Will Power was one of three Team Penske drivers that took part in Thursday's test at Sonoma Raceway. Photos courtesy Sonoma Raceway.

Six drivers go through paces in Sonoma Raceway test on Thursday

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Sonoma Raceway media release

SONOMA, Calif. (Sept. 6, 2018) – Six drivers from three Verizon IndyCar Series teams took part in a one-day test session at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday, Sept. 6.  The series returns to Sonoma for the season finale at the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma, Sept. 14-16.

Will Power and Josef Newgarden, who both remain in the championship hunt, took part in the seven-hour test session alongside Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato, who won last weekend in Portland, as well as Harding Racing’s Patricio O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights Series champion who made his first laps in a Verizon IndyCar Series car.

This marked an important test session for Team Penske. The team boasts seven wins in 13 races in wine country as they head into the final race of the season.

Josef Newgarden takes laps during Thursday’s test at Sonoma Raceway.

“We’ve always tried to prioritize the finale for a test that’s big for us,” said reigning series champion Josef Newgarden, who sits fourth in points. “The race is double points, which is two races essentially, so it’s important to be strong at the finale. Penske cars have always been good here traditionally, so we’re hoping we keep that tradition alive, but you can never be too comfortable. I don’t think you can underestimate anyone now. You’ve got to be on the lookout for people improving.”

Heading into the finale in Sonoma, four drivers remain mathematically eligible to win the championship. Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) holds a slim 29-point lead over Nevada City native Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport). Power and Newgarden sit in third and fourth, respectively. Dixon, Rossi, Power and Newgarden have each posted three wins so far this season, and with double points on the line in Sonoma the championship will likely come down to the final lap.

“Having a full test day before race weekend is always handy, hopefully the conditions are similar and we can get some good information to go over for next week,” said Power, who has three Sonoma wins. “It’s important to get in a good window and understand what makes the car fast around this place. It’s a track I’ve always enjoyed, so I’d love to finish it out with a win.”

Four IndyCar teams are slated to take part in a final test session next Thursday, Sept. 13, prior to race weekend, including Andretti Autosport, Chip Ganassi Racing, Carlin and Harding Racing. The IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend kicks off with two practice sessions on Friday, practice and qualifying on Saturday and the championship race beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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