Sonoma weekend report

How it started…

 

Points standings

Position Driver Points
1 Will Power 602
2 Helio Castroneves 563
3 Simon Pagenaud 510
4 Ryan Hunter-Reay 494
5 Juan Pablo Montoya 488
6 Scott Dixon 472
7 Tony Kanaan 425
8 Carlos Munoz 424
9 Sebastien Bourdais 418
10 Marco Andretti 400
11 Ryan Briscoe 396
12 James Hinchcliffe 377
13 Charlie Kimball 357
14 Justin Wilson 339
15 Mikhail Aleshin (R) 338
16 Josef Newgarden 337
17 Jack Hawksworth (R) 321
18 Graham Rahal 312
19 Carlos Huertas (R) 288
20 Takuma Sato 261
21 Sebastian Saavedra 251
22 Mike Conway 235
23 Ed Carpenter 191
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch (R) 80
26 JR Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam (R) 57
28 Luca Filippi (R) 46
29 James Davison (R) 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman (R) 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8

 

Starting grid

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

 

…how it ended…

 

Race results

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

 

Points standings

Position Driver Points
1 Will Power 626
2 Helio Castroneves 575
3 Simon Pagenaud 545
4 Ryan Hunter-Reay 534
5 Scott Dixon 523
6 Juan Pablo Montoya 519
7 Tony Kanaan 433
8 Sebastien Bourdais 437
9 Carlos Munoz 435
10 Marco Andretti 424
11 Ryan Briscoe 409
12 James Hinchcliffe 377
13 Josef Newgarden 366
14 Charlie Kimball 366
15 Mikhail Aleshin (R) 364
16 Justin Wilson 361
17 Jack Hawksworth (R) 336
18 Graham Rahal 323
19 Carlos Huertas (R) 296
20 Takuma Sato 294
21 Sebastian Saavedra 265
22 Mike Conway 252
23 Ed Carpenter 191
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch (R) 80
26 JR Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam (R) 57
28 Luca Filippi (R) 46
29 James Davison (R) 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman (R) 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8

 

…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.