Pagenaud puts a period on 2016 with win, title in Sonoma


SONOMA, Calif. – Simon Pagenaud dominated the Verizon IndyCar Series season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, which put a period on his maiden championship season in his fifth full-time campaign since returning in 2012 and seventh season overall.

The driver of the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Chevrolet started from pole, led 76 of the 85 laps, and won his fifth race this season in Sonoma. He’s the second straight IndyCar champion to win the Sonoma race and the title in the same day, as Scott Dixon did last year.

And he’s the driver that delivers Roger Penske a championship in Team Penske’s 50th anniversary season.

Meanwhile, a mechanical issue proved the final nail in the coffin for Will Power’s championship hopes, which was enough to secure Pagenaud’s inaugural Verizon IndyCar Series title.

Celebrities were present in the pre-race – Ayesha Curry served as grand marshal with San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports – but the stars on track took over once the race got going.

Pagenaud led 36 of the first 37 laps before the first full course caution flew on Lap 38, with Power slowing on course exiting Turn 7 and then limping all the way around the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway road course before stopping at Turn 10.

Power needed to finish fifth or better to have any chance of winning the title, but once his car slowed, it was game over.

Pagenaud, 32, now has an IndyCar title to go along with his 2006 Formula Atlantic championship in his first season in North America 10 years ago, and a 2010 American Le Mans Series title co-driving with David Brabham.

Behind Pagenaud, Graham Rahal finished second to him – as he did at Barber Motorsports Park earlier this year in a thrilling bout – with Juan Pablo Montoya on the podium in third, Ryan Hunter-Reay fourth to put a period on a day when he signed an extension with DHL and Andretti Autosport through 2020, and Alexander Rossi fifth after running out of fuel on the final lap.

Josef Newgarden held off Helio Castroneves for sixth, with Marco Andretti, Charlie Kimball and Sebastien Bourdais in the top 10.

Dixon needed a helmet change and ended 17th, with Power limping home 8 laps down in 20th.

American rookies Spencer Pigot (gearbox) and Conor Daly (exhaust) were the only retirements on Laps 35 and 36, respectively.

SONOMA, Calif. – Results Sunday of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (5) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
3. (3) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (6) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
5. (8) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (14) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
9. (12) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 85, Running
10. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 85, Running
11. (11) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 85, Running
12. (20) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
13. (13) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
14. (15) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
15. (16) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 85, Running
16. (18) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 85, Running
17. (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (17) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 84, Running
19. (22) RC Enerson, Honda, 84, Running
20. (4) Will Power, Chevrolet, 77, Running
21. (21) Conor Daly, Honda, 36, Mechanical
22. (19) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 35, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 101.181 mph
Time of Race: 2:00:12.9424
Margin of victory: 3.2523 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 3 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 3 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Pagenaud 1-15
Castroneves 16
Pagenaud 17-60
Rahal 61-62
Castroneves 63-68
Pagenaud 69-85

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 659, Power 532, Castroneves 504, Newgarden 502, Rahal 484, Dixon 477, Kanaan 461, Montoya 433, Kimball 433, Munoz 432

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”