15 Drivers Still Eligible for INDYCAR Title Heading Into Sonoma Race Weekend


SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 20, 2012) — Intensity is at an all-time high as there are 15 drivers still eligible for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship heading into this weekend’s GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Aug. 24-26.

In fact, just 28 points separate the first through fourth competitors, so expect plenty of action when the top open-wheel drivers in the country invade the Sonoma Valley for the eighth consecutive year.

“The fans will be in for a treat,” said Will Power (Team Penske), current points leader and two-time defending Sonoma champion.

Yes they will. Power leads second-place Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) by just five points heading into Sonoma. Both drivers have three victories apiece this year but Hunter-Reay has never won in Sonoma; his best finish in Wine Country was eighth (2010).

Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) sits in third place, just 26 markers behind his teammate, Power. Castroneves posted a victory in Sonoma in 2008 — he also sat on the pole that year.  He is anxious to test the modified track layout with changes to Turns 7, 9 and 11 under race conditions. Castroneves tested last Friday, along with 19 other drivers.

“I think (the changes) came out really well. A big credit to the track for making it happen,” Castroneves said. “I think the track is great and the changes seem to create a lot more passing, but remember the tires are going to go away and that’s where things are going to get interesting.”

Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) and James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport) round out the top five entering Sonoma, respectively.

The 15 drivers eligible for the championship with three races left is the most since 2006, when there were 13 eligible. This marks the final natural-terrain road course left on the schedule as the series has final stops in Baltimore (street course) and Fontana (oval).

Race tickets are still available for this weekend, which also includes Saturday’s Cadillac Sonoma Grand Prix for the SCCA World Challenge. It marks the series’ season finale. Top competitors include points leader Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim (both from Cadillac). Call 800-870-7223 (RACE) or visit racesonoma.com for details; tickets start at just $39 on Sunday, Aug. 26, and children 12 and under are free both Friday and Saturday. Parking is free all weekend.




GoPro Indy® Grand Prix of Sonoma Weekend
WHAT: Big O Tires Racing Season Presents: GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
WHEN: Aug. 24-26
CIRCUIT: 2.31-mile, 12-turn road course
2011 WINNER: Will Power (Team Penske)
NOTABLE: The weekend will include Brasil IT+ Pole Day on Saturday, Aug. 25, as well as the Cadillac Sonoma World Challenge and Formula Car Challenge.
TICKETS: $10-$65 single day/$65-$85 weekend; parking is FREE and kids 12 and under are FREE (Friday and Saturday). Garage passes are available for purchase.
INFORMATION: 800-870-RACE (7223), racesonoma.com/indy, ticketmaster.com