It’s not easy to uncork success at Sonoma (VIDEO)

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Nestled in the heart of the California wine country, Sonoma Raceway is definitely contending for the title of “most beautiful setting” in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

But for the drivers, there will be no time to admire the surroundings in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), as they navigate a circuit that is highly technical with multiple elevation changes and sharp corners.

Conditions tend to change quickly at Sonoma, and adding to the difficulty is the track’s low-grip surface. Taking care of this weekend’s batch of Firestone tires – the same ones that were used back in April at Barber Motorsports Park – could be the biggest factor of all in the end.

Judging from Scott Dixon’s comments earlier today, these tires may not last too long at peak performance before falling off considerably over a stint.

As far as passing zones are concerned, this year will be the second running on a course that received some tweaks for the IndyCars last season. If you may recall, Turn 7 got modified into a hairpin, Turn 9 was widened, and Turn 11 was extended.

They seemed to work well enough, but Sonoma’s winding layout – which doesn’t feature a particularly long straightaway – still puts emphasis on getting and keeping track position.