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After Fontana
Final Driver Standings

Rank Driver Points
1 Will Power 671
2 Helio Castroneves 609
3 Scott Dixon 604
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 586
5 Simon Pagenaud 565
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 563
7 Tony Kanaan 544
8 Carlos Munoz 483
9 Marco Andretti 463
10 Sebastien Bourdais 461
11 Ryan Briscoe 461
12 James Hinchcliffe 456
13 Josef Newgarden 406
14 Charlie Kimball 402
15 Justin Wilson 395
16 Mikhail Aleshin 372
17 Jack Hawksworth 366
18 Takuma Sato 350
19 Graham Rahal 345
20 Carlos Huertas 314
21 Sebastian Saavedra 291
22 Ed Carpenter 262
23 Mike Conway 252
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch 80
26 J.R. Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam 57
28 Luca Filippi 46
29 James Davison 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
Ryan Briscoe wins Sonoma IndyCar race

by Mark J. Cipolloni
Sunday, August 26, 2012

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Ryan Briscoe flashes under the checkered flag just ahead of teammate Will Power
Bob Heathcote/AR1.com
Polesitter Will Power dominated most of the race but got held up when a caution flew just when he was pitting and his Penske Chevy teammate Ryan Briscoe grabbed the lead and went on to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma IndyCar race before a sun drenched northern California crowd. Dario Franchitti was third in his Ganassi Honda.

The caution was caused by a hard crash between Sebastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden in the esses on lap 63 of 85.  Bourdais had just come out of the pits on cold tires and got off the track in Turn 8 of the 2.385-mile road course (the esses) and came back across the track in his McAfee sponsored Chevy right in the path of Newgarden sending him hard into the tire barrier on the outside.  Bourdais' damaged car came to rest a short distance down the track.  Newgarden's car was severely damaged and his index finger was injured and will be further evaluated when he returns to Indy. Bourdais' car was also severely damaged - a broken tub.

After a lengthy track cleanup, and the lapped cars sent to the back, the green flew on lap 74 of 85 with Briscoe in the lead and Power, Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti right behind him.

Briscoe grabbed the lead with Power 2nd and Hunter-Reay 3rd but when they got to the turn 7 hairpin No. 98 Alex Tagliani made a bonsai move down the inside and took out No. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, which did severe damage to Hunter-Reay's championship hopes.

How important is the championship?  Hunter-Reay's team owner Michael Andretti was livid and pounded his fist on the team's pit stand, the disappoint obvious in his face.

"The only thing I can say is that there's probably not going to be enough apologies to make Ryan [Hunter-Reay] feel better," said Tagliani. "I understand. I ran into him, and the guy that comes from behind and makes contact is at fault. I take full responsibility on the incident. With that said, I pay my dues to be here and I'm allowed to race with everybody. I had a really good run on Dario, I was beside him into the corner and when I turned, I just missed the apex and Ryan was right there. If I could rewind, I would like to avoid pushing him, that's for sure.

"In racing, I've been in situations where I want to be nice and I want to be a gentleman, but then the people behind just blow by you. When I'm out there, I want to bring the Barracuda Racing car into the best position possible. Today, I think we had a top five car, but it was a race incident."

That brought out another caution because Hunter-Reay's car stalled and needed a push start.  The green flew on lap 77 and Briscoe again held the lead over Power.  With Power's main competitors having trouble, Power decided 2nd place points were looking pretty good and was content to hold off Franchitti to the finish.

Rubens Barrichello had his best result of the year with a 4th place finish for KV Racing and Graham Rahal rounded out the top-5.

With his 2nd place Power clinches the 2012 Mario Andretti Road Championship. 

And with their 1-2 finish, Chevrolet clinches the manufacturers Championship. "Chevrolet is proud to race in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012, and honored to win the Manufacturers championship with the Chevrolet direct-injected, twin turbo IndyCar V6,” said Jim Campbell, US Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. 

"The key to developing the best combination of power, durability, fuel economy and driveability in the Chevrolet Indy V6 has been teamwork with the drivers, crew chiefs, team owners and our engineering partners. There is still more racing to go this season, and the team remains 100% focused on finishing strong.”

"Congratulations to our Chevrolet teams and all of our technical partners on winning the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Manufacturers' Championship,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series. β€œThe "one-team" approach we implemented in the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 program has clearly demonstrated the value of integrating the input of all the talented engineers on each of our teams with Chevrolet engineers and the expertise of our technical partners. I am very proud of the contributions made by everyone involved in this program, and celebrate this achievement as Team Chevy.

And with his 7th place finish Simon Pagenaud clinches the Rookie of Year award.

The top eight drivers are mathematically eligible for the championship heading to the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sept. 2.

POST-RACE QUOTES:

RYAN BRISCOE (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's big. I wasn't sure if I was ever going to win again. It has been too long.  Especially here in Sonoma, I've always done so well at this track and I got my first ever pole position here and we've been top-five every year pretty much for the last five years so it's great to finally get the win. I look forward to drinking the red wine. Great battle with Will at the end there. He definitely had some bad luck in the pits, but we were there all day. I'm really excited and I hope to be able to work on my burnouts a little bit more in the future." (About what it's like to go through a losing streak like this): "It was tough. The last year was the first year that I hadn't won a race in a while. You've just go to keep plucking away, keep pushing hard. We've been fast. There's no doubt - several poles this year and front row starts, but we had trouble executing, and today we executed flawlessly thanks to the guys in the pits. There was absolutely no trouble at all. It was a straight free race. It was fun at the end there with some pressure from Will. My car was a lot better on reds. In the middle of the race he got away from us - the car wasn't that good on the blacks. But, we saved those reds for the end."

ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Team Penske): "We've run here a lot, we've got a pretty good setup the teams do perform each time we come back. The chance to test here a couple of weeks ago was really a plus for us because we got the car is the same, and I think everyone was on their best behavior from the standpoint of working together. You can see that with the cars as close as they are, but it was a very good day for us, obviously disappointing for Hunter-Reay and Dixon, but we want to win this championship. What we have to do is focus here the next two races." (On Will Power getting the road course championship): "I think any championship is important, we want to focus on the overall championship. It's important to us, it's important to the team, we've been close so many years and haven't been able to close the deal. Ganassi has done a better job doing that, so today was key for us." (On relationship with Chevrolet): " I think to have Chevy come into the series was a big plus. We have three engine manufacturers now, and there's a lot of competition, good competition between the brands. To come from Detroit and have Chevrolet in the race with the engines has been terrific, and certainly the reliability has been excellent. I think the speeds for both engines has been very competitive. I think the league has done a very good job in monitoring each engine and be sure it's a level playing field. To me, the Chevy relationship goes back a long time when we had the first Chevy Indy engine, to me this is just a repeat. To see them when the manufacturer's championship in their first year is very rewarding."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Obviously seeing Scott taken out on the first lap was not what I wanted to see. We seem to get caught behind guys, we just didn't have enough to get by them, but we were definitely quicker than we should. Lost a place each pit stop and then just had to sit behind guys, and that was kind of frustrating. It's nobody's fault but our own really. In the end, I was lucky to stay out of trouble."

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "We had a little bit of a fueling issue during the first stop, which was really a bummer because we had to end up making an extra pit stop and it threw our strategy off for the day. But at the end of the day we were able to put the pedal to the metal to catch up and get ourselves back on the lead lap. We were like ten seconds back, you know a lap down, so we caught up a bunch of time and we were really able to get good use out of our red tire. Given what we've been going through this weekend, we made some really significant improvements to the car. Based on the fact that we did have to make an extra pit stop we had to work really hard to get to the Top Ten. The boys did a really great job, and it's nice to finally have a single digit finish back at home, I'm definitely happy."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "It was a pretty eventful race for the HP team. It seems like I was always behind the car that got spun. We had contact early on when cars got together in front of us, but we were able to finish that first stint in good shape, even with damage to the front wing. The guys in the pit changed the nose like lightning-quick. They were awesome. We had a strong race car on the Firestone red tires. At the end, I was hoping to get a top-four position, but we got boxed in behind (Alex) Tagliani, who had a broken wing, on that last restart. Those things happen on restarts." (About winning Rookie of the Year): "We got the Rookie of the Year award, and that's pretty cool. It was one of our goals for the year, so we can check that box. We are now in fifth in the championship, so we are very proud of those accomplishments."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "At the end of the day, I had a bunch guys that didn't understand that we had to get to the blend line. Although there was a big crash. I was surprised the pits stayed open. I can't win. If I go long on yellow, I get screwed by a yellow and if you go short, you get screwed by yellow. It's tough. When you lead so many laps and have the quickest car. The delay on the push-to-pass cost me, too. I couldn't engage it. It kept undoing every time I got on the power. Still a good day. Just disappointed to lead so many laps and I haven't won in so long. Excellent for Ryan (Briscoe). His first win, and he's a bloody good driver. He's a had a tough time, but he's definitely one of the fastest drivers in the series." (Still up in the championship): "I'd love to win, but I still got points and made the most of the situation as it was. I can't help to be disappointed, but I love to win. Really happy for my teammate."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): ""It's really good to have some good points. You know the season started a little bit slow so, thanks to the whole team and thanks for all the support.  I've had wonderful support. The thing that I hear the most is "Welcome to America" and I feel welcome.  There's plenty more from me for sure." (On the team and what they have accomplished for you and the early frustrations in the season): "The team is a small group that works well together. For one reason or the other we haven't been able to get the results that we deserve. I mean, TK was superb in getting those results but, today was a good day. The track really worked well. I was able to put some really good laps in."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): "Really proud of the Service Central guys. I think they worked awfully hard and a result like that feels awfully good. Coming from 13th, it's hard to pass here, so to get a top-five, to get two guys on the outside on that last restart felt really good. I thought I was going to get Barrichello, but I just didn't have quite enough.  But, the guys did a great job. Honda did a great job. It's really good. Unfortunately, the two guys we were trying to catch in points finished ahead of us. Overall, that's a really good points day for us."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): "It was a difficult weekend. The team worked so hard to find a good balance under speed. We made some good progress over the weekend but it was never fast enough to be what we wanted and in the end, unfortunately, we had engine failure so it was a very short race. It was a shame because we made some setup changes after the morning warm-up that I felt were positive changes. I'm looking forward to returning to Baltimore. We should be competitive as we were in other street course races this year."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "We've been slow since day one - since the first session. On the start I got into Simon (Pagenaud), he got held up - or I guess caught up - in Turn 7 there; hit him. We kind of were just settling into it; put a new wing on that first stop and then the car just went wicked lose. The low speed grip was just non-existent. So I had a train of cars behind me and Oriol (Servia) got in to the back of me. It wasn't intentional - I was hanging on for dear life and I just literally had to slow the car down that much to make the corner. When he hit me I think it knocked an oil line off and that just did the engine in. It's just bad to worse, there's nothing else that could have worked against us this weekend, but we'll but it behind us and try to move on to Baltimore and come back stronger."

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Angie's List/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "We had a decent run and were trying to salvage what we could from this weekend in Sonoma. We got an unlucky break with (Sebastien) Bourdais when he got in trouble in front of us. Unfortunately Bourdais came right across the track and I had nowhere to go. I kept my hands on the wheel because it happened so fast and that's when my finger got hurt. It's the hardest hit I've ever had."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "It was a really good day for the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. The car was really quick. We just have to get out qualifying figured out. I have to find those two-tenths to get into the top-12 because the fact that we drove to the top-10, shows we have the pace. The guys in the pit lane today were awesome. The fact that we had to change the gear-stack in the end there in the middle of a race just shows that there's a lot of credit to them. We'll go back and figure out what went wrong and be stronger in these last two races."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): ""It was a very disappointing race for us. We made good progress through the weekend with the Fuzzy's Vodka car and felt we would be better today in the race. I don't know what happened for the race. We didn't make many changes for the race. But it felt like it was a completely different car from the past couple of days. I thought we had the opportunity to do better today and take a step in the right direction. But the car just did perform the way we wanted. We'll have to sit down and go over everything this week as we move to Baltimore for Labor Day weekend. I feel badly I didn't do better today, that team didn't do better and I badly for our sponsor, Fuzzy's Vodka. We'll regroup and be ready for the next two races left in the season."

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HMV Racing Lotus): I guess P-17 is OK. I think it was all we could get. We're still getting passed like we're standing still on the straightaways, but I think it was a good weekend. We kept our head in it during the race and toward the end the yellows starting coming out. That really helped us with our fuel mileage. It was a good race."

E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): "We had a very tough weekend. We only ran a few laps over the first two days because of mechanical issues in both practice sessions which meant we went to qualifying without knowing how the car would behave on new tires.  Qualifying didn't go as well as we hoped and on this circuit starting in the back is never good. In the race, we had some good stints. I overtook some cars and we were making our way through the field. I think we had potential for top-10 finish, however with four laps left in the race Ryan Hunter-Reay hit me in Turn 7 and the car spun which eliminated any change of a good result."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Mouser Electronics/GEICO KV Racing Technology Chevrolet):  "I definitely had a top-six car today. The first lap I broke my front wing and even with that problem I got up to seventh place. However during our last pit stop the car got stuck in neutral, which put us a lap down. We continue to fight and fortunately were able to savage a top-10 finish which gave us valuable championship points."

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda): "The track was very slick today. The car was sliding all over the track, but everyone else had to deal with it as well. Overall, it was a good day for the No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda. I am very happy with an 11th place finish after having to start 20th today. We got robbed at the start on the first lap and lost a lot of positions on the track. The caution helped us at the end of the race on gas millage. We got behind a couple cars that slowed down when the first yellow came out just as the leader was coming out of the pits, which put us a lap down.  If that hadn't have happened we would have had a top-10 finish today."

JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It was a pretty good day for the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. We picked up 14 positions in the race. We started the race with a really good car, but when we pitted for the first time, we put some scuffed red tires on the car and ended up costing us positions on the track. All I could do was try not to lose too many positions. After our second stop we started gaining some positions back. I thought the car was great on rear-starts today. The team did an outstanding job giving me a great racecar today. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into Baltimore next week."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL / Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): "I drove SO hard all day, pushed SO hard to get from seventh to third, I can't even tell you how hard I drove just to hold-off cars that were quicker at times, just to put us in the position to challenge for a win. We had a great car at the end, and... then it was the usual Tag (Tagliani). He just got in there, locked up the brakes and got into the back of me. I can't tell you how frustrated I am after the engine problems last (race, at Mid-Ohio), and then this. We had a podium (finish). I can't get over it right now. It's unreal."

MARCO ANDRETTI (Team RC Cola Chevrolet): ""We had been fighting hard to get by (Graham) Rahal, and I lost part of the (right) front wing, but it seemed like we were still able to turn some decent lap times. We had an extra set of (Firestone) Red (tires), so we were able to catch the pack of cars in front us but it was tough to get around guys. We made a pit stop (on lap 42), and then the temperatures started to go all over the place and the guys told me to come in immediately. Because it happened in the race, we won't have a penalty in Baltimore (next weekend)."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet): "I am very happy to bring the No. 17 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport car home. It was a great experience throughout the whole weekend. We were pretty quick all around and I felt very comfortable competing with the big guys. I really want to thank Gary (Peterson) and Michael (Andretti) for this great opportunity. It was great working with Ryan, Marco and Hinch (teammates Hunter-Reay, Andretti and Hinchcliffe) throughout the weekend. I am looking forward to the next time that we will all be on the track together. It was a learning experience not only for me, but for my engineers also. We have been learning a lot and want to keep that process very steep."

KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "The first five laps were a real challenge, having not been in a race for quite some time. It was carnage out there early and there were cars all over the place. I just wasn't aggressive enough early on, and that's just a result of a lack of time in the car. I was really using today to focus on minimizing mistakes and it was paying off. In all, I feel like we would have done much better if we hadn't missed so much leading up to this weekend. However, I really want to thank Chevy for getting us an engine for this race, which was really important to my sponsor TrueCar."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "It was a very bad impact the tub is broken in two and the gear box pretty much went through my shoulder so it was a really bad hit. It's a shame. I feel very bad because at first I don't know what happened the car just refused to turn and it's my mistake for sure, it's me turning the wheel. I have no idea what happened." (About race):"Yeah everything was working out great because then we were going to finish with the better tires. We had a brand new set of tires. The problem is we were in the mix of all these lapped cars that were racing us pretty hard and I wanted to stay ahead and I guess I should have just given up."

Results

Fin. Start Driver Engine Diff. Gap Status
1 2 Ryan Briscoe Chevy 0.0000 0.0000 Running
2 1 Will Power Chevy 0.4408 0.4408 Running
3 6 Dario Franchitti Honda 1.0497 0.6089 Running
4 11 Rubens Barrichello Chevy 8.8529 7.8032 Running
5 13 Graham Rahal Honda 9.4667 0.6138 Running
6 4 Helio Castroneves Chevy 11.2575 1.7908 Running
7 9 Simon Pagenaud Honda 12.3087 1.0512 Running
8 15 JR Hildebrand Chevy 22.8121 10.5034 Running
9 8 Alex Tagliani Honda 39.6868 16.8747 Running
10 16 Tony Kanaan Chevy 1 LAPS 1 LAPS Running
11 20 Justin Wilson Honda 1 LAPS 1.2003 Running
12 24 James Jakes Honda 1 LAPS 1.0788 Running
13 5 Scott Dixon Honda 1 LAPS 0.5456 Running
14 14 Mike Conway Honda 1 LAPS 4.2997 Running
15 23 Sebastian Saavedra Chevy 1 LAPS 2.3024 Running
16 17 EJ Viso Chevy 1 LAPS 2.7274 Running
17 27 Simona de Silvestro Lotus 1 LAPS 2.2855 Running
18 7 Ryan Hunter-Reay Chevy 1 LAPS 0.6289 Running
19 18 Oriol Servia Chevy 1 LAPS 3.5732 Running
20 25 Ed Carpenter Chevy 1 LAPS 3.1645 Running
21 21 Charlie Kimball Honda 3 LAPS 2 LAPS Running
22 3 Sebastien Bourdais Chevy 22 LAPS 18 LAPS Contact
23 22 Josef Newgarden Honda 23 LAPS 1 LAPS Contact
24 19 Katherine Legge Chevy 37 LAPS 14 LAPS Mechanical
25 12 Marco Andretti Chevy 39 LAPS 2 LAPS Mechanical
26 10 James Hinchcliffe Chevy 50 LAPS 11 LAPS Mechanical
27 26 Takuma Sato Honda 83 LAPS 33 LAPS Off Course

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