The IndyCar championship has taken another turn after today’s eventful and controversial Go Pro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway. Scott Dixon had the dominant car for most of the day and until the final pit stop under caution had the race in the bag. As he was pulling out of his pit box, Will Power’s rear tire carrier and Dixon’s #9 Target car collided, knocking him to the ground. Nobody was injured.
As the race went green, Dixon was assessed a penalty for a safety violation and Power led the final 12 laps and held off Justin Wilson with a restart with 4 laps to go to take his first win since Sao Paulo last season, the longest dry spell of his career.
“We’ve had a lot of hard hits and I’m just happy for all the guys,” said Power. “It’s just phenomenal, it’s great for our confidence and we’re back in our winning ways.”
Dixon did not take the penalty with good humor, however. He voiced his displeasure in a post race interview stating both that race control is inconsistent and that Power’s crew deliberately got in the way.
Wilson’s 2nd place run is a nice recovery from a spin earlier on lap 7. The Dale Coyne Racing team caught some lucky breaks with some yellow flags to stay in contention and collect his 3rd podium of the season.
“We’ve had some ups and downs this year, and have run some really good races but end up finishing eighth or tenth,” said Wilson. “It is nice to get back up here and turn it around a little bit. I was battling hard at the end, there were some close calls out there. I think everyone seemed to come in here with a little bit of frustration and decided to take it out in this race, so it was busy out there.”
Finishing in 3rd was Dario Franchitti, who was frustrated at both the call on Dixon and the way that Power raced him. He noted 1 restart in particular: “We had that one restart where I went up to turn two there, got upside of Will, that’s when he drove me off the track,” he said.
The race was slowed 7 times by caution flags, a race record for Sonoma. The race was also a huge contrast from most races at Sonoma which have been notorious for a lack of passing.
Points leader Helio Castroneves now has a 39 points lead over Dixon heading into Baltimore after finishing in 7th place. Fellow contenders Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti finished in 6th and 4th and are 62 and 70 points behind respectively.
IndyCar debutant Lucas Luhr had his day cut short with a few laps to go when his engine expired on his #97 Sarah Fisher Hartman machine.
“Well first of all I have to say it was a shame that we couldn’t finish it because I think we had maybe a top-14 or 15 finish in it,” said Luhr. “Towards the end of the race, I was getting quicker and I just had a lot of fun and I enjoyed it a lot. I think we’ve been more competitive in the race that we have all weekend long, and that to me shows that the learning curve is going in the right direction. It’s a shame for the guys and RW and SFHR that we couldn’t finish the race, but that’s racing.”
1. (3) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
2. (7) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
3. (1) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
4. (11) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
5. (10) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
6. (4) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
7. (5) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
8. (9) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
9. (22) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
10. (12) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
11. (8) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
12. (14) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
13. (16) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
14. (15) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
15. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
16. (18) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
17. (21) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
18. (25) James Davison, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
19. (23) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 84, Running
20. (6) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 83, Runnin
21. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 81, Contact
22. (24) Lucas Luhr, Dallara-Honda, 81, Mechanical
23. (13) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 67, Mechanical
24. (17) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 56, Mechanical
25. (19) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 28, Mechanical
Winners average speed: 86.401
Time of Race: 02:20:46.8226
Margin of victory: 1.1930
Lead changes: 7
Franchitti 1 – 17
Hunter-Reay 18 – 23
Wilson 24 – 33
Dixon 34 – 45
Kanaan 46 – 50
Hinchcliffe 51 – 54
Dixon 55 – 69
Power 70 – 85
Point Standings: Castroneves 479, Dixon 440, Hunter-Reay 417, Andretti 409, Pagenaud 380, Franchitti 379, Wilson 361, Power 356, Hinchcliffe 350, Kimball 335