FeaturesThe Week That Was

The Week That Was: Impressive Performances in Sonoma, Reading, and More

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Stephen King/IndyCar (1); Subaru Rally Team USA (2); Venturini Motorsports (3)

Did you have a hard time following along with all the action motorsports taking place this past weekend? With the IndyCar season finale, NHRA playoff opener, and penultimate rounds of the Formula Drift and ARA seasons all on the docket, just keeping up should have been a victory for most race fans. Here’s a look at the top performers from each event you might have wanted to watch:

Verizon IndyCar Series: Scott Dixon

Alexander Rossi’s heroic drive through the field after taking first-lap wing damage showed just how talented he is. He’ll win a title someday. But the consistent Dixon didn’t need any heroics on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway to win his fifth career IndyCar title, starting second and holding the spot pretty much all race long to bring the championship back to Chip Ganassi Racing. It may have been an anticlimactic finale in that regard, but the Iceman is good enough to make it look that easy.

NHRA: Steve Torrence

After finishing second in last year’s Top Fuel Countdown to the Championship, Torrence made one thing remarkably clear at Maple Grove Raceway: he’s not looking to make it two runner-up years in a row. Despite qualifying behind each of the first three drivers who trailed him in points coming into the weekend, it was Torrence who came out on top on Sunday, first beating Bill Litton and Mike Salinas before taking down title rivals Clay Millican and Tony Schumacher for the win.

ARA: Patrik Sandell/Per Almkvist

Putting a former Junior World Rally Champion in Subaru Rally Team USA’s “star car” has produced exactly the expected results both times it’s happened. Sandell won in his American stage rally debut at Olympus Rally in May, and went two for two after getting back in the car at Idaho Rally in the team’s first pass at the event. With dusty roads forcing a full five minutes between each pass, Sandell wasn’t held back by starting second on the road, and won five of the nine completed stages on the weekend.

WRC: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja

On a weekend where five-time defending WRC champion Sebastien Ogier and current points leader Thierry Neuville each suffered issues that kept them from scoring meaningful points, Tänak seized the opportunity to make the 2018 championship a true three-horse race at the revival of Rally Turkey. The brutal event claimed a number of cars, but Tänak’s Toyota Gazoo WRT Yaris held out for a 22.3-second win over teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. It allowed Tänak to climb to second in points, 13 behind Neuville.

Formula Drift: Piotr Wiecek

Last year’s top Formula Drift rookie proved that it’s not all about James Deane on the Worthouse Drift Team at Texas Motor Speedway. Wiecek qualified third for Saturday’s Throwdown, then beat Kevin Lawrence, took down Matt Field, held off Vaughn Gittin Jr., defeated Chelsea DeNofa, and outclassed his points-leading teammate on the way to his second career FD victory. Better yet for Wiecek, he enters next month’s season finale at Irwindale Speedway as the defending winner.

ARCA: Chandler Smith

For the third time in 2018, Venturini Motorsports driver Smith won a race from the pole after leading the most laps. This time, the sweep came at Salem Speedway, where Smith started first and led the most laps in April before teammate Christian Eckes scored the victory. But Smith was determined not to let this one slip from his grasp, and put on an absolute masterclass to do it: he led 199 of the 200 laps, including the one-lap shootout to the finish line after a late-race caution.

Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton

This had actually been a pretty exciting Formula 1 season through nine rounds, with Sebastian Vettel leading Hamilton by a single point after Hamilton’s DNF in Austria. Then the Mercedes driver showed the world why he’s won so many titles by stringing together a streak of 2-1-1-2-1-1 finishes, the latest being a win at the Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton won the pole and beat Max Verstappen to the finish line by 8.961 seconds, and now holds a 40-point lead over Vettel with six races remaining.

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