James Hinchcliffe, Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, No. 27
Hinchcliffe heads to Sonoma ranked fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship points standings and is still mathematically in contention for the lead. He tested last week at the newly-configured raceway alongside his three teammates.
"I'm really glad we got to test (at Sonoma Raceway) because with this new car and the new track layout there was a lot to learn. The test certainly didn't go super smooth for us, but one of the Team Go Daddy strengths this year has been fighting through tough situations... And with only three races left and so many drivers still in contention, we need to fight.
"The new layout is interesting. It might create some more passing, but likely due to drivers making mistakes based on what we saw at the test! There are some tough corners because at the end of the day, Indy cars aren't built to drive around 30 mile-per-hour hairpins. But the extended distance (the race distance has been increased from 75 laps to 85 laps) should really let us race hard and be flat out all day, which will also make this race very physical!"
Did You Know: This will be Hinchcliffe's 29th career start in the IZOD IndyCar Series, his second at Sonoma Raceway where he finished seventh in 2011.
Marco Andretti, Team RC Cola Chevrolet, No. 26
For Marco Andretti, Sonoma Raceway will always be special, as it was the site of his first career IndyCar victory. As an 18-year old rookie in 2006, Marco led 30 laps to win at Sonoma. The track will be different this year than in the past, as major changes were made to three corners on the 12-turn, 2.31-mile road course.
"The changes in the track should produce more passing. We were a little off-pace (at the test session last Friday, Aug. 17), but we'll work with our teammates to find the speed. We know where we can find it."
Did You Know: Marco Andretti will throw out the first pitch of the Thursday night, August 23 Major League Baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the visiting Atlanta Braves. The game is scheduled for a 7:15 pm PT start, but get there a early to see Marco in action.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet, No. 28
With three races remaining in the 2012 season, Hunter-Reay is second in the championship standings, trailing Will Power by only five points. Hunter-Reay had led the point standings for two races after his torrid streak of three consecutive mid-season wins.
"Our Sonoma test was a productive one, and we've found a direction, but we still have a lot of work to do over the race weekend if we are going to contend for a win. I believe, with our strong three-car team, that we can come back and improve through each practice session leading into qualifying. We're focused on nothing else.
"With the new track layout, we may see more passing - which is much needed at Sonoma. Plus, the race is 10 laps longer this year, so it makes it almost a certain three-stop race. You'll have most of the field pushing 100 percent for the entire race rather than saving fuel. As drivers, we prefer it that way and we'll have loads of support from a huge turnout of Andretti Autosport partners, supporters and sponsors.."
Did You Know: As a championship contender, Hunter-Reay spent a day in New York City after the Mid-Ohio race, doing a series of interviews and meeting with many national media outlets, from Sports Illustrated, Maxim and Men's Journal magazines, as well as Bloomberg News. Hunter-Reay also stopped by the SiriusXM studios, where he appeared on three different channels in rapid succession.
Sebastian Saavedra, Team AFS Racing / Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, No. 17
Sonoma will mark Saavedra's second IZOD IndyCar Series start with AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport this season. His previous race was the Indianapolis 500, where he finished 26th. This will be his second time at Sonoma with INDYCAR, after finishing 14th in 2011. He is currently competing full-time in Firestone Indy Lights, where he is third in the championship point standings.
"I am quite excited to be going back to the Indy cars. It is an amazing opportunity given to me by Gary Peterson (AFS) and Michael Andretti which I plan to take full advantage of. We tested last Friday and felt comfortable with the car. It helps to have the same group of people that have been working with me during the Indy Lights season. We have high expectations for the race with the great season the team has had so far. Having the chance to work with James, Marco and Ryan again is going to be interesting. The month of May was a great experiment to get along, so it should be even better here."
Did You Know: This will be Saavedra's second time at Sonoma with INDYCAR, after finishing 14th in 2011.
Source: Andretti Autosport