IZOD IndyCar Series - GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Preview

From The Sports Network

DATE: Sunday, August 26th
SITE: Sonoma Raceway (1968) -- Sonoma, California
TRACK: 2.31-mile, 12-turn road course
TELEVISION: NBC Sports Network
ANNOUNCERS: Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis, Wally Dallenbach
RADIO: IMS Radio Network/SIRIUS XM Satellite
START TIME: 4:30 p.m. (ET)
RUNNER-UP: Helio Castroneves
POLE WINNER: Will Power (Finished 1st)
LAPS: 85
MILES: 196.35
QUALIFYING RECORD: Will Power, 2010 (108.337 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Helio Castroneves, 2008 (100.254 m.p.h.)
2011 Finish
1Will Power16Sebastien Bourdais8
2Helio Castroneves27James Hinchcliffe6
3Ryan Briscoe38Graham Rahal13
4Dario Franchitti49E.J. Viso9
5Scott Dixon510Ryan Hunter-Reay19
2011 GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 96.408 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 1 hour, 47 minutes, 29.7619 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 3.2420 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 1 for 3 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 4 among 2 drivers
POLE WINNER: Will Power (105.479 m.p.h.)
FASTEST LAP: Will Power, 102.584 m.p.h., Lap 2
Past GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- Will Power (1st) -- Dallara-Honda -- 96.408 m.p.h.
2010 -- Will Power (1st) -- Dallara-Honda -- 92.063 m.p.h.
2009 -- Dario Franchitti (1st) -- Dallara-Honda -- 94.745 m.p.h.
2008 -- Helio Castroneves (1st) -- Dallara-Honda -- 100.254 m.p.h. (record)
2007 -- Scott Dixon (5th) -- Dallara-Honda -- 98.593 m.p.h.
2006 -- Marco Andretti (2nd) -- Dallara-Honda -- 93.486 m.p.h.
2005 -- Tony Kanaan (3rd) -- Dallara-Honda -- 91.040 m.p.h.
NOTE: Formerly called Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix (2005), Indy Grand Prix
of Sonoma (2006), Motorola Indy 300 (2007), PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil
Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County (2008).
Past GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Will Power -- 1st
2010 -- Will Power -- 1st
2009 -- Dario Franchitti -- 1st
2008 -- Helio Castroneves -- 1st
2007 -- Dario Franchitti -- 3rd
2006 -- Scott Dixon -- 4th
2005 -- Ryan Briscoe -- 19th
Last Race Results
RACE: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (August 5th)
SITE: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course -- Lexington, Ohio
MILES: 191.25
LAPS: 85
WINNER: Scott Dixon
RUNNER-UP: Will Power
THIRD: Simon Pagenaud
FOURTH: Sebastien Bourdais
FIFTH: James Hinchcliffe
POLE WINNER: Will Power (Finished 2nd)
TIME OF RACE: 1 hour, 39 minutes, 48.5083 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 3.4619 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 115.379 m.p.h.
LEAD CHANGES: 2 among 3 drivers
LAP LEADERS: Will Power 1-57; James Hinchcliffe 58-59; Scott Dixon 60-85.
GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Entry List
* - defending champion.
Leading Contenders (Finish last seven years)
Will Power---------25th---WonWon
Helio Castroneves21st5th2ndWon18th5th2nd
Ryan Briscoe19th16th---2nd2nd4th3rd
Dario Franchitti8th2nd3rd---Won3rd4th
Scott Dixon7th4thWon12th13th2nd5th
Sebastien Bourdais------------------6th
James Hinchcliffe------------------7th
Graham Rahal---------8th21st9th8th
Ryan Hunter-Reay------18th18th19th8th10th
Simon Pagenaud------------------15th
Alex Tagliani---------------14th20th
Marco Andretti---Won16th14th14th12th24th
Tony KanaanWon11th4th3rd8th7th28th
Justin Wilson---------9th7th6th---
Rubens Barrichello---------------------
Mover of the Week
Tony Kanaan - Started 18th on the grid and finished 6th
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Will Power
Darkhorse - Marco Andretti
Last Week's Pick to Win (Scott Dixon) - Finished 1st
Last Week's Darkhorse (Ryan Briscoe) - Finished 7th
With only three races remaining on the IndyCar Series schedule, this week's race in Sonoma will bring on some extra incentives as the season winds down.

Will Power holds a slim five-point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay, while Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon trail by 26 and 28 points respectively. Overall, there are 15 drivers who are still mathematically eligible for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. It's the most since 2000 when 24 drivers were still mathematically eligible to win the title with three races remaining in a nine- race season.

Speaking of Power, last year he won this race for the second consecutive season, as he led Team Penske to a 1-2-3 sweep by winning just ahead of teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe.

Power, who won the pole, quickly moved out to a solid one-second lead over Castroneves and Briscoe. The top-10 on the starting grid remained in the same order through the first 15 laps. But by lap 20, Power and Castroneves had opened up a seven-second lead over Briscoe.

Through the first round of pit stops and both Power and Castroneves continued to show the way. By lap 50 Power had built a four-second lead on Castroneves and double-digits on Briscoe and Dario Franchitti.

But things never go that easy and when Ho-Pin Tung crashed with nine laps remaining it set up a double-file restart where anything was possible. Unfortunately for Franchitti, Team Penske came through the lap 70 restart without a scratch and there was no passing from the top-five drivers the rest of the way.

After suffering through three straight races out of the top-10, Power has posted back-to-back top-3 finishes.

In 2010, he dominated this race in impressive fashion, as he led all but two of the 75 laps. One year after his serious crash at Sonoma nearly ended his IndyCar Series career, Power only relinquished the lead when he pitted the second and final time under the green flag. Scott Dixon came in for his stop two laps after Power, but the Aussie easily flew by Dixon after he exited the pits. Power, who started on the pole for the eighth time in 2010, had his 2009 season cut short at Sonoma, where he sustained multiple injuries during a practice crash. He suffered two broken vertebrae and a concussion when his car hit the stalled car of Nelson Philippe, who spun exiting the blind, downhill corner.

After placing second in 2007, pole sitter Helio Castroneves dominated the Grand Prix of Sonoma in 2008, as he led 51 of the 80 laps en route to his 13th career IndyCar victory. Castroneves led the final 22 laps, as he defeated Ryan Briscoe by 5.2926 seconds. With his win in 2008, Castroneves broke a 30-race winless streak.

In 2007, Scott Dixon reclaimed the lead on lap 73 of the 80-lap race and held on to edge Castroneves by less than a second for his 10th career win. Dixon crossed the finish line 0.5449 of a second ahead of Castroneves. Dixon's win total now stands at 28. Dario Franchitti, who started on the pole in 2007, finished third after leading a race-high 62 laps.

Marco Andretti edged Franchitti in 2006 by less than a second for his first career IndyCar title. In doing so, Andretti became the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history at nineteen-years-old. Pole sitter Scott Dixon led the first 28 laps until Dan Wheldon took over for the next 10. Dixon reclaimed the lead on lap 39 and held on until lap 51 when Andretti took over. With 15 laps to go, Andretti held 4.7784 seconds over Kanaan and five seconds over Danica Patrick both of whom were also in conservation mode. Following a caution, Andretti made a great start and with four laps to go held 0.9523 seconds advantage. Andretti continued to set the pace so the race came down to fuel mileage, as he held on for the win.

The IndyCar Series made its first appearance at Sonoma for the inaugural Grand Prix of Sonoma in 2005. Tony Kanaan came away with the win, as he edged Buddy Rice by 1.1826 seconds for his sixth career IndyCar win. Kanaan reclaimed the lead from Bryan Herta on lap 53 and held on the rest of the way for the first of two 2005 victories. Pole sitter Ryan Briscoe finished 19th due to an accident on the 20th lap with Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves.

Sonoma is located 30 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge and is at the gateway to Sonoma Wine Country. The road racing course and quarter-mile drag strip were constructed on 720 acres by Marin County owners Robert Marshall Jr., an attorney, and land developer Jim Coleman. Ground was broken in August and paving of the race surface was completed in November. The first official event was an SCCA Enduro on December 1, 1968. Sonoma is one of three permanent road course on the IndyCar schedule.

The pole sitter at Sonoma has captured the last four runnings of this race. In addition, all races have been won by the top five positions.

The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the September 2nd running of the Baltimore Grand Prix on the streets of Baltimore. Will Power won last year's inaugural race there.

08/21 13:22:17 ET

As of August 21, 2012, at 01:22 PM ET
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