Wine Country plays host to Verizon IndyCar Series' championship battle
Race Broadcast Sunday, Aug. 24 4 p.m. (ET) NBCSN
Qualifying Broadcast Saturday, Aug. 23 7:30 p.m. (ET) NBCSN
Track Sonoma Raceway (12-turn, 2.385-mile road course) Distance 85 laps/202.73 miles
Radio IMS Radio Network XM 209/Sirius 213
2013 Race Winner Will Power
2013 Pole sitter Dario Franchitti (1:17.5271, 110.748 mph)
Track Record Will Power (1:17.2709, 111.116 mph) August 2012
First Indy Car Race 4/7/1970
Championship race heads to Sonoma
Will Power took back the lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings from teammate Helio Castroneves at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 3 and carries a 39-point advantage over the Brazilian into the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Can Power score his fourth win at Sonoma and pad his points lead?
Castroneves close but not close enough
Helio Castroneves won at Sonoma Raceway in 2008 and needs another strong finish if he wants to win his first series title. Castroneves, who led the standings from Iowa through Mid-Ohio, was the championship runner-up last year. Can the Brazilian find his way to the front again?
Can Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay or Montoya get back in contention?
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud and Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay have been among the front runners all season, but they find themselves losing ground to Will Power. Both are capable of strong finishes at Sonoma, while Team Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya is a former winner at Sonoma, claiming his first NASCAR win at the track in 2007. Can one of those contenders rebound by winning the final road course race of 2014?
Who will win in Wine Country?
The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma has featured seven different winners since the series' first visit to Sonoma Raceway: Tony Kanaan, 2005; Marco Andretti, 2006; Scott Dixon, 2007; Helio Castroneves, 2008; Dario Franchitti, 2009; Will Power, 2010-11 and 2013 and Ryan Briscoe, 2012. Can one of these drivers join Power as a repeat winner in Sonoma or will another new face find their way to Wine Country Winner's Circle?
Toasting Team Penske's success
Team Penske looks to add to its dominance at Sonoma Raceway. The team has won five of the last six races at the track and won the pole position five times. Will Penske's title-contending trio of Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya provide team owner Roger Penske more hardware this weekend?
Andretti family legacy
The Andretti name has been a major part of auto racing history and the latest generation of the famed family hopes to recapture his success in Sonoma. Marco Andretti, whose grandfather Mario finished second in the first Indy car race at the track, returns to the site his first Indy car win. Can Marco, who also won at the track in Indy Lights, regain his winning form on the Sonoma circuit and help his father Michael score his third win at the track as an owner?
Will competitive 2014 IndyCar Series season add record 11th winner?
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season has seen 10 winners in 16 races. Should a new winner emerge at Milwaukee, it would tie the 2000 and 2001 CART seasons for most winners in a single season.
Can Briscoe break through?
Ryan Briscoe hopes his past success at Sonoma can lead him back to Wine Country Winner's Circle. The Australian won his first Verizon IndyCar Series pole at Sonoma in 2005 and has finished on the podium at the track four of the last six starts, including a win in 2012. Can Briscoe return to Wine Country Winner's Circle in Sonoma?
James Hinchcliffe, Simon Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball all scored their first win in 2013, finished top 10 in the championship standings and established themselves as the next stars of the sport. The trio of young stars is joined by a talented rookie class that has already produced a race winner in Carlos Huertas. Will a young star be a threat to win this weekend?
• The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 11th Indy car race at Sonoma Raceway and the 10th Verizon IndyCar Series event. Will Power is the defending race winner and has won three of the last four pole positions. This will be the third 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.
• USAC held an Indy car race in Sonoma in 1970. Dan Gurney won the race.
• Will Power is the only driver to win at Sonoma more than once, winning the races in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Past winners Power, Ryan Briscoe (2012), Helio Castroneves (2008), Scott Dixon (2007), Marco Andretti (2006) and Tony Kanaan (2005) are entered in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
• There have been five different pole winners in the previous nine Verizon IndyCar Series races at Sonoma. Ryan Briscoe (2005), Scott Dixon (2006), Dario Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2013), Helio Castroneves (2008) and Will Power (2010-12). All but Franchitti are entered at Sonoma this weekend.
• Three drivers have won the race from the pole - Helio Castroneves (2008), Dario Franchitti (2009) and Will Power (2010-11).
• Three drivers have competed in every Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma - Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Dixon is the only driver to complete every lap of every race at Sonoma.
• Will Power has three wins and three poles in his five previous starts at Sonoma.
• Ryan Briscoe has four podium finishes in eight previous starts at Sonoma.
• Five drivers entered in the event - Mikhail Aleshin, Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Huertas, Juan Pablo Montoya and Carlos Munoz - will make their first attempt to start a Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma. Montoya made seven NASCAR starts at Sonoma, winning his first start in 2007.
• Team Penske has won at Sonoma five times, including the last four races with Will Power (2010-11 and 2013) and Ryan Briscoe (2012). Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport have each won twice at Sonoma.
• Will Power leads the Verizon IndyCar Series championship with two races remaining for the third time in his career. He also led the championship with two races to go in 2010 and 2012.
• Power leads Helio Castroneves by 39 points. It's the third time this season he's had a lead of 39 points.
• There are six drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Any driver who trails the leader by 88 points or more following Sonoma will be eliminated from championship contention.
• Sonoma will host its 10th Verizon IndyCar Series event. The winning driver at Sonoma has won the championship once in the prior nine races (Dario Franchitti, 2009).
• Since 1993, the 17th race of the season has been won by the Indy car champion driver four times: Dario Franchitti (Homestead, 2009; Chicagoland 2007); Paul Tracy (Mexico City, 2003); Gil de Ferran (Houston, 2001).
Season to Date:
• Will Power won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It was the 22nd win of his Indy car career, tying Tony Bettenhausen and Emerson Fittipaldi for 19th all time.
• Mike Conway won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for the second time in his career. It was his third Indy car win.
• Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for the second consecutive season.
• Simon Pagenaud won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, becoming the fourth different winner in as many races.
• Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 98th Indianapolis 500, becoming the first driver to win multiple races in 2014.
• Will Power and Helio Castroneves split the doubleheader races at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans - helping Team Penske sweep the wins in Detroit for the first time.
• Ed Carpenter won the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time in his career. It was his third Indy car win.
• Carlos Huertas claimed the first win of his career when he won the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race 1. He became the 211th different winner in Indy car racing.
• Simon Pagenaud won the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race 2. It was his second win of the season and fourth of his career.
• Juan Pablo Montoya became the eighth different winner in 11 races when he won the Pocono INDYCAR 500 from the pole. It was his 12th career win. He was the first driver to win the Verizon P1 Award and race this season.
• Ryan Hunter-Reay claimed his second win at Iowa Speedway in three years when he won the Iowa Corn Indy 300. Hunter-Reay was the fifth driver in a row from Andretti Autosport to win at Iowa.
• Sebastien Bourdais and Mike Conway split the doubleheader races at the Honda Indy Toronto. It was Bourdais' first Indy car win since 2007. Conway won for the second time in 2014 and the fourth time in his career.
• Scott Dixon won Chip Ganassi Racing's first race of the season when he came from 22nd position to win the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Dixon was the sixth driver in a row from Chip Ganassi Racing to win at Mid-Ohio.
• Will Power dominated the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile by leading 229 of the 250 laps. It was Power's third win of the season.
• Mikhail Aleshin, Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Huertas started their first career Verizon IndyCar Series race at St. Petersburg.
Milestones & Records:
• If Scott Dixon wins the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, he will join A.J. Foyt, Dario Franchitti, Sebastien Bourdais and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win four Indy car titles in his career. Foyt won seven championships in his career, while Andretti, Bourdais and Franchitti each won four titles.
• Will Power tied Ralph DePalma and Bobby Rahal for 16th place on the all-time wins list with his 24th race win at the Milwaukee Mile on Aug. 17.
• Scott Dixon tied Al Unser Jr. for sixth on the all-time wins list with his victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 3. Dixon, the active leader for wins, won his 34th race.
• Scott Dixon extended his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to 10 seasons with his win at Mid-Ohio.
• Sebastien Bourdais moved into sole possession of eighth place on the all-time wins list with his win at Toronto's Exhibition Place on July 20. Bourdais passed Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy with his 32nd career win.
• Helio Castroneves tied Rick Mears for 11th place on the all-time wins list with his 29th race win at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park on June 1.
• Will Power's win at St. Petersburg on March 30 extended his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to eight.
• Helio Castroneves reached 40 career poles in his Indy car career by earning the pole for the second race at Houston. Castroneves is the active leader with 40 pole positions, which is tied with Rick Mears for fourth all time.
• Will Power earned the 35th pole position of his career at Milwaukee, which is sixth all time.
• With his pole at Iowa, Scott Dixon extended his Verizon IndyCar Series streak to eight consecutive seasons with at least one pole position earned.
• Tony Kanaan will attempt to make his 232nd consecutive start, which would extend his all-time record. Scott Dixon with 173 straight starts (fourth all time), Marco Andretti with 149 straight starts (tied for seventh all time) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (16th all time) with 124 straight starts are the only active drivers with a streak of more than 100 consecutive starts.
• Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 100th consecutive start.
• Helio Castroneves is the active leader in starts with 293, which is seventh on the all-time list.
• Tony Kanaan has 292 starts, which is eighth on the all-time list.
• Helio Castroneves is the active leader in top-five finishes with 118, which is eighth on the all-time list.
• Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon are tied for ninth on the all-time list with 117 top-five finishes.
At-Track Schedule (all times local):
Saturday, Aug. 23
10 - 10:45 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1
1:15 - 2 p.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2
4:35 - 5:45 p.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (Knockout qualifying/Firestone Fast Six), NBCSN (Live)
Sunday, Aug. 24
10 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series warmup
12:15 p.m. - GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma pre-race
1:33 p.m. - Command to start engines
1:40 p.m. - Green flag, GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (85 laps/202.73 miles), NBCSN (Live)