Date: Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015
Track: Sonoma Raceway, a 2.385-mile permanent road course in Sonoma, Calif.
Race distance: 85 laps / 202.7 miles
Entry List: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
Push-to-pass parameters: 10 activations for 15 seconds each
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary and three sets alternate for use through the weekend
Event website: http://RaceSonoma.com/
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2014 race winner: Scott Dixon
2014 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power, 1 minute, 17.4126 seconds, 110.912 mph
One-lap qualifying record: Will Power, 1:17.2393 seconds, 111.161 mph, Aug. 23, 2014 (Set in Round 1 of Qualifying)
NBCSN television broadcasts: Practice, 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 29 (live); Qualifying, 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 29 (live); Race, 4 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 30(live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer, alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Paul Page is chief announcer with analyst Davey Hamilton. Pit reporters are Dave Furst, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young, with Mark Jaynes and Jake Query serving as the turn announcers. Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying and races air live on network affiliates, Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR 15 app. Practice sessions are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR 15 app.
Video streaming: Practice sessions not televised are available live onRaceControl.IndyCar.com.
INDYCAR 15 app: The Verizon INDYCAR 15 app has exclusive features for Verizon Wireless customers, including interactive 3D Live View with real-time leaderboard and car telemetry to see where drivers are positioned, a leaderboard with enhanced 2D “marching ants” and car telemetry, in-car camera video streams from cameras that move 360 degrees and driver-pit crew chatter during the race.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, Aug. 28
2:30-6 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 1
Saturday, Aug. 29
10:45-11:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 2, NBCSN (live)
3:05-4:20 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (live beginning at 3:30 p.m.)
Sunday Aug. 30
10-10:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warmup
1 p.m. – NBCSN on air
2:07 p.m. – GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (85 laps/202.7 miles), NBCSN (live)
• Juan Pablo Montoya leads the Indy car championship with one race remaining for the first time in his career. He trailed Dario Franchitti with one race remaining in the 1999 CART season when he claimed his first Indy car championship.
• Montoya leads Graham Rahal by 34 points. Montoya has led the championship since winning the opening round of the championship at St. Petersburg in March.
• There are six drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship: Montoya, Rahal, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Josef Newgarden. Three drivers – Montoya, Dixon and Power – have previously won Indy car titles.
• Four drivers – Sebastien Bourdais, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud – were eliminated from championship contention at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 23.
• This is the 12th Indy car race at Sonoma. The winning driver at Sonoma has won the championship once in the prior 11 races (Franchitti, 2009).
* There have been nine different winners in 15 Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2015: Juan Pablo Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg and Indianapolis 500), James Hinchcliffe (NOLA Motorsports Park), Scott Dixon (Streets of Long Beach and Texas Motor Speedway), Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park and Streets of Toronto), Will Power (Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Carlos Munoz (Raceway at Belle Isle-1), Sebastien Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle-2 and Milwaukee), Graham Rahal (Auto Club Speedway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Iowa Speedway and Pocono Raceway). In 2014, there were a record-tying 11 different race winners. Dixon’s win at Long Beach on April 19 gave him sole possession of fifth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 36. He is the active leader in wins with 37 after his victory at Texas on June 6.
* The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 10th road/street course race of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule with a different driver winning eight of the previous nine races: Montoya (Streets of St. Petersburg), Hinchcliffe (NOLA Motorsports Park), Dixon (Streets of Long Beach), Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park and Toronto), Power (Grand Prix of Indianapolis), Munoz (Raceway at Belle Isle-1), Bourdais (Raceway at Belle Isle-2) and Rahal (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course).
* The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 12th Indy car race at Sonoma Raceway. Dixon is the defending race winner. Power has won four of the last five pole positions. This will be the fourth 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.
* Power and Dixon are the only drivers to win at Sonoma more than once, Dixon won the race in 2007 and 2014, Power won the races in 2010, 2011and 2013. Past winners Dixon, Power, Ryan Briscoe (2012), Helio Castroneves (2008), Marco Andretti (2006) and Tony Kanaan (2005) are entered in this year’s race.
* Dan Gurney won the first Indy car race at Sonoma under USAC sanction in 1970. Mark Donohue was the pole sitter.
* There have been five different pole winners in the previous 10 Verizon IndyCar Series races at Sonoma. Briscoe (2005), Dixon (2006), Dario Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2013), Castroneves (2008) and Power (2010-12 and 2014). All but Franchitti are entered at Sonoma this weekend.
* Three drivers have won the race from the pole – Castroneves (2008), Franchitti (2009) and Power (2010-11).
* Three drivers have competed in every Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma – Castroneves, Dixon and Kanaan. Dixon is the only driver to complete every lap of every race at Sonoma.
* Power has three wins and four poles in his five previous starts at Sonoma.
* Briscoe has four podium finishes in nine previous starts at Sonoma.
* Team Penske has won at Sonoma five times, including four of the last five races with Will Power (2010-11 and 2013) and Ryan Briscoe (2012). Chip Ganassi Racing has won three times at Sonoma (Dixon in 2007 and 2014 and Franchitti in 2009) and Andretti Autosport has won twice (Kanaan in 2005 and Andretti in 2006).
* With its next Verizon IndyCar Series victory, Chip Ganassi Racing will earn its 100th Indy car race win.
* Kanaan seeks to start his 249th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Dixon looks to make his 190th consecutive start this weekend.
* The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season marked the competition debut of aerodynamic bodywork kits designed, manufactured and supplied by Chevrolet and Honda that attach to the Dallara IR-12 chassis used by all entrants. Cars are differentiated by their shape as the manufacturers have designed a separate aero kit specification for road and street course/short ovals and another for superspeedways. References to the cars incorporate the name of the corresponding kit manufacturer.
* The No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb BHA with Curb-Agajanian crew of Gabby Chaves claimed the Firestone Pit Stop Performance Award at the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 23 with a total pit-lane time of 2 minutes, 31.30 seconds. It is the first-ever Pit Stop Performance win for Bryan Herta Autosport. The No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb crew will receive its $10,000 award during pre-race festivities at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma pre-race quotes:
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Verizon IndyCar Series is going into Sonoma with heavy hearts this weekend. I had the pleasure – and I do mean pleasure – to race against Justin Wilson for many years in this series. To see how hard he worked was an inspiration to many people in the paddock. Justin was a great driver – a winning driver – but more than that he was just a fantastic human being. There is no other way to put it. My wife, Liz, worked with him for a couple of years so we became mates during our time together in the sport. This really hits home for both she and I. No one had a bad thing to say about Justin. No one. He will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to his family. We are all thinking about them.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Obviously the championship is important to everyone at Team Penske and our goal is to do our best to wrap that up at Sonoma this weekend, but it pales in comparison to the feeling we all have about losing our friend and competitor, Justin Wilson. I had the opportunity to compete with him in several different series, beginning in 1995 when I moved to Europe. He was the same guy then as he was when I came back into the Verizon IndyCar Series last year – always with a smile on his face but someone that was a great competitor on the track. The sport needs more like him and his loss is tremendous. I also have a wife and kids and I’m saddened for what they are going through.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “We all know that we have a job to do this weekend at Sonoma, but it doesn’t make it any easier as we deal with the tragic loss of Justin Wilson. A friend to everyone in the paddock, Justin was the kind of race car driver that everyone should want to be. He was a winning driver, a fan favorite and someone that we were all proud to know. I raced with him for many years and never saw him do anything that would be considered out of line. He was a gentleman, both on and off the track, and I pray for the comfort of his family and friends.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda): “It is a really difficult time for the entire INDYCAR community. I’m terribly saddened by Justin’s passing and I will be racing in Sonoma with a heavy heart. I’ve been very proud to fill the seat for Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car this season. It’s been great to follow his recovery and it won’t be long until we see him back behind the wheel. I’m also looking forward to bringing home a good result for all the Arrow executives coming out to the track this weekend.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Sonoma is a great place to end the season. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the calendar. I really like the layout because it’s very challenging and feels great when you can put a lap together. With so many different types of corners, it’s always a challenge to find the perfect balance. It will be a tough weekend as our thoughts are with Justin’s family and friends. He was a former teammate of mine and will be missed terribly.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 8 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling to be returning to the car this weekend. We’re obviously dealing with the loss of Justin and thinking about his family. On the other side, I’m excited to get back racing and I’ve been training hard and preparing myself physically and mentally for Sonoma. I want to help the team end the season on a high note, but it’s obviously a challenge to get ready given the circumstances. I’m motivated to do a great job and looking forward to working with the team again to deliver strong results for them in Sonoma.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “We lost an amazing human being in Justin Wilson and we will all miss him to no end. We’re all going to be thinking of him and the Wilson family this weekend in Sonoma, and honoring Justin by doing what he loved to do – which is race. Sonoma is huge for us from the standpoint that it’s Target’s biggest race too. It’s a fantastic race and it’s been very exciting there the last few years. For us to win last year was really cool. It was kind of our turnaround on the season to try to regain some strength on what started out to be a pretty slow start to the year. I’m excited that Team Target is still in contention for the championship, with this being a double-points race. Hopefully we’ll be celebrating with a lot of wine in victory circle for a championship and a race victory.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Heading into Sonoma this weekend, all my thoughts and prayers are with Justin Wilson’s family. It’s not easy to switch your mind back into race mode after something like this happens, but I know we’ll all come together and finish the season strong in Justin’s honor. I’ve had some strong results there, with the highlight being my win in 2005. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet is definitely capable of getting another win this weekend with how consistent we’ve been all year. I’d really like to finish out the season the same way we finished last season in Fontana – with a win.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “I think it is very hard for all of us to race in Sonoma after we lost our friend, Justin Wilson, INDYCAR’s most respected driver. But we will race for Justin’s parents, his wife Julia, daughters and entire family and sport. I will race with my deepest condolences to his family. Regarding Sonoma, it is one of the most dynamic road courses in our recent calendar, so I always love racing there. Last year we had our best finish at this challenging track, and it will be double points this year so we will be doing our best to finish high again.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “Justin was the epitome of a great guy, an incredible teammate, great father and a wonderful friend. My time spent with him will forever be time I cherish, and I learned more from him than any other teammate I ever had. He led by example, he cared about others and the greater good, and he had a genuine way about him that you always knew you were safe when he was around you on the racetrack. We will race to honor him this weekend. Last year (at Sonoma), we got through a bunch of challenges and we were able to get to the front of the pack and lead a bunch of laps, but unfortunately we didn’t top off with fuel on one of the last yellows so while we led the last 18 laps we needed a yellow the entire time. We saved a lot of fuel and damn near made it, but we had to stop with a couple of laps to go for a splash of fuel. With that in mind, I feel pretty confident that we can have a similar sort of race this year in terms of running up front and being a contender. At this point we have to go there to win, we have no other choice. In order to beat (Juan Pablo) Montoya, we have no choice. We’re going to go all out, do the best we possibly can and see what happens. I still have a lot of confidence going into race weekend. Obviously I would have liked to have the type of momentum we had after Mid-Ohio going into Sonoma, but it is what it is. We went from the highest of highs after Mid-Ohio to the lowest of lows, but we’re going to go out there with a fresh mentality, attack as hard as we can, get the best result we possibly can and have some fun.
RODOLFO GONZALEZ (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “I am really excited to be back in the car. I have to thank Dale (Coyne) not only for this race, but for giving me the opportunity to race during the season. Yet again, I will have to adapt to a new track which looks (to have) very high G (forces) and very tricky. I take good confidence from my performance in Mid-Ohio, although we got a bit unlucky in the race, but we certainly proved to have the speed. It will be a great pleasure working again with my engineers and mechanics, as they are a very capable bunch of guys. I think the focus will be to capitalize on the race pace and qualifying that we showed in Ohio and do it even better in Sonoma so we can end the season on a high.”
LUCA FILIPPI (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “We are very sad over the loss of Justin Wilson and I know the entire CFH team is thinking of his family. We will go to Sonoma because we know that is what he would want us to do. While we are there, hopefully we can get a strong result to end the season well. More importantly, I hope it is a good race that will honor Justin.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet): “I know we are all going to Sonoma with a heavy heart following the passing of our friend, Justin Wilson. The news was a stark reminder that, although we love this sport, it can also be very cruel. I know all of us want to go to Sonoma this weekend and win for Justin because we all know what Indy car racing meant to him. We will all miss his bright smile. My thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family. I hope they are able to find peace in this time.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “It’s been a very difficult few days for the sport with the news of Justin’s passing. However, Justin was a racer and one of the great ambassadors for our sport and, with knowing that, I’m sure he would be pushing for us all to put on a great show this weekend. Sonoma is one of the most interesting circuits on the calendar, it’s low grip and almost street-course-like in places, but then it’s extremely fast and high grip in others. The race in Pocono did not go well for us despite having a decent car in the race, due to an issue at the first pit stop and then being squeezed under the apron later in the race. It was extremely disappointing but I’m hopeful we can put that behind us and finish out the season strong this weekend on one of my favorite circuits.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “The racing world lost a friend, a competitor and a brother in Justin Wilson. We will be racing with heavy hearts this weekend in Sonoma, but Justin would have wanted everyone to continue doing what they love and getting back behind the wheel. That’s what we will do and we will race in honor of Justin. Hopefully we have an exciting race for everyone to watch and we will make Justin proud.”
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 77 SPM Racing Honda): “I’m very happy to be back in INDYCAR for the Sonoma race with a great team like Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and SMP Racing. I had such an interesting season here last year with this team. I enjoyed all the new tracks and it was very different from racing in Europe. It was a long journey to make it up here again and I will use this opportunity to give it 100 percent of my effort. I would like to dedicate this race to the memory of Justin Wilson, who was a great race driver, man and father. I will miss him a lot.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): “Obviously the biggest thing on our minds right now is Justin, just one of the best guys in the paddock. We’re sending all of our thoughts and well-wishes to his family as we head to Sonoma. For the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, the focus for the finale is to finish this tough Verizon IndyCar Series season on a high note. With it being double points, we have the chance to move up a bit in the championship standings with a good result, and I think that can go a long way as far as our confidence heading into the off-season. We’ll be working hard as soon as the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet rolls out on Friday.”
GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda): “After our team’s best race of the year in Pocono where we were in contention for the win until the failure, we are in a good position to use this confidence and momentum to boost our best finish and finish out the year strong. We look forward to bringing home our best finish of the year in the No. 98 Alarm.com Bowers & Wilkins Castrol EDGE Honda. Of course, the Wilson family will be on our minds all weekend. Justin was a role model to us all, a kind-hearted human being who left us too soon. I’m just praying to God to help and guide his family through this.”