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IndyCar gets ready for GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma August 25


FAST FACTS:

GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

Race Broadcast

Sunday, Aug. 25

4 p.m. (ET)

NBC Sports Network

Qualifying Broadcast

Saturday, Aug. 24

9 p.m. (ET)

NBC Sports Network

Track

Sonoma Raceway

(12-turn, 2.385-mile road course)

Distance

85 laps/202.73 miles

Radio

IMS Radio Network XM 211/Sirius 211

2012 Race Winner

Ryan Briscoe

2012 Pole Sitter

Will Power

(1:17.2709,

111.116 mph)

Track Record

Will Power

(1:17.2709,

111.116 mph)

August 2012

First Indy car Race

4/7/1970

Story Ideas:

Castroneves aims to keep championship lead

Helio Castroneves took control of the IZOD IndyCar Series standings with his victory at Texas Motor Speedway in early June and carries a 31-point advantage into the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Castroneves, who has recorded 10 consecutive top-10 finishes, seeks his first victory at Sonoma since 2008. Will he able further extend his advantage in Sonoma?

Resurgent Ganassi team seeks another win

After winning the last four IZOD IndyCar Series races, Chip Ganassi Racing seeks to keep its successful run going at Sonoma Raceway. Charlie Kimball rides the momentum of his first win at Mid-Ohio, while Scott Dixon – who has won three IZOD IndyCar Series races – hopes to continue his march up the standings. 2009 Sonoma winner Dario Franchitti has regained his top form with four top-four finishes (third, third, fourth and third) in the last four races. Can one of the Ganassi drivers win for the fifth consecutive event?

Who will win in Wine Country?

The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma has featured seven different winners since the series’ first visit to Sonoma Raceway: Tony Kanaan, 2005; Marco Andretti, 2006; Scott Dixon, 2007; Helio Castroneves, 2008; Dario Franchitti, 2009; Will Power, 2010-11 and Ryan Briscoe, 2012. Can one of these drivers join Power as a repeat winner in Sonoma or will another new face find their way to Wine Country Winner’s Circle?

Power close but not close enough

Will Power, who has won the last three poles at Sonoma Raceway, is seeking his first victory of the season. Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, totaled 14 victories the past three seasons in finishing as the IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up each year. Can the Australian, who is the only driver to visit Wine Country Winner’s Circle at Sonoma more than once, find his way to there again?

Toasting Team Penske’s success

Team Penske looks to add to its dominance at Sonoma Raceway. The team has won four of the last five races at the track and won the pole position five times. Will Penske’s duo of Will Power and Helio Castroneves provide team owner Roger Penske more hardware this weekend?

Hometown racer Hildebrand returns

Sausalito native JR Hildebrand will make his fourth Indy car start at his home track, returning to the series with Barracuda Racing. Hildebrand, a former winner at Sonoma Raceway in Firestone Indy Lights, began his career racing go-karts at Sonoma. Can he score another home win in front of his friends and family?

Andretti family legacy

The Andretti name has been a major part of auto racing history and the latest generation of the famed family hopes to recapture his success in Sonoma. Marco Andretti, whose grandfather Mario finished second in the first Indy car race at the track, returns to the site his first Indy car win. Can Marco, who also won at the track in Firestone Indy Lights, regain his winning form on the Sonoma circuit and help his father Michael score his third win at the track as an owner?

Can Briscoe break through?

Ryan Briscoe hopes his past success at Sonoma can lead him back to Wine Country Winner’s Circle. The Australian won his first IZOD IndyCar Series pole at Infineon Raceway in 2005 and has finished on the podium at the track four of the last five years, including his win in 2012. Can Briscoe bring Panther Racing back to Wine Country Winner’s Circle in Sonoma?

Manufacturer’s title still up for grabs

The tight competition of the IZOD IndyCar Series isn’t exclusive to the drivers’ championship. Engine manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda are tied in the manufacturer standings with five races left. Both manufacturers have seven victories, but Honda has won the last four races. Chevrolet, which has nine poles this season, won the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma in 2012 with Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske to clinch the 2012 manufacturer’s crown. Who will get the upper hand at Sonoma?

Luhr set to debut

Sports car ace Lucas Luhr will make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut at Sonoma Raceway in a car fielded by Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in partnership with RW Motorsports.  The 34-year-old German is a past winner at Sonoma in American Le Mans Series competition but hasn’t raced an open-wheel car since he raced in German F3 in 1998. How will Luhr fare in his return to the seat of an open-wheel race car?

Race Notes:

  • The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 10th Indy car race at Sonoma Raceway and the ninth IZOD IndyCar Series event. Ryan Briscoe is the defending race winner and Will Power has won the last three pole positions. This will be the second race on the 12-turn 2.385-mile layout. The IZOD IndyCar Series competed on the 12-turn, 2.303-mile layout from 2005-2011.
  • USAC held an Indy car race in Sonoma in 1970. Dan Gurney won the race.
  • Will Power is the only driver to win at Sonoma more than once, winning the races in 2010 and 2011. Past winners Power, Ryan Briscoe (2012), Dario Franchitti (2009), Helio Castroneves (2008), Scott Dixon (2007), Marco Andretti (2006) and Tony Kanaan (2005) are entered in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
  • There have been five different pole winners in the previous eight IZOD IndyCar Series races at Sonoma. Ryan Briscoe (2005), Scott Dixon (2006), Dario Franchitti (2007, 2009), Helio Castroneves (2008) and Will Power (2010-12). All are entered at Sonoma this weekend.
  • Three drivers have won the race from the pole – Helio Castroneves (2008), Dario Franchitti (2009) and Will Power (2010-11).
  • Three drivers have competed in every IZOD IndyCar Series race at Sonoma – Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Dixon is the only driver to complete every lap of every race at Sonoma.
  • At least two drivers entered in the event – Lucas Luhr and Tristan Vautier – will make their first attempt to start an IZOD IndyCar Series race at Sonoma.
  • Team Penske has won at Sonoma four times, including the last three races with Will Power (2010-11) and Ryan Briscoe (2012). Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport have each won twice at Sonoma.

Championship Facts:

· Helio Castroneves leads the IZOD IndyCar Series championship with five races to go for the first time in his career. Castroneves has been in contention for the series title in four of the last five years.

· Castroneves leads Scott Dixon by 31 points – it is his second-largest lead of the season. He led Ryan Hunter-Reay by 39 points following Toronto1.

· There are 20 drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship. Any driver who trails the leader by 217 points or more following Sonoma will be eliminated from championship contention.

· Sonoma will host its ninth IZOD IndyCar Series event. The winning driver at Sonoma has won the championship once in the prior seven races (Dario Franchitti, 2009).

· Since 1993, five drivers have won the 15th event of the season and the championship in the same year: Dario Franchitti (Chicagoland, 2010; Sonoma, 2009); Scott Dixon (Kentucky, 2008); Sam Hornish Jr. (Chicagoland, 2002); Juan Pablo Montoya (Chicago, 1999) and Nigel Mansell (Nazareth, 1993).

Season to Date:

  • Charlie Kimball won his first Indy car race in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. He was the 210th driver to win an Indy car race and the fourth first-time winner in 2013.
  • Scott Dixon swept the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader to become the active leader in wins. The wins were his 31st and 32nd of his Indy car career.
  • Scott Dixon led the first podium sweep for Chip Ganassi Racing when he won the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco. It was his first win of 2013 and the 30th of his Indy car career.
  • Marco Andretti won his second pole position of 2013 at Pocono. It was his fourth career pole position.
  • James Hinchcliffe won the Iowa Corn Indy 250. It was his third win of 2013 and the fourth straight win at Iowa for Andretti Autosport. Helio Castroneves won qualifying heat No. 3 to secure his first pole of the season.
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Milwaukee IndyFest for the second consecutive year. It was Hunter-Reay’s second win of 2013 and the fourth for Andretti Autosport in 2013.
  • Helio Castroneves won his 28th Indy car race in the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.
  • Will Power won his 31st career Indy car pole at Texas.
  • Mike Conway and Simon Pagenaud split the winsin the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit. It was Conway’s second Indy car win and Pagenaud’s first Indy car victory.
  • Tony Kanaan won the 97th Indianapolis 500 to record his 16th Indy car victory.
  • Ed Carpenter won his first pole position since 2010 at Kentucky when he won the pole for the 97th Indianapolis 500.
  • There were a race-record 14 leaders and race-record 68 lead changes at Indianapolis.
  • James Hinchcliffe won the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 with a last-lap, last-turn pass of Takuma Sato. It was his second win of 2013 and the third win in four races for Andretti Autosport.
  • Takuma Sato won his first Indy car race in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He was the 208th driver to win an Indy car race and first Japanese driver to win. It was A.J. Foyt’s first win as a car owner since 2002.
  • Dario Franchitti won his 30th career Indy car pole at Long Beach.
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay won his 10th Indy car race in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park from the pole position. It was the second time he had won a race from pole.
  • James Hinchcliffe won the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It was the first win of his Indy car career. He was the 207th driver to win an Indy car race.
  • Will Power won his 30th career Indy car pole at St. Petersburg.
  • Tristan Vautier started his first career IZOD IndyCar Series race at St. Petersburg.

Milestones & Records:

  • Should Dario Franchitti win the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship, he will join A.J. Foyt as the only drivers to win at least five Indy car titles in their career. Franchitti won the title in 2007 and again from 2009-2011. Foyt won seven championships in his career.
  • Scott Dixon moved into sole possession of seventh  place on the all-time wins list with his wins at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Dixon won his 31st and 32nd race to pass Sebastien Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy.
  • With their next victory, either Dario Franchitti or Sebastien Bourdais will move into a tie for seventh place with Scott Dixon on the all-time wins list if Dixon does not win before they do. Franchitti and Bourdais are tied with Paul Tracy with 31 wins for eighth.
  • Scott Dixon extended his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to nine with his win at Pocono Raceway.
  • Helio Castroneves moved into sole possession of 11th place on the all-time victory list with his win at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. Castroneves won his 28th race to break a tie with Johnny Rutherford.
  • Helio Castroneves needs two earned poles to reach 40 in his Indy car career after he won the Verizon P1 Award at Iowa Speedway.
  • Will Power recorded the 30th pole of his Indy car career at St. Petersburg and his 31st pole position at Texas.
  • Dario Franchitti recorded the 32nd pole of his Indy car career at Toronto 1.
  • Scott Dixon needs one earned pole to reach 20 in his Indy car career.
  • With his pole at Toronto 2, Scott Dixon extended his IZOD IndyCar Series streak to eight  consecutive seasons.
  • Scott Dixon’s second-place finish at Barber was the 30th of his Indy car career. It tied Helio Castroneves, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Jr., and Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time list.
  • Dario Franchitti is the active leader in top-five finishes with 118, which is seventh on the all-time list. Franchitti finished third at Mid-Ohio.
  • Helio Castroneves tied Rick Mears for ninth on the all-time list by recording the 111th top-five finish of his Indy car career at Toronto 2.
  • Tony Kanaan will attempt to make his 211th consecutive start, which will tie Jimmy Vasser’s all-time record of 211. Scott Dixon with 152 straight starts, Marco Andretti with 128 straight starts and Ryan Hunter-Reay with 103 straight starts are the only other active driver with a streak of 100 consecutive starts or more.

At-Track Schedule (all times local):

Friday, Aug. 23

11-11:45 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series practice (all cars)

2 -2:45 p.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series practice (all cars)

Saturday, Aug. 24

11-11:45 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series practice (all cars)

2:30 – 3:40 p.m. – GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma qualifying for Verizon P1 Award. (Knockout qualifying/Firestone Fast Six)

Sunday, Aug. 25

10:05- 10:35 a.m. – IZOD IndyCar Series warmup

1:33 p.m. – GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (85 laps/202.73 miles), NBC Sports Network (Live)

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF INDYCAR COMMUNICATIONS

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