Chevrolet takes Manufacturers Championship
It looked as though Will Power was going to make it three in a row as he took the pole starting position at the GoPro IndyCar race at the Raceway of Sonoma on Sunday. He charged over the start in the lead and you could almost hear the crowd sigh with disappointment that today would not turn into much of a race. Turned out they were wrong as the race had its share of interesting events.
On that first lap crowd favorite and “Dancing With the Stars” participant Helio Castroneves received a penalty for running into the back of Scott Dixon. Later Dixon broke his front wing, much needed for down force and speed, running into Ryan Hunter-Reay. Then later in the race Hunter-Reay had a shunt with Alex Tagliani and spun, dropping him well back in the pack.
As the season runs down to the last two races Power leads the Driver’s Championship with a 36-point lead over Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay finished a disappointing 18th following a penalty for running into the back of EJ Viso.
All of this bumping was in part caused by the reconfiguration of the race track to make more areas for passing to make the race for exciting. That mission was accomplished although a number of the drivers were not so happy with their individual outcome. All the drivers complemented the Sonoma Raceway officials for making the changes, with heavy input from the drivers.
Ryan Briscoe led his teammate, Power through the 12 turn race course during the last laps following a number of caution yellow flags that bunched the pack. Not only did that make for some exciting last minute racing, it also proved to bring about a bit of bumping and sliding. Not something the drivers wanted with their delicate cars.
Heavily penalized Castroneves dropped from forth place all the way back to 21st for unavoidable contact early in the race. However, when the checkered flag dropped he had fought his way all the way to an eighth place finish.
The most dramatic and tense crash came about with just 20 laps to go of the 85 lap race. Sebastien Bourdais, who was running a strong third, was battling for track position with Josef Newgarden into the reconfigured turn seven Bourdais got out of position causing him to run off track, through the dirt then back on the course looking as though he would pull it out and continue his charge. Unfortunately, Newgarden could not maneuver around this last move of Bourdais and they collided. Newgarden hit the tire barrier hard, spun then was hit a second time by Bourdais. Both drivers walked away but the cars were a rumpled mess and Bourdais lost his third place.
Following the long caution period for the Bourdais/Newgarden incident The dash for the finish saw Power trying hard to get under Briscoe a couple of times through the new passing zones to no avail. Briscoe held him off to win his first top finish this year. Power was second and Dario Franchitti held onto third.
This was the first year for Chevrolet joining the ranks with Honda in providing engines for the teams. Turns out it was a good year as they clinched the Manufacturer’s Championship with the Briscoe and Power finishing one/two at the GoPro IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway.