge F1 fan, it seems to me that Indycar tends to be more focused on racing, rather than The Formula(tm). Rules tend to be simpler. Then again, since there’s only one chassis and two engines, it eliminates 90% of what F1 calls the Technical Regulations. ;)

      1. Grat – IndyCar engines are 2.2L twin turbo, not 3.5L.

  7. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    4th September 2017, 22:27

    What I would give for F1 to race at Watkins Glen! Fantastic race can’t wait for the finale. I’ve always followed Indy Car but I’ve finally become ‘hooked’ this season. Would love Castroneves to finally get his title but think Dixon will do it.

    1. I’m still rooting for Newgarden, but I’ll cheer for Castroneves as well– and while it would take a miracle, Rossi has been on a role lately.

  8. Valentino Rossi had an accident during training and will be out of action this month, and probably will be out of the championship battle with MM, AD and MV.

  9. Leclerc, Ghiotto, Rowland… Great talent duking it out in F2.

  10. I still despise the fact that the final race of the Indycar season will be double points again.

    Sonoma been double points just because its the final race is stupid because there is nothing special about that track/race apart from it been the last round of the season. It’s a track where overtaking is nearly impossible & the races are nearly always dull with the final results often been determined by strategy as a result of how difficult overtaking is.

    The Indy 500 been double points kinda makes sense as its there biggest, more prestigious race that is also longer than every other race apart from Pocono (Also 500 miles), There’s just zero reason or need for the final race at Sonoma to be double points.

    1. @stefmeister

      I still despise the fact that the final race of the IndyCar season will be double points again.

      Agreed, for all the reasons it was a terrible idea when F1 did it. I also don’t likely the fact qualifying on pole at Indianapolis is worth two-thirds of a race victory.

      IndyCar’s points system is a mess. Obviously it’s nothing like as bad as NASCAR’s, but still IndyCar’s is too complicated and too unfair.

  11. Fascinated to see that Rossi’s fuel pump problem was fixed during a pit stop and I was reminiscing that in my day, that literally meant hitting the pump with a 2lb hammer (.907 kgs). Today of course, I suspect a simple reboot of the system would be all that’s required. I still prefer the old way though, as it’s when we were boss of mechanical devices, now we’re slaves.

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