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.
This will mean the following:
- 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.
Car No.: 20
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 14th
Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.
For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.
Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.
Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.
Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.
That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.
The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.
Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.
Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.