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Power Cleared To Drive, Compete For Title

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 7 2016
Team Penske's Will Power will drive at Sonoma later this month it was announced on Wednesday. (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Team Penske’s Will Power will drive at Sonoma later this month it was announced on Tuesday. (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin/Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Will Power’s relentless pursuit of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series driver’s championship will continue at the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma later this month.

bugindynotesPower was cleared to drive Tuesday by Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director, after the Team Penske ace successfully passed concussion testing protocol.

Power was involved in a crash on Lap 39 of Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet made contact with the No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet driven by Charlie Kimball and veered into the Turn 5 barrier. Prior to the incident, the native Australian led two laps early-on in the 60-lapper. Power finished 20th in the 22-car field.

Power qualified second to record-setting pole-sitter Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing on WGI’s 3.37-mile/11-turn natural-terrain layout.

Power was assessed at the University of Miami (Fla.) Concussion Center under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Olvey, retired director of the Neuro-Critical Care Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Olvey also served for 25 years as director of medical affairs with Championship Auto Racing Teams. During his examination, Power passed both the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) and Vestibular/Ocular-Motor Screening (VOMS) exams.

“Will is doing fine,” Dr. Olvey said. “He flew down to the University of Miami Concussion Center and we conducted two sophisticated tests to determine if he’d suffered a concussion over the weekend, and he passed both of them with no issue whatsoever.”

The 2014 series champion, Power trails Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud by 43 points heading into the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend, Sept. 16-18, in Northern California. While the race will pay double-points to all competitors, only Pagenaud _ who started and finished seventh at WGI _ and Power are mathematically eligible for the championship.

It’s never great to hear any concerns on the head. Just glad he’s all right,” Pagenaud said of his teammate. “Yeah, just glad he’s all right because I want to take this fight to Sonoma. We’ve already wrapped up the championship _whether it’s Will or me winning _ it’s awesome that we could get it back for him (team-founder Roger Penske) on his 50th anniversary. I’m super-proud to be in this position. I’m super-proud to be part of this team.”

Pagenaud admitted he was points-racing at WGI in pursuit of what would be his first series championship. “I was basically racing Will as much as I could,” said Pagenaud, a native of France and driver of the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet. “My target was really him all day. I lost sight of him on that second stint and when the yellow came out I asked where he was. Then they told me that Will just crashed. At that point, I still had to race hard and collect as many points as possible.”

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Twenty-one drivers from eight Verizon IndyCar Series teams are scheduled to take part in the one-day test session at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday, Sept. 8, in preparation for the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. The list includes Nevada City, Calif., native and 2016 Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi. Three Indy Lights drivers (in parentheses) also will share the test in IndyCar Series cars:

_ A.J. Foyt Racing: Jack Hawksworth, Takuma Sato

_ Andretti Autosport: Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz, Alexander Rossi

_ Chip Ganassi Racing Teams: Max Chilton, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball

_ Dale Coyne Racing: Conor Daly, RC Enerson

_ Ed Carpenter Racing: Spencer Pigot (Rookie Test), Josef Newgarden, (Zach Veach)

_ Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal

_ Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: Mikhail Aleshin, (Andre Negrao), James Hinchcliffe, (Santiago Urrutia)

_Team Penske: Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power

Testing will run from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A press conference will be held during the lunch break and fans are invited to attend, pending space.

For the second consecutive year, the series championship will be decided on a road-course. Despite a 47-point deficit heading into the season-finale in 2015, Dixon held off season-long point-leader Montoya for the victory on Sonoma’s 2.38-mile/12-turn layout and his fourth series championship.

The win was Dixon’s second consecutive and third overall in Sonoma (2007, ‘14, ‘15) and the 38th of his IndyCar career. Dixon raised that total to 40 on Sunday, when he dominated the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International by leading 50 of 60 laps.

Tickets for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma are available by calling 800-870-RACE (7223) or visiting sonomaraceway.com/indycar. Tickets also can be purchased on-site at the test session. Packages include the Total Access pass, which includes a race-day reserved-seat ticket in any section and a Garage/Pit/Pre-race pass for 99.

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Buoyed by a top-10 finish at Watkins Glen, RC Enerson will conclude the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma for Dale Coyne Racing.

The 19-year-old Floridian, who started this season in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, started 11th finished ninth and on the lead-lap in Sunday’s INDCAR Grand Prix at The Glen. Enerson made his series debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in the team’s No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda on July 31. He finished 19th at Mid-Ohio.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 7 2016
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