Dixon Wins Sonoma; Power Stumbles
Scott Dixon held off Ryan Hunter-Reay over the final three laps of Sunday’s IndyCar Series race at the Sonoma Raceway road course to get his second victory of the season.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet power Dallar, took the lead with four laps to go when he blew past leader Mike Conway and from drove fast enough to win by 1.2 seconds.
“It was tough because there were so many strategies going on and they were just slightly off and I didn’t know who could make it and who couldn’t,” Dixon said. “Conway I think pushed hard to start with but I think he had to save some fuel at the end.
“So excited man, this is big for our team. We have had a rats year so far but strategy was perfect, a bit mixed up but so happy. We have a huge amount of Target people here this weekend,robably about 400-500 people who are in turn seven, so a big shout out to them.”
Andretti Autosport’s Hunter-Reay was second and Simon Pagenaud was third.
Takuma Sato was fourth in the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing car while Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske was fifth.
Through the first 36 laps, points leader Will Power appeared ready to pocket his first championship as he did nothing but post big leads.
But on Lap 37, a caution flag waved and Power and most of the others at the front of the field pitted. Kanaan beat Power out of the pits to take the lead. Power was eighth on the restart.
Power, attempting to make up some ground, committed an unforced error when he spun out on the hairpin. A large group of cars moved past and Power found himself near the back of the field.
“It took me by surprise when I spun. That’s just racing,” Power said. “I would have liked to have had a better finish, but the Verizon Chevy team will look to Fontana working towards the championship.”
Power capitalized on late-race attrition and bashed his way to a 10th-place finish. He will head to the season finale next weekend in Fontana, Calif. with a 51-point lead over Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.
Simon Pagenaud will start Fontana – a double points event – 81 points back.
On the same restart, Conway blew past leader Kaanan. Once out front he flew to a huge lead.
Green flag stops began with about 25 laps to go. When the leaders cycled through, Conway had the lead but Rahal was right behind. Half a lap later, on Lap 64, Rahal eased past in Turn 7 to take the lead.
Rahal moved out to a lead of over a second, but having stopped in the pits two laps earlier than Conway, fuel became a huge issue.
The issue became terminal when Rahal was forced to pit with four laps to go. To compound his problem, he was penalized for speeding on pit road.
“Man,” Rahal said, “I don’t know when things are going to break for me. We’ll just have to keep working hard, keep our heads down. I think the car has some speed.”
Conway took over as leader – briefly – as Dixon streaked past a couple turns later. Conway ran out of fuel just before the finish line and wound up 14th.
Results Sunday of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon 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) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
2. (10) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
3. (15) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
4. (20) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
5. (19) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
6. (2) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
7. (12) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
8. (13) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
9. (16) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
10. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
11. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
12. (4) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
13. (8) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
14. (17) Mike Conway, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
15. (18) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
16. (22) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
17. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
18. (6) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
19. (9) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
20. (14) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
21. (11) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 84, Running
22. (21) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 28, Mechanical
Winners average speed: 94.026
Time of Race: 2:09:21.8064
Margin of victory: 1.1359 seconds
Cautions: 3 for 11 laps
Lead changes: 10 among 8 drivers
Point Standings: Power 626, Castroneves 575, Pagenaud 545, Hunter-Reay 534, Dixon 523, Montoya 519, Kanaan 443, Bourdais 437, Munoz 435, Andretti 424.No Comment