The weekend of Sept. 14-16 marks the series’ 14th consecutive year in Sonoma, and for the fourth consecutive year, the Verizon IndyCar Series will host its season finale on the Sonoma Raceway road course. The weekend marks the last IndyCar event in Sonoma for the foreseeable future, as the series shifts its schedule for the 2019 season.
But what’s it all mean? What is the spectator to look for? What is at stake? Here’s information on the upcoming weekend of racing and other events:
What: Grand Prix of Sonoma is the final race on the Verizon IndyCar Series’ 17-race schedule, which features six races on oval tracks, six on permanent road courses and five on temporary street circuits.
Circuit: 12-turn, 2.385-mile road course. The race will span 85 laps, or 202.7 miles.
2017 Series Champion: Josef Newgarden (Team Penske)
2017 Race Winner: Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske)
2018 IndyCar Series Season: Heading into the finale in Sonoma, four drivers remain mathematically eligible to win the championship. Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) holds a slim 29-point lead over Nevada City native Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport). Will Power (Team Penske) sits in third, while reigning champion Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) is fourth.
Dixon, Rossi, Power and Newgarden have each posted three wins so far this season, and with double points on the line in Sonoma, the championship will likely come down to the final lap.
Double Points Race: Double points will be awarded for the season finale. One hundred points will be awarded to the winner of a double-points race, with the runner-up receiving 80 points and the third-place finisher receiving 70 points. Bonus points will be awarded to the pole winner (one point), for leading at least one lap (one point) and for most laps led (two points).
New Aero Kit: The 2018 season featured the introduction of universal aero kits to be used by all teams. The road course configuration features multi-element wings on the rear and front wings for added downforce, equal padding on both sides of the cockpit, large brake ducts in the front and rear to allow more cooling and all tires are pointed inward to help the car at speed turn both left and right and maintain a good contact patch to the road surface.
Also: The Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend will also include racing from the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, Formula Car Challenge and Historic Trans Am Series.
For the complete weekend schedule, including television times and special events, visit sonomaraceway.com.
Team Penske swept the podium in 2017 as Simon Pagenaud won his second consecutive Grand Prix of Sonoma, while teammate Josef Newgarden finished second to wrap up the championship, becoming the first American champion in the series since Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012.
Team Penske has won three of the last four series titles with Will Power (2014), Pagenaud (2016) and Newgarden (2017).
Northern California native Alexander Rossi (Nevada City), driver of the No. 27 Napa Auto Parts Honda, will contend for the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship this year. Rossi won the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016.
Eight different IndyCar drivers have won in Sonoma since the series debuted in 2005: Tony Kanaan (‘05), Marco Andretti (‘06), Helio Castroneves (‘08), Dario Franchitti (‘09), Ryan Briscoe (’12), Power (‘10, ’11, ‘13), Scott Dixon (’07, ’14, ‘15) and Pagenaud (’16, ‘17).