In only his second year driving for the captain, Roger Penske, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud won his first IndyCar title by dominating the Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma from his pole position. His championship rival, Will Power had clutch problems and finished 8 laps down.
Graham Rahal was second ahead of Juan Montoya.
Andretti teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi rounded out the top-5 as Rossi lost 4th when he ran out of fuel at the flag.
Rossi clinched the Rookie of the Year title following his Indy 500 win earlier.
An elated Pagenaud said afterwards, "It's unbelievable. I think I will realize more tomorrow. What a race! So much emotion right now to be honest its' hard to find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point, getting to this level and running up front like that when you need it, for an athlete, I think when you can perform 100 percent under pressure like this is amazing.
"It's such a great feeling. Obviously, it's me winning, but my whole team, the old champs the No. 22 team at Team Penske without all the guys the 424 people working at the shop and their wives and their kids being patient. Thanks to them for putting in such hard work for us and being able to shine on a race track like this.
"Thanks to Chevrolet what an amazing race car engine, drivability was phenomenal all day and the aero kit for me has been perfect all year. I can't thank enough Verizon for bringing the fans to the race track with the super-fast Verizon LTE advanced network and Pennzoil. Pennzoil a big part of this team they provide us the best oil to perform at this level. We need five hundredths of a second they can give it to us with better oil, thanks Pennzoil and all the partners that we have.
"HP, obviously, it's our first win with this car, finally, won with the Menards car, won with the PPG car and HP was all year and I'm so proud we could do this. I've been with them since 2012. I don't know what to say anymore, thank you."
This is Simon Pagenaud's fifth win of 2016 and the ninth win of his Indy car career, which ties Kenny Brack and Scott Sharp for 42nd on the all-time list. He also won at Long Beach, Barber, Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Mid-Ohio this year.
Today's championship is 14th Indy car championship for Team Penske and the second in the last three season. Will Power won the 2014 championship.
More to follow……
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): Congratulations, Simon. Well deserved, no question. Throughout the entire season, he was not only an amazing driver but a champion. Really honored to be working with a guy like that. The whole team was a dream to work with and today was the proof of that."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "It wasn't a terrible day but it wasn't a tremendous day. From where we started, I think coming home 12th was a reasonable gain but we were certainly hoping for more coming into the day. The Arrow Electronics car was good. We just kind of wavered back and forth about which strategy to use and went with the three-stopper, which might have been the right call. It's tough to tell until we sit down and look at it. Either way, we brought the car home and the crew was great in the pits. The car was better in the race than it has been all weekend. Like I said, it was not the finish that we wanted but it was still a great season overall. A big thanks to SPM and Arrow Electronics for a great 2016 and we'll be back stronger than ever next year."
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda): "The team did a fantastic job. (Sebastien) Bourdais did what he always does but I'm not going to worry about it. I'm satisfied with the finish and happy to be here in the SMP Racing car driving for this team. Thank you to SPM for the opportunity and also to my fans for cheering for me this season."
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "It was a really up and down race for the Gallagher team today. It started with an overboost problem which left us a sitting duck out there unfortunately. I was trying to hang on and then we pitted to fix the problem and tried to get back in the fight. Then for a stint and a half we were doing the same pace as the leader and was actually catching him so I thought we were in good shape. I thought the last stint was going to be great for us with all the overtakes we had left but the last set of tires didn't feel right for some reason on the car. We were still quick compared to the others and just did our best at the end."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "Obviously not the day we wanted here at Sonoma in the Target car, but my congratulations to Simon (Pagenaud) and Team Penske on a job well done. I wish we could have finished on a higher note for the season finale here this weekend but it wasn't meant to be. Thanks for all the support from Target over the last 27 years and all of the vendor partners as well and all they've done for this team. We'll be back fighting hard next season with the No. 9 team and can't wait to get started again."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): "Today was just completely out of our control and it's unfortunate that we had to end the season this way. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet was much better today than it had been the rest of the weekend and we felt good about moving up through the field quickly, but that contact on the first lap put us down quite a bit and it was really difficult moving back up through the field. We've had a lot of unlucky breaks this season, but I'm proud of the guys and all of NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing for sticking with it and huge congratulations to Simon (Pagenaud) and Team Penske."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "It was a tough day for the Plantronics – KVSH Racing Team. Not the way we wanted to finish the season. It's a top 10, but boy that was hard work. A lot of fuel saving, just a boring race. It's too bad it finishes like that, but definitely we didn't have the tools to fight this weekend. We tried our best and seemed to be able to make an illusion on one lap during qualifying on the red (alternate tire), but everything else seemed to be pretty average. We tried to stay clean and make it to the end. We had quite a few issues during the race with fuel consumption, burning more fuel than we thought we were and things like that, which really threw us a bit behind the eight ball. After that I really didn't trust the numbers, so I was saving more fuel and we still almost came up short. I am glad I did, but definitely not the kind of race where you feel like you are a factor or try to fight for it. You're just very passive, which is never a great feeling. We'll move on."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was obviously disappointing to have that gearbox problem. I think Simon (Pagenaud) was going to be tough to beat as far as the championship goes. Maybe we could have beaten him for the win, but I doubt it if everything just played out as it was. That was that. But honestly it was still a very strong year. Four race wins, I won a 500-mile race. Not the right one, but still a 500-miler. It's a 1-2-3 for the team, which is really good, considering how it finished last year. I think the team is really strong now. Another second place (laughter)."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "First of all a big thank you to AJ Foyt Racing, ABC Supply, Honda, Alfe and all of the sponsors supporting us. It's been a tough season. It started out well but then we had some bad luck. Today the strategy didn't work out as we wished. We were not quite there in terms of speed but we were fighting hard. I'm very proud of the No. 14 pit crew – they did an outstanding job on the pit stops today."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda): "For Steak 'n Shake, United Rentals, Hyatt, PennGrade, all our other sponsors, and especially everyone we had here this weekend supporting us, it was a great way to finish the season. That means a lot. They have been supportive through thick and thin and they came out to support us today. It was also cool to have Sergeant Rose with us. He is paralyzed and he stood for the national anthem with us which was pretty awesome. We would have liked to get another win but we were struggling with the rear (of the car). Overall we had our ups and downs (this season) but I'm really proud of this team and proud to be the top Honda once again. We led the charge for them the last couple of years and they did a great job. I wanted to get (Simon) Pagenaud for the win but when I would get close, my car would get massively loose. I thought at one point that it was just best that I salvage a second place than do something stupid. We're a one car team and obviously today we were fighting with the big boys – with Penske – who is the standard. To run like we did means a lot. It feels great to go into the off-season like this. Once again we proved that with the quality of the people we have in this organization, keeping their heads down and working hard puts us in the position to fight for wins. I'm proud and honored to work with these guys. We will be better next year."
CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda): "Sadly we had our worst weekends on the double points weekends. It's been our luck lately it seems but I think that overall we can be super proud with what we did this year. We led a lot of laps for Honda, we led a lot of different races, we had many top-six finishes, we were on the podium and we almost won a race. I think we can be super pleased with that. Compared to other people's first years this is a pretty solid one. I'm super lucky and happy to have had this year and to compete and drive for this team because it's been a lot of fun and it's been a dream of mine. Hopefully we can do more."
RC ENERSON (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America/Trench Shoring Honda): "It was looking really good for a while but then we had a mishap on a stop that put us barely a lap down, so that was disappointing. The team gave me a good car, we were consistent, we had the pace. It was a big struggle, a lot of fuel saving to try to get back on the lead lap but we couldn't quite do it. It's pretty tough to come away from the last race like this but we'll pick up the pieces and see what we can do to put something together for next year. Looking back at the three races I did, I have to say Watkins Glen was the best because we had a top 10 but this track (Sonoma) is definitely fun, probably the most challenging out of the three and I'm happy with how were with pace wise. We didn't have the best qualifying but we had the race pace and I hope everybody sees that."
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Samsung/Fuzzy's Vodka/ECR Chevrolet): "We struggled a little bit on red tires at the beginning, but once we got onto blacks the car was pretty good. We were catching up to the guys in front when we unfortunately had an issue with the driveshaft failing coming out of Turn 11. The guys did an awesome job not only this weekend but also all season. I can't thank Ed Carpenter Racing, Samsung, Fuzzy's Vodka and Rising Star Racing enough for the opportunity this year and now I'm looking forward to the offseason."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet): "We needed one more car in front of us (to finish 3rd in the championship), but we were a little too far back – 6th just didn't get it done. I did everything I could to keep Helio (Castroneves) behind me to see if it would shake out our way but it just didn't. There's nothing for us to hang our heads about, we had a phenomenal year in our own right. We have a great team, great sponsors, great crew, so we're not going to go into the offseason hanging our heads about anything."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, 2016 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma winner): "It's unbelievable. I think I will realize it more tomorrow. What a race. There is so much emotion right now, to be honest, I don't know if you can see it. I can't find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level. When you can perform 100 percent under pressure like this is amazing. It's such a good thing. It's me winning but it's the whole team, the No. 22 team and Team Penske."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 hhgregg Honda): "A little disappointed with the result. I know a car took the front off our wing. He just broke too late and broke off the wing. We had to come in to change it and lost two seconds there. We finish the season 10th in the championship. I have to thank everyone, all the sponsors from this year; UFD, Magneti Marelli, hhgregg. I have to be proud after this year. Thank you to the whole team, it has been an amazing year and everything so were going to work hard and see what happens for 2017."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): "It was a tough year for the Snapple team, I'm going to do whatever it takes to improve for next year – put in the time and whatever I need to. This ties for the worst year of my career, when it needed to be my best. We're definitely up against it for next year. Thanks to Snapple, UFD and Mutual of Omaha for hanging in there with me this season. It's a bit of a blessing after a nightmare year for hhgregg to come on (as co-primary sponsor) for two years (starting in 2017). I can now shift my focus on trying to fast and the season opener in St. Pete."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "Fourth was a decent finish, but we still have work to do before 2017. We've had a lot of missed opportunities this year, and we need to work on minimizing those weekends when we're in the back of the field. It's nice to be in the top five, but if we're not stepping on top of the podium, we're not doing our job. We were able to announce today that DHL and I will be back with Andretti Autosport until 2020, and that means the absolute world to me. We've had such a great past together and they've had great confidence in me and the team. And this is my home. When it's all said and done, I'll have been here for 11 years and potentially even more."
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): "Long, long afternoon. We really struggled with the car which was really, really loose. Ever since we got to this track, especially with the 41 car, the trend has been that I could do one or two quick laps and then the tire degradation was big. We haven't had a car that was good on old tires and that's what we saw in the race. I couldn't make the tires last and I was fighting a loose car the whole race. It's been a very, very tough season. The guys worked hard. Thanks to ABC Supply for their support the past two years and to everybody on the team. All the best for everybody going forward."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet): "Yesterday we qualified 12th, but we knew we had a fast race car for today so we really just wanted to stay in clean air. Man, some of our lap times when we were in clean air were really quick. We thought we might be able to make something work with those times. I think we hamstrung ourselves by starting on scuffed reds – they didn't hang on nearly as long as we thought they might. I think we had a really fast car and the guys did an awesome job in the pits. I can't thank the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew enough for the job they've done all year – they've really stepped up to challenge. Every year we keep moving up in the points, so we just need to figure out what we need to do in the offseason to make sure we come back even stronger next year."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): "Today was good until the last corner. It's heartbreaking to [run out of fuel] at the end. But it's weird how this sport works; we won the biggest race of the year the same way. It's just the way it goes sometime. Huge credit to the team for what we accomplished from St. Pete – where we struggled to stay on the lead lap and with a lot of other things – to where we are now and being at the front, legitimately. It was a pleasure to work with these guys and it's easier to look back at things that could have been different, but that's racing and I hope to show what I'm capable of in the future."
GOPRO GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA RACE RUNNING:
Lap 1: 22-Pagenaud leads the field into Turn 1. LOCAL YELLOW in Turn 7. Contact between 7-Aleshin and 10-Kanaan. Both cars are able to continue.
Lap 3: 22-Pagenaud leads 3-Castroneves by 1.0696 seconds.
Lap 6: 22-Pagenaud leads 3-Castroneves by 1.5052 seconds.
Lap 7: 7-Aleshin on pit lane for four black tires and fuel.
Lap 8: 41-Hawksworth on pit lane for four black tires and fuel. 22-Pagenaud leads 3-Castroneves by 2.7152 seconds.
Lap 9: 83-Kimball, 19-Enerson and 10-Kanaan on pit lane for four tires and fuel. Pit report: 83-Kimball remained on red tires. 19-Enerson and 10-Kanaan changed to black tires.
Lap 10: 22-Pagenaud leads 3-Castroneves by 4.5256 seconds. 26-Munoz and 8-Chilton on pit road for four black tires and fuel.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Lap 11: 14-Sato on pit road for four black tires and fuel.
Lap 12: 22-Pagenaud leads 3-Castroneves by 5.9356 seconds.
Lap 14: 98-Rossi, 28-Hunter-Reay and 9-Dixon on pit road for four black tires and fuel.
Lap 15: 12-Power, 2-Montoya, 15-Rahal, 21-Newgarden, 27-Andretti, 5-Hinchcliffe, 20-Pigot, 11-Bourdais on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 16: Leader 22-Pagenaud on pit lane for four tires and fuel. 3-Castroneves also pits for service but leads the lap.
Lap 17: Following green flag pit stops, 22-Pagenaud reassume leads of the race. He leads 12-Power by 5.4237 seconds.
Lap 18: 18-Daly on pit road for four tires and fuel. He remains on black tires.
Lap 20: 22-Pagenaud leads 12-Power by 7.0243 seconds.
Lap 21: 41-Hawksworth on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 23: 22-Pagenaud leads 12-Power by 6.5527 seconds.
Lap 25: 22-Pagenaud leads 12-Power by 6.7247 seconds. 83-Kimball, 19-Enerson and 7-Aleshin on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 26: 10-Kanaan on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 27: 22-Pagenaud leads 12-Power by 8.1743 seconds.
Lap 29: 3-Castroneves on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 30: 22-Pagenaud leads 12-Power by 9.4860 seconds. 8-Chilton on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 31: 26-Munoz and 14-Sato on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 32: 22-Pagenaud leads 12-Power by 10.3305 seconds.
Lap 33: 9-Dixon and 20-Pigot on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 35: 22-Pagenaud leads 12-Power by 13.0177 seconds.
Lap 36: 12-Power slows on course in Turn 7 and is falling back with an apparent mechanical issue.. 22-Pagenaud and other leaders on pit lane for four tires and fuel. 20-Pigot is stopped at pit out.
Lap 38: FULL COURSE YELLOW. 12-Power is stopped on course in Turn 10. Pits are closed. Leaders under caution are: 22-Pagenaud, 3_Castroneves, 83-Kimball, 15-Rahal and 2-Montoya.
Lap 39: Pits are open. 9-Dixon, 7-Aleshin, 8-Chilton, 41-Hawksworth and 19-Enerson on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 41: GREEN. 22-Pagenaud leads the field into Turn 1.
Lap 43: 22-Pagenaud leads 3-Castroneves by 1.8185 seconds.
Lap 46: 22-Pagenaud leads 3-Castroneves by 1.2101 seconds.
Lap 47: 26-Munoz on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 48: 8-Chilton, 83-Kimball, 10-Kanaan and 14-Sato on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 50: 3-Castroneves on pit road for four tires and fuel. 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 4.4689 seconds.
Lap 53: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 4.1465 seconds.
Lap 55: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 4.3738 seconds.
Lap 58: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 4.8275 seconds.
Lap 60: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 4.7825 seconds.
Lap 61: Leader 22-Pagenaud on pit road for four tires and fuel. New leader is 15-Rahal. 2, 98, 28, 11, 21 also pits.
Lap 62: Leader 15-Rahal on pit road for four tires and fuel. 27-Andretti, 7-Aleshin, 5-HInchclifee also on pit road.
Lap 63: 3-Castroneves has assumed the leads of the race. He leads 22-Pagenaud 2.0217 seconds.
Lap 65: 3-Castroenves leads 22-Pagenaud by 2.9744 seconds.
Lap 66: 8-Chilton on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 68: 83, 14, 10 26 on pit road for four tires and fuel. 3-Castroneves leads 22-Pagenaud by 4.6119 seconds.
Lap 69: Leader, 3-Castroneves on pit road for four tires and fuel. New leader is 22-Pagenaud.
Lap 70: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 0.9286 of a second.
Lap 73: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 1.3157 seconds.
Lap 76: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 0.7168 of a second.
Lap 79: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 2.2226 seconds.
Lap 82: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 2.1712 seconds.
Lap 84: WHITE: 22-Pagenaud leads 15-Rahal by 1.4582 seconds.
Lap 85: CHECKERED. 22-Pagenaud wins the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
|3||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||85||18.0157||14.7634||1:20.364||0||3||Chevy|
|18||41||Jack Hawksworth||84||1 LAPS||29.7107||1:20.017||0||17||Honda|
|19||19||RC Enerson||84||1 LAPS||57.9648||1:20.432||0||22||Honda|
|20||12||Will Power||77||8 LAPS||6 LAPS||1:19.645||0||4||Chevy|
|21||18||Conor Daly||36||3 LAPS||2 LAPS||1:21.368||0||21||Honda|
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
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