Sonoma, Calif. - Ryan Briscoe had finished second, third and fourth at Sonoma in the past four years. Needless to say, he was due to visit Wine Country Winners Circle at the raceway at Sonoma.
Briscoe, who started next to Team Penske teammate and pole sitter Will Power, held off Power on a pair of late restarts and won the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma by 0.4408 of a second for his first victory since Texas in 2010. He became the seventh different winner in 13 IZOD IndyCar Series races this season.
Briscoe gained the lead on a pit stop sequence on Lap 65 when he hit the blend line ahead of Power, who had pitted a lap earlier but was caught behind traffic during the first full-course caution in more than 2½ races.
Power, who clinched the Mario Andretti Road Course Trophy for the third consecutive year, increased his championship points lead from five to 36 over Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport with two races remaining.
Hunter-Reay was running third behind the Team Penske duo when the No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car was bumped from behind by the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car driven by Alex Tagliani in Turn 7 on Lap 75 and stalled. The turn of events dropped Hunter-Reay to an 18th-place finish.
Dario Franchitti finished third and Rubens Barrichello posted a season-high fourth place after starting 11th. Graham Rahal placed fifth and Helio Castroneves was sixth. Simon Pagenaud clinched the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award with a seventh-place finish.
The top eight drivers are mathematically eligible for the championship heading to the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Sept. 2.
- Charlie Kimball, who grew up in Camarillo, Calif., was rooting for the Petaluma (Calif.) National team in the United States bracket of the Little League World Series this past week. The team, which fell in the semifinals, won the consolation game Aug. 26. Kimball and Honda Racing hosted members of the Petaluma American Little League at Sonoma on race day.
- London Olympic gold medalists Erin Cafaro (rowing) and Dana Vollmer (swimming) joined grand marshal Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento and former NBA star, in giving the command to start engines.
- Johnson, Vollmer and Cafaro are Cal graduates as is Sonoma president Steve Page. The curbing on the road course is painted blue and gold in tribute to the Bears.
- Scott Dixon met with youngsters of Teens Living with Cancer in the Target Chip Ganassi Racing garage at Sonoma. The two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion works with the organization to bring awareness to the special needs teens with cancer face. … Pre-race ceremonies included a six-jet air show by the Patriots Jet Team, the singing of the national anthem by Megan Hokaj, member of the Band of the Golden West at Travis Air Force Base, a parade of service vehicles,a fly-by of two Aero-Vodochody L-39Cs and an cannon salute.
- A total of 90 seconds of overtake assist (push-to-pass) will be afforded drivers today, with a maximum of 15 seconds per activation. There's no recharge time between activations, but there is a 3.5 second delay between the time the button is pushed and the system is activated.