The season finale is here as the 17th and final round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is upon us. It’s also the final race the series will hold at Sonoma Raceway for at least the next few years.
There are plenty of storylines surrounding this race, here are the top five.
This is the biggest storyline of the weekend. Four drivers enter this weekend’s race with a shot of hoisting the Astor Cup championship trophy. Due to this being a double points race, that’s why so many drivers are eligible but in reality, this is just a two race show.
Scott Dixon leads Alexander Rossi by 29 points as they have the best odds of being crowned champions. Josef Newgarden (-87) and Will Power (-87) are still within striking distance, but they need a ton of help.
Like it or not, double points are offered again this weekend as Sonoma and the Indy 500 are the only two races that have double points on the line. This race is basically two races worth of points, so it can make or break literally every driver in the field and their final points standing. If you have a bad day, you’re certain to fall at least a few spots.
So, finishing position is huge at Sonoma.
Team Penske Favorites But Likely To See Title Run End
Team Penske has won six of the last eight races at Sonoma including Simon Pagenaud winning two straight. They’ve been so good on natural road courses this year too with taking three wins in five tries. Can they end the season with another victory on Sunday?
Odds say yes, but due to their standing in the points, it’s not likely they’ll win the title. Penske has also won each of the last two championships and three of the last four. Unless something drastic happens, that will come to an end on Sunday.
Honda Points Championship?
They’ve already won the manufacturers title with Chevrolet, now they have their eyes on a points championship too. Chevy has dominate Astor Cup trophies since they returned in 2012 and have won four straight titles and five of the last six. The only Honda driver to win a championship in that time frame was Scott Dixon in 2013.
Now, Dixon and Rossi are 1-2 in the standings and well clear of third place. While they’re the only Honda’s able to win this year’s championship, I think they’ll do it and likely finish 1-2 as well.
Few Cautions, Qualifying Matters
Strategy is really thrown out of the window at Sonoma. Usually, qualifying determines success on the wine country track before there are so few yellows during the course of the race. Two of the last three races on natural road courses, each saw zero cautions fly. Last year’s race in Sonoma didn’t have a caution fly either. The 2016 race had just one caution.
That’s why 13 of the last 14 races at Sonoma have been won by a driver from a top five starting spot. 10 of those winners came from the top three. There aren’t any cautions that fly to flip the field nor any that aid in strategy.
So, if you want to win on Sunday, don’t bank on a caution and make sure you’re starting in the Firestone Fast Six.
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