IndyCar weekend in Sonoma begins
World Challenge Saturday, Grand Prix Sunday, Power’s 3-peat try, Olympians
Testing the new Indy car last Friday in preparation for the IZOD IndyCar Series weekend starting today at the Sonoma Raceway is Scott Dixon, who won the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma in 2007, and is the only driver to complete every lap of all seven IndyCar events in the Valley.
With newly designed cars racing through its newly modified road course, the Sonoma Raceway is hosting the high-energy, and always exciting, IZOD IndyCar Series weekend in the Valley, which begins today with a full slate of practice and qualifying.
Highlighting tomorrow’s, Saturday, Aug. 25, busy Indy schedule will be the Cadillac Sonoma Grand Prix for the SCCA World Challenge, which is the season finale for the World Challenge Series, and will include points leader Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim, who are both from Cadillac.
Then the featured GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma takes place this Sunday, Aug. 26, covering 85 laps on Sonoma Raceway’s newly modified 12-turn, 2.31-mile road course – featuring changes to Turns 7, 9 and 11 designed to enhance passing – with Will Power (Team Penske) trying to become a three-peat winner of the event.
With his victory in 2010 making him the sixth different winner in six years at Sonoma – preceded by Tony Kanaan (2005), Marco Andretti (’06), Scott Dixon (’07), Helio Castroneves (’08), and Dario Franchitti (’09) – Power became the first-ever repeat champion, with a third Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma title in reach.
Adding to the anticipation for Sunday’s race is having 15 drivers still eligible for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, including the top-five in the current standings – Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport), Castroneves (Team Penske), Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), and James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport).
This year’s IZOD IndyCar Series weekend is featuring its new 2012 Indy car, which was designed to incorporate improved safety standards and accommodate drivers of varying height, while including elements that improve raceability, while reducing the costs to the teams.
The grand marshal for Sunday’s GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma race, which is the 13th race on the IZOD IndyCar Series’ 15-race schedule, is former high-school, college and professional basketball great, and current Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson, who is the first African-American and native Sacramentan to hold the position.
Joining Johnson in giving the official command of, “Drivers, start your engines,” are a pair of gold-medal winning United States Olympians – Tyler Clary and Erin Cafaro.
At the recently concluded 2012 London Games, Clary captured swimming gold in the 200-meter backstroke, while Cafaro won her second consecutive gold medal as part of the U.S. Rowing Women’s 8+ boat team.
Clary, who hopes to become a racecar driver once his swimming career is over, is a guest of IndyCar, while Cafaro is a guest of the TrueCar Racing Women Powered Initiative.
A University of California, Berkeley, graduate, Cafaro – a native of Modesto and currently living in Marin – entered the record book in London, along with her teammates, as the first female team in the history of United States rowing to score back-to-back Olympic gold medals. They are also seven-time world champions and undefeated since 2006.
The final major racing event at Sonoma Raceway will be the new FIA World Touring Car Championship, with its first-ever race on American soil slated for Sept. 21 through 23, and will be highlighted by two 30-minute sprint races on Sunday, Sept. 23. Manufacturers include BMW, Chevrolet, SEAT and Volvo.
The 24th season of Wednesday Night Drags on Sonoma Raceway’s world-famous drag strip will run every Wednesday evening through Nov. 14, along with the motorsport of drifting, and the equally popular “Top the Cops” program.
“Top the Cops” is designed to help take illegal racing off the streets and bring it to a safe, legal and controlled environment, allowing high school students the opportunity to drag race against law enforcement officers, who will be driving their squad cars.
To purchase special ticket packages and individual or weekend tickets for the Indy Grand Prix weekend, for Wednesday Night Drags details, or for general Sonoma Raceway information, call 800-870-RACE (7223), or visit www.infineonraceway.com/tickets, www.ticketmaster.com, or racesonoma.com/indycar. Camping is also available for all major events.
Today (Aug. 24): Formula Car Challenge practice, 11:30 a.m. to noon; World Challenge Touring Car (TC) and Touring Car B Spec qualifying, 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.; World Challenge GT/GTS qualifying, 1 to 1:45 p.m.; Formula Car Challenge practice, 2 to 2:30 p.m.; GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma practice, 2:50 to 4:05 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 25: Brasil IT and Pole Day – Formula Car Challenge qualifying, 10 to 10:30 a.m.; GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma practice, 10:50 to 11:50 a.m.; Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma World Challenge GT/GTS Race, noon to 1:15 p.m.; Formula Car Challenge Race 1, 1:30 to 2 p.m.; IZOD IndyCar Series Brasil IT and Pole Day qualifying, 2:30 to 3:50 p.m.; World Challenge TC and B Spec Race 1 and 2, 4:10 to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 26: GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma warm-up, 9 to 9:30 a.m.; World Challenge TC and B Spec Race 3, 9:50 to 10:30 a.m.; World Challenge Marque Race, noon to 12:20 p.m.; Patriot Jet Team Air Show, 12:25 to 12:50 p.m.; GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma pre-race ceremonies, 12:50 to 1:45 p.m.; GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Race (85 Laps), 1:45 p.m.; Formula Car Challenge Race 2.
Qualifying: Saturday, Aug. 25, 3 p.m., NBC Sports Network.
Race: Sunday, Aug. 26, 1 p.m., NBC Sports Network.