IndyCar

IndyCar: Fast Facts for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Sonoma

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With the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship on the line this Sunday, here’s what you need to know about the Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale:

INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, Sept. 14 – Sunday, Sept. 16

Track: Sonoma Raceway, a 2.385-mile permanent road course in Sonoma, California

Entry list: INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma (PDF)

Race distance: 85 laps / 202.7 miles

Push-to-pass parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires in the race.

Twitter: @RaceSonoma, @IndyCar #IndyCar, #SonomaGP

2017 race winner: Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet)

2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Josef Newgarden (No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1 minute, 15.5205 seconds, 113.691 mph

Qualifying record: Josef Newgarden, 1:15.5205, 113.691 mph, Sept. 16, 2017 (set in Round 3 of qualifying)

NBCSN telecasts: Practice 1, 4 p.m., ET Friday, Sept 14 (same-day delay); Practice 2, 6 p.m., ET Friday, Sept. 14 (live); Qualifying, 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 15 (same-day delay); Race, 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 16 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for NBCSN alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Nick Yeoman (Turn 7) and Jake Query (Turn 9) are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Michael Young and Dan Rusanowsky reporting from the pits. The INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 216, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practices and qualifying are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also airing on Sirius 219 and XM 209.

Video streaming: All sessions not covered by live television will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar).

At-track schedule (all times local Pacific Time):

Friday, Sept. 14

11 – 11:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com; NBCSN (4 p.m. ET, same-day delay)

3 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 2, NBCSN (live)

4:05 – 4:20 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice

Saturday, Sept. 15

11 – 11:45 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)

3 – 4:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (8 p.m. ET, same-day delay)

Sunday, Sept. 16

3 p.m. – Driver introductions

3:30 p.m. – NBCSN on air

3:33 p.m. – Start engines command

3:40 p.m. – INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma (85 laps/202.7 miles), NBCSN (live)

CHAMPIONSHIP FACTS:

  • There are four drivers mathematically eligible for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship: Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Will Power and Josef Newgarden. Dixon has won four Verizon IndyCar Series championships, while Power and Newgarden won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Rossi has never won the championship.
  • Scott Dixon leads the Verizon IndyCar Series championship with one race to go for the fifth time in his career. Dixon, who took the championship lead following his win at Texas in June, won championships in three of the previous four seasons that he led with one race to go (2003, 2008 and 2013).
  • Scott Dixon leads Alexander Rossi by 29 points, with Will Power and Josef Newgarden both 87 points behind. With 104 maximum points available at Sonoma, the championship is nearly a winner-take-all situation for the top two drivers in the championship.
  • This is the 13th consecutive year that the Verizon IndyCar Series champion will be determined at the final race of the season.
  • This is the 15th Indy car race at Sonoma. The winning driver at Sonoma has won the championship three times in the prior 14 races (Dario Franchitti in 2009, Scott Dixon in 2015 and Simon Pagenaud in 2016).

Key championship point statistic: This is the 13th straight season that the Verizon IndyCar Series championship will be decided in the final race.

Point differential: The 29 points which separate Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi is the fifth-largest margin with one race to go since 2006. The closest margin with one race to go was 2006 when Helio Castroneves led Sam Hornish Jr. by one point. The average deficit with one to go since 2008 is 20.3 points.

Championship-eligible drivers results at Sonoma: Scott Dixon has seven top-five finishes in 13 Sonoma starts, including wins in 2007, 2014 and 2015; Rossi finished fifth in his first start at Sonoma in 2017; Power has five podium finishes in nine starts, including wins in 2010, 2011 and 2013; Newgarden has one top-five finish at Sonoma. He recorded his best finish (second) in six starts in 2017.

RACE NOTES:

  • There have been eight different winners in the 16 previous Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), Josef Newgarden (ISM Raceway, Barber Motorsports Park and Road America), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Pocono Raceway), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Gateway Motorsports Park), Scott Dixon (Raceway at Belle Isle-1, Texas Motor Speedway and Streets of Toronto), Ryan Hunter-Reay (Raceway at Belle Isle-2), James Hinchcliffe (Iowa Speedway) and Takuma Sato (Portland International Raceway). Dixon’s win at Toronto on July 15 was his 44th career win, which ranks third on the all-time Indy car victory list. Bourdais’ win at St. Petersburg on March 11 was his 37th, which ranks sixth all-time. Power’s win at Gateway on Aug. 25 was his 35th and tied Bobby Unser for seventh on the all-time Indy car victory list.
  • The INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 11th road/street course race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule with seven drivers winning the previous 10 races: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach), Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park and Road America), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix), Scott Dixon (Raceway at Belle Isle-1 and Streets of Toronto), Ryan Hunter-Reay (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2) and Takuma Sato (Portland International Raceway)
  • The INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 15th Indy car race at Sonoma Raceway. Simon Pagenaud is the defending race winner. This will be the seventh race on the 12-turn, 2.385-mile layout. The Verizon IndyCar Series competed on a 12-turn, 2.303-mile layout from 2005-2011.
  • Will Power, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud are the only drivers to win at Sonoma more than once. Dixon won the race in 2007, 2014 and 2015, Power won in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and Pagenaud won the race in 2016 and 2017. Past winners Dixon, Power, Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan (2005) and Marco Andretti (2006) are entered in this year’s race.
  • Will Power has won five of the last eight pole positions at Sonoma (2010-12 and 2014-15). Other past pole winners entered this weekend are Scott Dixon (2006), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2017). Four drivers have won the race from the pole: Castroneves (2008), Dario Franchitti (2009), Power (2010-11) and Pagenaud (2016).
  • Three drivers have competed in every race at Sonoma since Indy cars returned to the track in 2005: Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Dixon and Kanaan are entered. Dixon is the only driver to complete every lap in the previous 13 races.
  • Team Penske has won at Sonoma seven times, including six of the last eight races with Josef Newgarden (2017), Simon Pagenaud (2016), Will Power (2010-11 and 2013) and Ryan Briscoe (2012). Chip Ganassi Racing has won four times at Sonoma (Scott Dixon in 2007, 2014-15 and Dario Franchitti in 2009) and Andretti Autosport has won twice (Tony Kanaan in 2005 and Marco Andretti in 2006).
  • Eight rookies – Santino Ferrucci, Pietro Fittipaldi, Jack Harvey, Colton Herta, Jordan King, Matheus Leist, Patricio O’Ward and Zach Veach – are entered. Robert Wickens, who will not race due to injuries sustained in an accident at Pocono, has clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for 2018. O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion, and Herta, who finished second in Indy Lights in 2018, are attempting to make their series debut.

Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 300th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Scott Dixon has made 240 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Marco Andretti has made 216 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.

Dean Wilson’s life as a privateer reconnects the rider to his roots

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One of the added benefits of subscribing to NBC Sports Gold is the in-depth interviews from each Saturday’s action. Last week between the first and second rounds of qualification for the Glendale Supercross race, a relaxed and confident Dean Wilson joined Race Day Live’s Daniel Blair and Jim Holley to review his fourth-place finish in the season opener and his mindset moving forward.

Losing factory support from Rockstar / Husqvarna at the end of 2018 was not exactly what Wilson had in mind, but after getting off to a great start in the first two races this season, it may well have been a blessing in disguise.

The life of a privateer is not exactly relaxed, but it affords a rider the opportunity to call his own shots. For Wilson, it is also a way to reconnect with the grassroots feel that attracted him to Supercross in the first place.

“I think that’s what I like,” Wilson said on Race Day Live. “I think that’s the environment and atmosphere I like – it’s just more low key. At Anaheim I, you would think I was local racing at Glen Helen. I had a Sprinter and I had another trailer just to chill in, do my spins. It was so cold I had a little propane heater to warm me up. But I like that. That’s what works for me.”

MORE: Dean Wilson’s Cinderella story at Anaheim 

The program Wilson was able to put together during the offseason produced back-to back top 10s – a much better start to the 2019 season than he experienced last year.

In 2018, Wilson did not score a top 10 until his fourth feature at San Diego. His first top five would not come until late March in Indianapolis.

This year Wilson got the hole shot and led 14 laps at Anaheim in the opener before finishing fourth. Last week in Glendale, he finished eighth.

“What was going through my head was ‘it’s about time; it’s about five years too late to lead some laps here,’ ” Wilson described his emotion as he led at Anaheim. “It was nice because I did a lot of work in the off-season and my starts were really good. The thing is I haven’t over-analyzed my starts and practice.”

At Anaheim I, Wilson struggled with visibility as his goggles began to get fouled by mud. A once comfortable lead was eroded by Justin Barcia. With pressure from behind, Wilson made a minor mistake that was then compounded by lapped traffic.

“I was leading my laps; I was just trying to hit my marks. I was doing really well until I made a couple of mistakes. I couldn’t hit that middle double, double … the rut was getting real chewed out, but I was already on the right side where you couldn’t double the middle part so you had to go roll, roll, roll – and Barcia was already on me.”

Wilson’s pair of top 10s was enough to keep him fifth in the standings, three points behind Glendale’s winner Blake Baggett.

For more, watch the video above.

Next Race: Anaheim II Jan. 19, 11 p.m., NBCSN

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