NASCAR Standings after Richmond
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Elusive Ironman Title On The Line At I-55
By Nick Graziano | August 4, 2020 at 2:34 pmThe stamina and strength of the greatest Sprint Car drivers in the world will be put to the test this weekend at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 for the prestigious Ironman 55.
Drivers will compete in a doubleheader event at the fast 1/3-mile track, running 35 laps on Fri., Aug. 7 and then 55 laps on Sat., Aug. 8 – the longest World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event of the year.
With $28,000 on the line to win between the two nights and a special dumbbell trophy presented to the winner Saturday night, drivers will be pushing their cars and their bodies to the edge to claim the Ironman title.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can still watch all of the action live on DIRTVision.
Here are the top storylines to follow this weekend:
Sheldon Haudenschild / Trent Gower photoHISTORIC HAUD: Sheldon Haudenschild, of Wooster, OH, enters the Ironman 55 weekend looking to hold on to the title he claimed with a historic win last year. He won his first Ironman by more than 10 seconds over 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz, lapped up to the top-five and led 45 of the 55 laps in the caution free event.
He was on track to pull off a similar feat at the 1/3-mile track in May by taking the lead early and running away with it, but a mistake in Turn 1 resulted in him flipping over the cushion. He and his Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing team are poised to put their NOS Energy Drink #17 back in Victory Lane with their recent run of 18 top-10 finishes in a row in the last 19 events – including their win at Lincoln Speedway.
TOP CAT: Reigning champion Brad Sweet, of Grass Valley, CA, is the winningest driver on 1/3-mile tracks, so far, this year. He won at I-55 in May and swept the weekend at Beaver Dam Raceway. His brother-in-law Kyle Larson has the second most, having won at I-55 in May and his last race with the Series at Attica Raceway Park.
Both drivers were the only two to finish on the podium during the spring doubleheader event at I-55, as well.
Brad Sweet (left), Donny Schatz (center) and Kyle Larson (right) battle for the lead / Trent Gower photoSweet reclaimed the points after the last race at Williams Grove Speedway, after a wild two weeks of rare issues for both he and Donny Schatz. He’s currently 18 points ahead of Schuchart and 26 points ahead of Schatz. So, while he and his NAPA Auto Parts Kasey Kahne Racing team hunt for their first Ironman title together, they’ll also be looking for two good points nights.
DETERMINED SCHATZ: After claiming the points lead for a week, 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz fell back to third in points when a mechanical issue took him out of the race during the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove. He and his Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing team will be digging to rebound during the Ironman weekend.
Prior to the issue, they hadn’t finished worse than second in five of their last seven races – including getting their third win of the year at Lernerville Speedway.
Of all the accolades Schatz was acquired, the Ironman is one he’s still chasing after. He has two wins at the 1/3-mile track, though – the most recent coming in 2015. He finished seventh and eighth, respectively, at the speedway in May.
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IndyCar drivers ranking
Using INDYCAR’s advanced statistics and data, we’ve developed a weighted formula to rate the NTT IndyCar Series drivers after each race this season. Welcome to the Power Rankings – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Will Power is always included.
How does it work? We look beyond the results of the event, also factoring in qualifying results, on-track passes, on-track position passes and average running position throughout the race to come up with each driver’s unique rating.
The rankings are based on the four most recent races. The most recent race (Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio) is weighted the most in the rating and the oldest race (REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR) the least.
So, following Mid-Ohio and heading to Pocono on Aug. 18, here’s a look at the top NTT IndyCar Series drivers:
Who’s No. 1:
Simon Pagenaud – Sometimes consistency is key and consistent is what Simon Pagenaud has been over the last month. The Team Penske driver won a pair of poles, the Toronto race and finished just off the podium at Mid-Ohio. That moves him to No. 1 this week.
On the Rise
Chip Ganassi Racing – Scott Dixon has finished in the top five in the past four races and other than an Iowa he’d like to forget, series rookie Felix Rosenqvist has been on his tail during that stretch. At Mid-Ohio, the Ganassi duo scored the team’s first 1-2 finish in nearly four seasons. Rosenqvist was the highest-rated driver at Mid-Ohio and returns to the poll in fifth.
Looking to Bounce Back
James Hinchcliffe – The Mayor’s race at Mid-Ohio lasted less than a lap. Contact from teammate Marcus Ericsson (who had been hit by Takuma Sato) damaged Hinchcliffe’s car, and he never had a chance to show the pace he had all weekend.
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World of Outlaws
James McFadden? Brad Sweet? Kyle Larson? Your mind spun with the question of who will win, unable to find a clear answer as the three drivers dueled with the intensity of gladiators fighting to be the last man standing.
Then the dust settled. A moment of quiet ease spread around the quarter-mile Fairbury Speedway arena. Climbing atop the wing of his No. 57 machine to thunderous applause and an explosion of confetti was Larson – claiming his eighth World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series win Tuesday night.
The win gives him back-to-back World of Outlaws victories, after winning his last Series race at Lawrenceburg Speedway on Memorial Day.
“Cool to get a win back-to-back with the Outlaws, I’ve never done that before,” Larson said.
The last time he won more than one World of Outlaws race in a season was back in 2013 – a year before he went full-time NASCAR Cup Series racing.
Larson had to duel with fellow NASCAR competitor Christopher Bell and 10-time Series champion Donny Schatz to claim the win at Lawrenceburg. This time around, he had to face the dominate Kasey Kahne Racing duo of McFadden and Sweet.
The KKR teammates started the FVP Platinum Battery Showdown event going first and second in practice with Sweet pacing the field. The NAPA Auto Parts No. 49 car then backed up its speed in Qualifying by setting Quick Time. McFadden was third. Larson seventh.
Sweet then won his Drydene Heat race with ease. Larson and McFadden dueled for the win in the third Drydene Heat race of the night with Larson dominating the field.
McFadden came back with force, charging to the win in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash. Sweet finished third, and Larson sixth – setting their starting position for the 40-lap Feature.
McFadden wrestled with his 900hp machine, taming it like a wild stallion at the start of the Feature to take the early lead. His run was cut short by a red flag on the first lap for Dylan Tuxhorn rolling over in turn one.
When the Feature went back green, heart rates amplified. Breaths were held. McFadden led, but Sweet was charging for a fight.
The two teammates traded lanes lap after lap, corner after corner. Sweet could power his way to either the inside or outside of the Wicked Energy Gum No. 9 car into the turn, but McFadden could launch off the exit with the power of the gods.
While they dueled, Larson slayed the competition between him and the leaders with ease. By Lap 13, he gave the KKR duo something else to fear. Going into turn three he forced his car under Sweet, making it a three-wide battle through the corner – a common theme throughout the next several laps.
Sweet built up a strong enough run to steal the lead from McFadden on Lap 17. He couldn’t shake him, though. McFadden and Larson stayed on his bumper and the next time around they both snuck by him. McFadden threw his car low in turn three, while Larson squeezed his car between the outside of Sweet and the wall.
McFadden reclaimed the lead and now had a fierce Larson to contend with. The next lap, back in turns three and four, McFadden, again, went low and Larson high. The god-like launches McFadden could get exiting a corner were no match for the resilient throttle hungry Larson.
The two traded the lead for the next couple of laps with Larson eventually prevailing. McFadden still had fight left in him, though. And not far behind was Sweet, lurking. Waiting for another opportunity to strike.
In the closing laps, with the leaders having to navigate lap traffic, Larson couldn’t lose McFadden. The Australian was building momentum lap after lap, inching closer and closer to Larson. But then, with eight laps to go, McFadden’s battle came to an end.
While stuck behind a lap car through turns one and two, McFadden hit the corner tire and spun to a stop.
“Really fun race track,” said McFadden, still with a smile, after the Feature. “It was awesome racing with Brad and Kyle. They’re obviously a couple of the best guys in the country. I don’t know if I just misjudged the lap car. He got the tractor tire I think and slowed him a bunch. I just got into the back of him and when I did that, the tractor tire came out, after he hit it, and I got it and that was that. At the end of the day, it was a positive step for the team.”
In the remaining eight laps, Larson now had to contest with a hard charging Sweet.
Larson stuck to the bottom of the track – the least likely place for him to make a mistake, he said. Sweet took advantage of that, soaring around the outside of the speedway to find as much grip as he could to catch the Chevrolet Accessories No. 57 Silva Motorsports car.
Coming to the checkered flag, Larson faltered. He slid off turn four, scrubbing speed and allowing Sweet the opportunity to strike one final time.
The distance between the leaders was still too much for Sweet, though. Like a warrior on a steed signifying his victory, Larson sprinted to the checkered flag with his front two wheels off the ground.
“That was just an exciting race from start to finish for me,” Larson said. “Shoot, 40 laps around this place was crazy. It felt like we swapped the lead a lot. Just an awesome race track. Short tracks are always a blast.”
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