The show must go on as the old saying goes and in this case the race must take place. IndyCar’s season finale will occur on Sunday and as we move on from the tragic loss of Justin Wilson we do so saddened and humbled, yet also grateful and appreciative for the decade of racing we all had rooting for him. JWil was a true gentleman and talented racer who made the world a better place; it’ll be a poorer, less joyous world without him.
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We hate to say it but the trajectory IndyCar’s been on lately we wouldn’t be surprised if either massive wildfires engulf the entire track this weekend or – and also God forbid – the big one finally hits California and breaks the whole kit and caboodle off into the sea, or possibly both. One seriously wonders what the formerly Golden state did to deserve such luck, until remembering Hollywood, Simi Valley, Charlie Manson, Watts, Willie Brown, Napa Valley, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, The Gover-nator, Riverside, and on and on and on.
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But barring such calamities or the intervention of political villains, there’ll be a champion crowned at the end of it all – funnily the race winner almost always gets overshadowed by the champ at the conclusion of the finale – and like him or not we’re starkly faced with the fact it’ll be the last IndyCar race until at least next spring. So by God we are resolutely determined to enjoy it. Justin would have wanted us to and as we were all rudely reminded this week, one never knows when it’ll be your last race.
Image from imgarcade.com
The Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be a double points race, a contrived bit of drama meant to keep things interesting in a Penske dominated league on a less than interesting track. Truth is, IndyCar never needs artificial rules or double points for exciting season finales, although it could use a decent track for next year’s – preferably an oval. Joy!
Photo from racesonoma.com
In brittle, brown, baked-out northern California – the land of perpetual drought (and that’s low on the list of the state’s problems) – Sonoma Raceway sits there like a salamander sunning itself. Formerly Sears Point Raceway, the hilly and desolate road course surrounded by a sea of dead grass and sagebrush looks as though it could be on Mars, only as the Mars Rover has demonstrated, “Bored to Tears Point” is less visually stimulating than the barren red planet.
Photo from usatoday.com
Shockingly last year some actual entertaining racing broke out at Sonoma, with Dixon taking the win in a wild, crash filled finish. Fittingly an earthquake jolted the area the night before the race – see what we mean!? – spawning some priceless quotes from drivers. Dixon also won back in 2007, while Power won three times in between, in 2010-11 and again in 2013. Briscoe, Helio, TK and Marco have all won there as well, though Marco’s win – the first of only two in his decade long career – comes with a huge asterisk. Power‘s usually on pole at the prickly point and perhaps his prowess can be perpetuated.
Photo from usatoday.com
Mathematically there are six remaining contenders in the title hunt, though the top three – Montoya, Rahal and Dixon – have the best shot at it. They’re followed by the second tier also-rans Power, Helio and Newgarden. It’s theoretically possible one of the latter could win the championship, but it would involve the aforementioned wildfire/earthquake Armageddon scenario. Let’s hope it’s one of the top tier who come out on top.
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Indy 500 winner Juan Montoya’s led most of the season for Team Penske. Rahal’s hopes took a broadside at Pocono thanks to Vautier, but he still remains best situated to knock the crotchety, complain-y Colombian off his perch. Nothing would bring us more joy than to see it happen. Don’t overlook Dixie either, though an American champion in what’s been a solid season for U.S. born drivers would make a satisfying conclusion to a tumultuous year. We wouldn’t mind helping Graham and especially that gorgeous fiancée of his celebrate a championship. Determined joy, indeed!
Photo from examiner.com