By: Spencer Neff
September 22, 2019 | 8:29 AM
It all comes down to this. This afternoon, the NTT IndyCar Series will close out the 2019 season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
For the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course in Salinas, California, it will be their first race since 2004 and their first time hosting the season finale since 1996.
Before the green flag drops for the 90-lap Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, here is the latest from the weekend so far.
As four of the five drivers behind him are fighting it out for the season championship, Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta looks to win a title of his own.
He entered the weekend 49 points behind Felix Rosenqvist for the Rookie of the Year title, and on Sunday, Herta will go for his second win of 2019. In 1998 and 1999, Herta’s father Bryan also won from the pole at Laguna Seca.
On Saturday, the Valencia, California-native won his third pole of 2019 and his second straight. On Friday morning, he kicked off the weekend by leading the opening practice – and Herta was quickest in Thursday testing.
On Saturday morning, Rosenqvist led the final practice.
Yesterday afternoon, Herta was confirmed for the fifth Andretti Autosport entry in 2020. On Friday afternoon, Herta’s future teammate Hunter-Reay topped second practice.
In addition to Herta and Rosenqvist, Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci will also look to wrap up the Rooke of the Year crown, as the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year is just 26 points behind Rosenqvist.
Alongside Herta on the front row will be Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, one of four drivers (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais) to have run here previously. As he looks for his second straight title and sixth overall, Dixon is 85 points back.
On the second row, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi will look to earn his first career title. To his outside will be points leader Josef Newgarden. Coming into the race, Newgarden holds a 41-point lead over Rossi.
In Row 3, Newgarden’s teammate Simon Pagenaud lines up sixth beside Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe. For Newgarden and Pagenaud, another title would be their second in less than five years – Pagenaud in 2016 and Newgarden in 2017.
For Herta or Rossi, as well as Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot and Carlin Racing’s Charlie Kimball, a win today would put them in company with Jimmy Vasser. In 1997, Vasser became the first and only California-born driver to date to win at Laguna Seca.
Race Day Info
This afternoon’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey race broadcast will begin with pre-race coverage at 2:30 PM Eastern on NBC.
At 3:08, the command to start engines will be given, The expected green flag time is at 3:15 PM Eastern.
Timing and scoring, as well as commentary from the IndyCar Radio Network, can be found by visiting RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Radio coverage can also be found on Sirius 98 and XM 205.
Additionally, look for information on tire strategies courtesy of Firestone here. Starting tire choices are listed in the starting line-up linked above.
During today’s on-track action, join us on Twitter as well. We will be online during the day with insight on all the latest developments.
Header image by Chris Jones/INDYCAR