Sonoma weekend report

How it started…

 

Points standings

PositionDriverPoints
1Will Power602
2Helio Castroneves563
3Simon Pagenaud510
4Ryan Hunter-Reay494
5Juan Pablo Montoya488
6Scott Dixon472
7Tony Kanaan425
8Carlos Munoz424
9Sebastien Bourdais418
10Marco Andretti400
11Ryan Briscoe396
12James Hinchcliffe377
13Charlie Kimball357
14Justin Wilson339
15Mikhail Aleshin (R)338
16Josef Newgarden337
17Jack Hawksworth (R)321
18Graham Rahal312
19Carlos Huertas (R)288
20Takuma Sato261
21Sebastian Saavedra251
22Mike Conway235
23Ed Carpenter191
24Oriol Servia88
25Kurt Busch (R)80
26JR Hildebrand66
27Sage Karam (R)57
28Luca Filippi (R)46
29James Davison (R)34
30Jacques Villeneuve29
31Alex Tagliani28
32Townsend Bell22
33Pippa Mann21
34Martin Plowman (R)18
35Buddy Lazier11
36Franck Montagny8

 

Starting grid

PositionDriver
1Will Power
2Josef Newgarden
3Scott Dixon
4James Hinchcliffe
5Ryan Briscoe
6Helio Castroneves
7Sebastien Bourdais
8Tony Kanaan
9Carlos Munoz
10Ryan Hunter-Reay
11Charlie Kimball
12Mikhail Aleshin
13Marco Andretti
14Graham Rahal
15Simon Pagenaud
16Justin Wilson
17Mike Conway
18Jack Hawksworth
19Juan Pablo Montoya
20Takuma Sato
21Carlos Huertas
22Sebastian Saavedra

 

…how it ended…

 

Race results

PositionDriver
1Scott Dixon
2Ryan Hunter-Reay
3Simon Pagenaud
4Takuma Sato
5Juan Pablo Montoya
6Josef Newgarden
7Mikhail Aleshin
8Marco Andretti
9Justin Wilson
10Will Power
11Sebastien Bourdais
12James Hinchcliffe
13Tony Kanaan
14Mike Conway
15Jack Hawksworth
16Sebastian Saavedra
17Ryan Briscoe
18Helio Castroneves
19Carlos Munoz
20Graham Rahal
21Charlie Kimball
22Carlos Huertas

 

Points standings

PositionDriverPoints
1Will Power626
2Helio Castroneves575
3Simon Pagenaud545
4Ryan Hunter-Reay534
5Scott Dixon523
6Juan Pablo Montoya519
7Tony Kanaan433
8Sebastien Bourdais437
9Carlos Munoz435
10Marco Andretti424
11Ryan Briscoe409
12James Hinchcliffe377
13Josef Newgarden366
14Charlie Kimball366
15Mikhail Aleshin (R)364
16Justin Wilson361
17Jack Hawksworth (R)336
18Graham Rahal323
19Carlos Huertas (R)296
20Takuma Sato294
21Sebastian Saavedra265
22Mike Conway252
23Ed Carpenter191
24Oriol Servia88
25Kurt Busch (R)80
26JR Hildebrand66
27Sage Karam (R)57
28Luca Filippi (R)46
29James Davison (R)34
30Jacques Villeneuve29
31Alex Tagliani28
32Townsend Bell22
33Pippa Mann21
34Martin Plowman (R)18
35Buddy Lazier11
36Franck Montagny8

 

…and all the stuff in between…

Simon’s Sad Saturday: Sitting third in the championship as the day started, Simon spent much of both practices sitting in the pits. His crew tinkered at both ends of his car and they just could not get handling and braking to suit Simon at Sonoma. He ended up qualifying 15th, with Helio Castroneves 6th and Will Power on the pole. Since starting position is everything here (no one’s won starting farther back than 5th), things didn’t look great for Simon’s chances after this sorry day.

SHAKEOUT 6.0: About 3:20 a.m. on race day, we all got a specially prepared wake-up call from mama nature and a little-known earthquake fault under Napa (one town east of Sonoma). For more about the aftermath of the quake, I recommend the bay area’s award-winning CBS affiliate, KCBS AM/FM.

Sloppy start: Climbing the hill from Turn 1 to 2 on the first lap, the field sprayed out across the track and runoff like fireworks exploding. Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe got together, leaving Hinch behind and causing Helio Castroneves and Sebastien Bourdais to scatter

Spinapalooza: At one point or another, we saw Sebastian Saavedra, Will Power, Helio, Juan Pablo Montoya, Carlos Huertas (and probably others I missed) spin, run off, cut the chicane, etc. After dominating the race early, Power found himself in the back quarter of the field, right behind his teammate and championship competitor Helio.

‘scuse me, coming through: On the lap 40 restart, Mike Conway decided someone else needed to lead some laps during this race, and he muscled his way to the front. The road course specialist impressed but did not surprise anyone with his move. Taking a page from Conway’s book, Graham Rahal passed the #20 machine on lap 64. Great stuff from the young American, but there was this small issue of low fuel that kept him from winning the race…

Scottied: Rahal had to stop for fuel, Conway was trying to to stretch his, and with three to go, Scott Dixon grabbed the lead and did what we’ve seen him do so many times: won the race.

Surprising: What looked in the early stages like a race that would solidify Will Power’s grasp on the championship turned out to keep the door open for Helio, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay. It won’t be easy, but things could have looked a lot worse for them if Power had led pole to finish like it looked like he might.

Sweeeeeeet!: Talk about a turnaround – Simon’s Sad Saturday was followed by a sweet sweet Sunday with a third place finish. He was playing the same fuel game as Mike Conway but managed to finish the race before the fuel ran out. It definitely turned frowns upside down in the #77 pits.

 

 

 

 

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