• Aug 23, 2010

2010 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma – Click above for high-res image gallery

Just five races remain on the 2010 Indy Racing League IndyCar schedule, and only one of those is a road course. The final four rounds of the championship will all be contested on ovals – but this weekend the drivers will be taking on Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Last race at Mid-Ohio, series points leader Will Power saw his lead shrink a bit when second place Dario Franchitti took the win. Still, Power clinched the inaugural Mario Andretti trophy for being the road course champ. Not a lot of drivers have a shot at catching the seemingly invincible super Power, but Franchitti has a better track record at Sonoma...and on ovals.

In fact, Power had a pretty nasty crash at Infineon just last year, while Franchitti claimed victory, so it was going to be interesting to see if 2010 would bring a reversal of fortune for the duo. Heading into qualifying, Power was looking to extend his consecutive pole position record and secure enough points to give him a bigger buffer going into the ovals, which haven't been as lucky for him to date. Follow the jump to see how things played out at Infineon.

[Images: Donald Miralle, Christian Petersen/Getty Images | George Nikitin, Rich Pedroncelli/AP]

While he made it through the first round of qualifying with no problem, Power seemed to be struggling a bit in round two and looked like he might actually be outside the Firestone Fast Six for the first time in a very long time. On his next-to-last lap, however, Will cranked off a lap good enough for best time of the day. That same speed carried over into the final round and Power succeeded in stretching his record Peak Performance Pole Position count to eight overall in 210. Amazing. Teammate Helio Castroneves was second followed by rival Target Chip Ganassi's Dario Franchitti, setting up an interesting run into Turn One.

When the green flag flew, the field started to string out, but everybody was quickly back down to pace car speeds as Dan Wheldon didn't even make it to the start-finish line before he was upside down on track. It appeared that he drifted a bit wide coming out of the last corner and clipped the right front tire of Bertrand Baguette's car, launching his racer into a barrel roll. The safety team righted the car and Wheldon was shaken up but apparently fine otherwise. The first five laps were run under yellow, but that didn't take anything away from the fact that Will Power had officially led 12 of the 13 races this season – the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record coming at Kansas. There were several good battles all the way down the running order, with cars going three wide at times into the Carousel. Up towards the front, Dario Franchitti managed to get past Helio Castroneves for second, but nobody looked to be making a serious move on Power who was lapping a full second faster than anyone else at one point.

Will was out front at Lap 25 too, the race moving quickly following that opening lap shunt. As the cars completed their first round of pit stops around Lap 30, it was Power, Marco Andretti, J.R. Hildebrand, Ryan Briscoe, Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Castroneves, Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal in the top ten spots, although Andretti and Hildebrand were on a different pit strategy.
The first full-course caution since the opening lap came out on Lap 33 when Milka Duno spun in Turn 7 and came to rest in a precarious position. Simona di Silvestro pitted under yellow to replace a damaged nosecone, while Andretti and E.J. Viso finally made their first stops. As the field went back to green on Lap 35, Power's lead had shrunk back to nothing, but his Penske teammate, Briscoe was now between him and Franchitti.
A couple of laps later, Marco Andretti got a run on J.R. Hildebrand, but locked up his tires and clipped the rookie, spinning both of them. There wasn't a lot of damage to Andretti's car, but Hildebrand would be out for the day once he was brought back to the pits. Although not a major impact, it was still enough to bring out the third caution of the day.

The next restart on Lap 41 was clean, and everybody looked to be on their best behavior for the run to the finish. Although Power was once again drawing away from the pack, the other top runners were tightly bunched, with Franchitti and his Target Chip Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon all over Ryan Briscoe who was running in second. The final round of stops started around Lap 52 and with just about 23 laps to run, almost everybody chose to run the grippier red striped Bridgestones to the checkers. With the possibility those softer tires might go off before the finish if the race went green the rest of the way, however, Dario decided to try the blacks. When Dixon decided to stay out as Power pitted, it was the first time in the race that Will hadn't led.

Dixon had to stop again though, and with 15 laps to go, it was once again Power out front, followed by Franchitti, Dixon, Briscoe, Castroneves, Wilson, Tony Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Rahal and Rafael Matos in the top ten. The decision to go with the blacks seemed to cost Franchitti a few laps later as his teammate, Scott Dixon, easily slid past and started a charge at Power. Dixon caught a bit of a break a couple of laps later too, as E.J. Viso, Rafael Matos and Takuma Sato tried to make a Baguette sandwich going into the Carousel. Bertrand got the worst of it, but the field was once again bunched for a final sprint to the finish.
On the restart with just six laps to go, Scott Dixon made a move on Power but wasn't able to get close enough to pull off the pass. He stayed tight on Power's tail, though, looking for his shot. It looked like they might get another yellow with just two to go, as Takuma Sato couldn't quite slow enough to avoid Danica Patrick, breaking her front wing and sending Sato into the pits. A few turns later, the victory was sealed for Power, however, when Francesco Dracone spun in the final turn, bringing out the white and yellow together. So, a year after leaving the track on a stretcher, Will Power was taking home the win and extending his points lead in the championship. That was the sixth different winner in six races at Sonoma, but also Power's fifth win of the season.

The next race in Chicago will start the final chapter of the 2010 season, with four consecutive oval races finishing off the schedule. Power hasn't had as much luck on ovals as he has on road and street courses, unlike his closest challengers who usually strong on ovals. Power looks strong, but Dixon and Franchitti still have a chance to catch him. Join us on August 28th for the Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 from Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois – and don't forget to check out the full results and standings below.

QP Car Driver Sponsor Team Time Speed
1 12 Will Power Verizon Team Penske Verizon Team Penske 1:16.5282 108.337
2 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Team Penske 1:16.5652 108.284
3 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing 1:16.9437 107.752
4 77 Alex Tagliani FAZZT Race Team FAZZT Race Team 1:17.2068 107.384
5 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Team Penske 1:17.2109 107.379
6 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing 1:17.3470 107.190
7 22 Justin Wilson Team Z-Line Designs/DRR Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Mtrsprts 1:16.9447 107.750
8 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay Team IZOD Andretti Autosport 1:17.1317 107.489
9 11 Tony Kanaan Team 7-Eleven/Dr Pepper Cherry Andretti Autosport 1:17.3181 107.230
10 2 Raphael Matos HP de Ferran Dragon de Ferran Dragon Racing 1:17.3710 107.156
11 78 Simona de Silvestro (R) Team Stargate Worlds/HVM HVM Racing 1:17.7429 106.644
12 4 Dan Wheldon National Guard Panther Racing Panther Racing 1:17.8280 106.527
13 34 Bertrand Baguette (R) Conquest Racing RACB Conquest Racing 1:17.5239 106.945
14 06 Hideki Mutoh Formula Dream/Panasonic Newman/Haas Racing 1:17.5187 106.952
15 8 E.J. Viso PDVSA KVRT KV Racing Technology 1:17.6825 106.727
16 02 Graham Rahal NHR/QuickTrim Newman/Haas Racing 1:17.5284 106.939
17 5 Takuma Sato (R) Lotus-KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology 1:17.7112 106.687
18 26 Marco Andretti Team Venom Energy Andretti Autosport 1:17.6216 106.810
19 24 J.R. Hildebrand (R) Trans Systems/DRR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:17.7659 106.612
20 32 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology 1:17.7533 106.630
21 14 Vitor Meira ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing A.J. Foyt Enterprises 1:17.9149 106.408
22 19 Alex Lloyd (R) Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing 1:18.0423 106.235
23 7 Danica Patrick Team GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport 1:18.3995 105.751
24 18 Milka Duno CITGO Dale Coyne Racing 1:22.2980 100.741
25 36 Francesco Dracone (R) Halkin Jet/LaPasta.biz Conquest Racing 1:21.2262 102.071

Finishing Order:
FP Car Driver Team Laps Time Status Points
1 12 Will Power Team Penske 75 01:52:34.1915 Running 53
2 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing 75 01:52:34.9347 Running 40
3 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing 75 01:52:40.8047 Running 35
4 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 75 01:52:42.0522 Running 32
5 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 75 01:52:44.6509 Running 30
6 22 Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 75 01:52:45.1010 Running 28
7 11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 75 01:52:45.7161 Running 26
8 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 75 01:52:46.0853 Running 24
9 02 Graham Rahal Newman/Haas Racing 75 01:52:51.6934 Running 22
10 19 Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne Racing 75 01:52:52.3984 Running 20
11 32 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology 75 01:52:54.4326 Running 19
12 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport 75 01:52:54.8674 Running 18
13 78 Simona De Silvestro Team Stargate Worlds/HVM 75 01:52:56.0154 Running 17
14 77 Alex Tagliani FAZZT Race Team 75 01:52:56.6773 Running 16
15 14 Vitor Meira A.J. Foyt Enterprises 75 01:52:58.4794 Running 15
16 7 Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport 75 01:53:20.3254 Running 14
17 06 Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas Racing 74 01:52:37.9202 Running 13
18 5 Takuma Sato KV Racing Technology 74 01:52:41.5137 Running 12
19 8 E.J. Viso KV Racing Technology 74 01:52:48.0343 Running 12
20 36 Francesco Dracone Conquest Racing 71 01:50:23.0449 Contact 12
21 2 Raphael Matos de Ferran Dragon Racing 67 01:40:15.663 Contact 12
22 18 Milka Duno Dale Coyne Racing 67 01:53:22.4818 Running 12
23 34 Bertrand Baguette Conquest Racing 65 01:36:41.9458 Contact 12
24 24 J.R. Hildebrand Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 38 00:58:45.5712 Contact 12
25 4 Dan Wheldon Panther Racing 0 00:00:15.5776 Contact 10

Driver's Standings:
CP Driver Champ Lead Oval Lead Road Lead Points Gap
1 Will Power X X 514 0
2 Dario Franchitti 455 -59
3 Scott Dixon X 419 -95
4 Ryan Briscoe 384 -130
5 Helio Castroneves 370 -144
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 360 -154
7 Tony Kanaan 330 -184
8 Justin Wilson 290 -224
9 Marco Andretti 284 -230
10 Dan Wheldon 269 -245

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Gotta love a name like Will Power. Though Moe R. (Reginald) Power may have been even better.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hate how they post speed in mph vs. lap times. I want to compare it with my lap times or ALMS lap times or whatever else.