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Power Wins Sonoma After Leader Dixon’s Penalized

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 25 2013

Will Power logged his first IndyCar victory of the season on Sunday.

Will Power capitalized on a bizarre pit road incident on the final green flag stop of the day and went on to win Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma IZOD IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California.

The victory was the first of the season for the Team Penske driver.

“We’ve had a lot of hard hits and I’m just happy for all the guys,” Power said. “It’s just phenomenal, it’s great for our confidence and we’re back in our winning ways.”

Power led Justin Wilson across the finish line by 1.1930 seconds.

“It is great to be back on the podium again with the Boy Scouts of America car,” Wilson said. “Everyone at Dale Coyne Racing has worked so hard to get a result. We’ve had some ups and downs this year, and have run some really good races but end up finishing eighth or tenth. So that was a little frustrating earlier this season, but 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.”

Verizon P1 Award winner Dario Franchitti, also seeking his first win of the season, finished third and Marco Andretti was fourth for his sixth consecutive top-10 finish.

The pit road incident occurred when Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who was leading the race, made contact with the right rear tire changer of Power’s team as Dixon exited his pit stall.

Dixon, who entered the race 31 points behind the front-running Helio Castroneves – Power’s teammate –  finished 15th after being penalized by INDYCAR Race Control for a pit safety infraction. Upon seeing replays that appeared to show the tire changer leisurely returning to the pit wall by a route which was well wide of his car, Dixon called the actions of the Penske team member, “a bit of a dick move.”

“Ultimately, we have a duty to protect everybody in the pit lane,” INDYCAR race director Beaux Barfield said. “If we have somebody who uses less than great judgement when they leave their pit box and we have an incident, then we have to make a statement by penalizing. And we’re going to make that call. There are a couple of different (video) angles, and clearly the 9 car crosses right into the 12 car’s space and that’s where the violation occurred. He was in the 12 car’s box for a good half-car length.”

Dixon didn’t agree.

“It’s probably the most blatant thing I’ve seen in a long time,” said Dixon, who started on the front row and was seeking his fourth victory in the past five races. “I had a straight line and he walked into us. Pretty annoyed with that; we had a strong car all day.”

Simon Pagenaud finished fifth and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is 62 points out of first place, was sixth. Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car, registered his 11th consecutive top-10 finish. Thirteen drivers remain in championship contention heading to the Sept. 1 Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT.

Power, who recorded his 19th career victory, said he “learned a lot about myself” during the drought (he had a best finish of third at Milwaukee this season) and being the championship runner-up the past three seasons.

“I just kept at it, and just stoked for all the guys that make this possible,” he said. “It’s great for our confidence and we’re back in our winning ways.”

Power said his winless streak was a learning experience.

I just think you start really looking close at your weaknesses,” he said. “My oval performance wasn’t very good. This year I definitely had to get points on ovals because we weren’t winning races on road courses. Also the mental aspect. I really believe it makes you stronger, having a year like this. You’ll come back next year a serious contender.”

Results Sunday of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.385 mile Sonoma Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

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

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 86.401

Time of Race: 02:20:46.8226

Margin of victory: 1.1930

Cautions: 21

Lead changes: 7

Lap Leaders:

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

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 25 2013
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