GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Race Preview

2016-sonoma-race16“It’s tough to leave my newborn son and family this weekend, but Sonoma is certainly one of the highlights on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. From a competition standpoint, we have finished runner-up the last two years here, so we’re really working hard to get that breakthrough win. We just completed a very encouraging test where we led the A.M., P.M. and overall sessions. Hopefully we can translate that speed to the race weekend. DHL, AutoNation, Honda and all of our partners deserve a win before the season is over and we’re determined to get that done.”

Fast Facts

Track: Sonoma Raceway, a 2.385-mile permanent road course in Sonoma, Calif.

Race distance: 85 laps / 202.7 miles

Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 15 seconds each

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary and three sets alternate for use through the weekend

Twitter: @RaceSonoma, @IndyCar, #IndyCar, #GoProGP

Event website: http://RaceSonoma.com/

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2015 race winner: Scott Dixon

2015 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power, 1 minute, 16.2597 seconds, 112.589 mph

One-lap qualifying record: Will Power, 1:16.2597, 112.589 mph, Aug. 29, 2015 (set in Round 3 of qualifying)

NBCSN telecasts: Practice 3, 5 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 17 (tape); Qualifying, 6 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 17 (live); Race, 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 18 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for NBCSN alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Michael Young reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying is broadcast on Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video streaming: All weekend practice sessions (2 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. ET Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday) will be available live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. The module includes live timing and scoring.

INDYCAR Mobile app: Verizon’s INDYCAR Mobile app has been enhanced with new features to keep fans in the know of the latest race-day action. Exclusive features of the INDYCAR Mobile app for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and includes enhanced real-time leaderboard and car telemetry; the ability to follow the race in real time with the interactive 3D track; live in-car camera video streaming for select drivers during Verizon IndyCar Series races; live driver and pit crew radio transmissions during races and live Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network audio streaming during all track activities.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, Sept. 16
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com
2:45 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com

Saturday, Sept. 17
11:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live), NBCSN at 2 p.m. PT (tape)
3:05 – 4:20 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (live)

Sunday, Sept. 18
11:30 a.m. – noon – Verizon IndyCar Series warmup, RaceControl.IndyCar.com
3:10 p.m. – Driver introductions
3:30 p.m. – NBCSN on air
3:43 p.m. – Start engines command
3:50 p.m. – GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (85 laps/202.7 miles), NBCSN (live)

Championship facts:

  • Simon Pagenaud leads the Indy car championship with one race remaining for the first time in his career. He trailed Will Power by 92 points with one race remaining in the 2014 season in the only other time he went into the finale with a chance to win the title.
  • Simon Pagenaud leads Will Power by 43 points. Pagenaud has led the championship since Round 2 of the season at Phoenix International Raceway in April.
  • There are two drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship: Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. Power previously won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 2014. Pagenaud has never won the championship.
  • This is the 11th consecutive year that the Verizon IndyCar Series champion will be determined at the final race of the season.
  • Seven drivers – Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz – were eliminated from championship contention at Watkins Glen International on Sept. 4.
  • This is the 13th Indy car race at Sonoma. The winning driver at Sonoma has won the championship twice in the prior 12 races (Dario Franchitti in 2009, Scott Dixon in 2015). Dixon trailed Juan Pablo Montoya by 47 points heading into the 2015 finale, but won the double-points Sonoma race while Montoya finished sixth. The two finished tied in points, but Dixon won the championship by virtue of the first tiebreaker for most wins in the season (Dixon’s three to Montoya’s two).

Race notes:

  • There have been eight different winners in the 15 previous Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2016: Juan Pablo Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Phoenix International Raceway and Watkins Glen International), Simon Pagenaud (Streets of Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park, Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course), Alexander Rossi (Indianapolis 500), Sebastien Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle-1), Will Power (Raceway at Belle Isle-2, Road America, Toronto and Pocono), Josef Newgarden (Iowa Speedway) and Graham Rahal (Texas Motor Speedway). Dixon’s win at Watkins Glen on Sept. 4 gave him sole possession of fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 40. He is the active leader in wins. Bourdais’ win at Belle Isle on June 4 tied him with Bobby Unser for sixth on the all-time list with 35 wins. Power’s win at Pocono on Aug. 22 tied him with Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves for 11th all-time with 29.
  • The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 11th road/street course race of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule with five drivers winning the previous 10 races: Juan Pablo Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg), Simon Pagenaud (Streets of Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park, Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course), Sebastien Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1), Will Power (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2, Road America and Toronto) and Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen International).
  • The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 13th Indy car race at Sonoma Raceway. Scott Dixon is the two-time defending race winner. This will be the fifth race on the 12-turn, 2.385-mile layout. The Verizon IndyCar Series competed on a 12-turn, 2.303-mile layout from 2005-2011.
  • Will Power and Scott Dixon are the only drivers to win at Sonoma more than once. Dixon won the race in 2007, 2014 and 2015, Power won in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Past winners Dixon, Power, Tony Kanaan (2005), Marco Andretti (2006) and Helio Castroneves (2008) are entered in this year’s race.
  • Will Power has won five of the last six pole positions at Sonoma (2010-12 and 2014-15). Other past pole winners entered this weekend are Scott Dixon (2006) and Helio Castroneves (2008). Three drivers have won the race from the pole: Castroneves (2008), Dario Franchitti (2009) and Power (2010-11).
  • Three drivers have competed in every race at Sonoma since Indy cars returned to the track in 2005: Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Dixon is the only driver to complete every lap in those 11 races.
  • Will Power has three wins and five poles in his six previous starts at Sonoma.
  • Team Penske has won at Sonoma five times, including four of the last six races with Will Power (2010-11 and 2013) and Ryan Briscoe (2012). Chip Ganassi Racing has won four times at Sonoma (Scott Dixon in 2007, 2014-15 and Dario Franchitti in 2009) and Andretti Autosport has won twice (Tony Kanaan in 2005 and Marco Andretti in 2006).
  • Five rookies – Max Chilton, Conor Daly, RC Enerson, Spencer Pigot and Alexander Rossi – are entered. Rossi leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 75 points over Daly. They are the only drivers still in contention for top series rookie honors.
  • Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 265th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 206 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.
  • Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 327th career Indy car start, which ranks fourth on the all-time list. Tony Kanaan will attempt to make his 326th Indy car start, which is fifth all-time. Charlie Kimball looks to make his 100th career start this weekend.
  • The 2016 season is the second in which aerodynamic bodywork component kits are used on all Verizon IndyCar Series cars. The aero kits, produced by engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda for their respective supplied teams, are the latest technical innovation to enhance on-track performance through competitive aerodynamic development. Each manufacturer produces two kits for teams – one for short ovals/road courses/street courses and another for superspeedway ovals – but within each kit, teams have multiple component options available.
  • The second season of aero kit competition complements the fifth year of engine manufacturer competition between Chevrolet and Honda with their 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. It will be another season testing speed and durability to determine the manufacturer champion. Chevrolet, which has won four straight manufacturers’ titles, leads Honda by 71 points heading into the 2016 finale at Sonoma.
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