SONOMA, Calif – I wrote before the Verizon IndyCar Series season even begun that they were also in a youth movement phase. Well, that youth will be put on full display for the season finale at the Sonoma Raceway. Yes, the biggest storyline surrounding the 17th and final stop on the schedule is about the championship. The battle between Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi will be by far the main topic of conversation and it will only crescendo as the weekend goes on.
But, throw in the Penske battle as Will Power and Josef Newgarden are also still technically mathematically alive for the championship and the storied organization has won each of the last three series championships and six of the last eight races at Sonoma overall and you get another big storyline.
You also can’t forget about this being the end of an era for Verizon as INDYCAR’s entitlement sponsor and this too being the final race for the foreseeable future for the series on the wine country track. Combine all, and we get four very big storylines.
Well, one storyline that we’re overlooking is the youth movement. We have count them, eight rookies in the field this weekend. We also have a second year driver in Ed Jones racing too. Combined, that’s 36-percent of the drivers racing in Sunday’s race (6:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) are either in their rookie or sophomore seasons.
Plus, it’s not like those nine drivers are slouches either.
Santino Ferrucci will make his fourth career start. You have Indy Lights champion Pato O’Ward as well as the driver that finished second to O’Ward in the championship race in Colton Herta making their series debuts too. They’ll do so as teammates with Harding Racing.
Pietro Fittipaldi has been stellar lately and will be making just his sixth career start while Jack Harvey is back for his ninth race of his career. Jordan King will race in his 11th race of the 2018 season joining full time rookies Matheus Leist and Zach Veach in Sonoma obviously too.
Then there’s Ed Jones, you know the guy who won the Indy Lights championship in 2016 and Rookie of the Year in the series in 2017, making just his 34th career start. While his status with Chip Ganassi Racing is up in the air past this season, he’s going to be a driver that will be garnering attention in the offseason.
All nine of those drivers have earned seats in this series for 2019 and the future. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see all nine in rides next season in general.
This race in Sonoma could be the race that we look back on and gloat on how much talent was in this field and how young they all are.