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Full Tank: Huge Weekend Features All Four Major Series Racing in 2020 at IMS

Ladies and gentlemen, start your screens.

This weekend is a cornucopia of racing action unlike any other this fall, as all four major series racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2020 are in action.

The tasty dish of petrol-powered delights starts with the BIG ONE – the showdown for the Astor Challenge Cup as NTT IndyCar Series champion – on Sunday afternoon at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. But also in top gear this weekend will be the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, MotoAmerica and Blancpain GT World Challenge America.

Let’s start with the NTT IndyCar Series. A compelling title race for the entire season will come down to four drivers and three elite teams during IndyCar’s first visit to the scenic hills of the Monterey Peninsula since 2004.

Josef Newgarden of Team Penske enters the season-ending double-points race with a 41-point gap over Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport and 42 points ahead of Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske. Scott Dixon has a longshot chance at claiming his sixth title with Chip Ganassi Racing, as he is 85 points behind Newgarden.

Once again, the NTT IndyCar Series has delivered a title run that comes down to the last race. But what makes this race unique is the unknown.

Dixon is the only one of the four title protagonists have raced in an Indy car on the picturesque, 2.238-mile circuit that features the famous and daunting “Corkscrew” turn complex. And “The Iceman’s” last Indy car start at Laguna came in 2002, so it’s not like he has a huge edge in familiarity.

Pagenaud and Rossi have raced at Laguna Seca in other series. Pagenaud’s wins in an American Le Mans Series prototype in 2009 and 2010 probably came in cars with the closest levels of power and downforce as an Indy car but still, not much translates to this weekend.

The championship decider is just one of the races being decided this weekend at Laguna. A hot Rookie of the Year tussle between leader Felix Rosenqvist, Santino Ferrucci and Colton Herta also will end at Laguna, capping a season featuring one of the best bumper crops of first-timers in recent series history.

There are races you should watch, and then there’s appointment motorsports television. The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is the latter – it will be dramatic as hell and a fitting conclusion to a gripping NTT IndyCar Series season. Tune in live at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBC.

The Playoffs for the NASCAR Cup Series roll on this weekend with the second of 10 races in the postseason, the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday night at Richmond Raceway. The pressure already is on, as the field of 16 drivers will be trimmed to 12 drivers after the unpredictable Charlotte “roval” race next Sunday, Sept. 29.

Richmond will be the best, most known chance for drivers who stumbled out of the gate last Sunday at Las Vegas to get their postseason hopes back on track. Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones are sitting 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively, in the standings entering the night race at Richmond and must get into gear if they have almost any hope of making the cut to 12 drivers.

Timing is one of the beauties of this race weekend, too. The NTT IndyCar Series showdown is Sunday afternoon, while the Richmond round of the Cup Series starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN.

No clash. No decision over which race to watch live and which to put on the DVR. No channel-hopping during commercials.

Perfect.

One of the two newest additions to the diverse event lineup in 2020 at the Racing Capital of the World will finish its season this weekend, like IndyCar at Laguna Seca.

MotoAmerica’s 2019 season finale takes place at Barber Motorsports Park – a venue known and enjoyed by all NTT IndyCar Series fans – on Friday through Sunday with the Championship of Alabama.

The top motorcycle road-racing series in America features a two-event format per weekend for some of its classes, so the 16-point lead held by former MotoGP rider Toni Elias over American rider Cameron Beaubier in the premier EBC Brakes Superbike class could vanish.

Elias has eight victories in 18 races for the powerhouse Yoshimura Suzuki team, while Beaubier has four wins for Yamaha Factory Racing. Their duel for the title will be a clash of the series two best riders and teams.

The race is even tighter in the Supersport class. Bobby Fong leads PJ Jacobsen by just 10 points, with two races scheduled this weekend at Barber. Their dramatic title chase essentially comes down to winner takes all.

Live coverage is provided through the MotoAmerica Live+ streaming service available for purchase through motoamerica.com. FOX Sports 2 will provide same-day coverage of the Superbike races at 10:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday – probably right around when the checkered flag flies on the NASCAR Cup race at Richmond – and at 9 p.m. (ET) Sunday, well after the finish of the NTT IndyCar Series season finale.

The Blancpain GT World Challenge America sports car series will undertake its second-to-last race of the season this weekend at the mighty Road America. Drivers will race in two 90-minute rounds featuring a fun array of machinery from six manufacturers.

Title races in the Pro and Pro-Am classes will continue. Toni Vilander of Finland, in a Ferrari, leads the Bentley duo of Alvaro Parente of Portugal and Andy Soucek of Spain by 28 points in the Pro standings.

Former Indy Lights driver Scott Hargrove is fifth in the championship and will team with ace veteran Patrick Long in a Porsche 911 GT3 R this weekend.

Races and qualifying will be streamed live on gt-world-challenge-america.com, with the Sunday race live at 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. Set your DVR for this one and catch it after the IndyCar finale at Laguna.

As a reminder, here’s when these fantastic, competitive series will race in 2020 at IMS:

NTT IndyCar Series
Saturday, May 9: INDYCAR Grand Prix
Sunday, May 24: 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Sunday, July 5: Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line

MotoAmerica
Friday, Aug. 21-Sunday, Aug. 23: Championship of Indy

Blancpain GT World Challenge America
Thursday, Oct. 1-Sunday, Oct. 4: Indianapolis 8 Hours

Visit IMS.com for ticket information about all four events.

 
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