SONOMA, Calif. – The Verizon IndyCar Series’ season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), will have one additional wrinkle going into it.
Team Penske has made a last-minute crew swap between its No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, for Josef Newgarden and Will Power, who will start on the front row of the race.
The outside tire changers, so the right side tire changers, and airjack crew will be swapped between the two cars.
Confirmed with Team Penske that the right side tire changers and air jack for the 2 and 12 have switched spots. #IndyCar
Newgarden’s usual outside front (Vance Welker), outside rear (Clay Turner) and airjack (Adam Baranski) will move to Power’s car.
Power’s usual outside front (Matt Jonsson), outside rear (Shaun Rinaman) and airjack (Blaine Hardy) will move to Newgarden’s car.
Both Welker (Newgarden) and Jonsson (Power) are the chief mechanics for both entries.
The team has confirmed the changes to NBC Sports. Jonsson was spotted in a hum by Verizon (No. 2) white crew shirt in the paddock, rather than his usual Verizon (No. 12) gray shirt.
Per Tim Cindric, Team Penske president, the change was made to place some of Power’s race-winning crew from Indianapolis earlier this year onto Newgarden’s car. Cindric is Newgarden’s race strategist, having moved over from Power’s box earlier this year.
Both drivers will start the race on Firestone’s black primary tires.
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.