Allan Brewer, IndyCar correspondent
Power wins from the pole, Castroneves, Briscoe take 2nd & 3rd
Team Penske’s Will Power closed to within 26 points of the IndyCar Series championship lead on Sunday by winning the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. Power led the race for 71 of its 75 laps, and spearheaded a dominant 1-2-3 finish that put teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe on the podium next to him.
“This is the best weekend ever,” proclaimed Power. “It was a perfect race. We’re back on top now.”
We still want to win this championship.
The win was Power’s 14th career IndyCar Series victory and gave him back-to-back wine country wins over the hilly, twisty road course in the surrounds of rural Sonoma, California.
It was Power’s fifth win of the 2011 competition year, and his third triumph from the pole position.
Penske team manager Tim Cindric added, “It’s a great 1-2-3 for Penske, a huge day. Our biggest concern was to make sure we had the best red (high-grip) tire we could at the end. Will really took good care of the tires today.”
Power’s dominant performance in qualifying earned him one point in the series championship race, which is led by Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti. Power also picked up 2 points for most-laps-led to shrink Franchitti’s advantage to 26 points with two road courses and two ovals remaining.
“Will was in a league of his own today,” said runner-up Castroneves. “I kept putting on the pressure but he had the better car of all of us.”
Power’s teammate Briscoe was third.
“It’s been a long time,” remarked Roger Penske of his team’s performance. “It’s just an awesome feeling. We had a good setup, better than Ganassi this weekend. We still want to win this championship.”
“I couldn’t get around any of them,” offered Franchitti, who came home fourth. “I spent all day staring at their back wing. They were clearly better than we were today.”
Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon, who finished fifth, agreed. “We had a tough day,” he said. “Our car seemed to get worse over the day. We have work to do.”
Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastian Bourdais finished sixth ahead of Newman/Haas Racing’s James Hinchcliffe and eighth-place Graham Rahal of Ganassi Racing. KV Racing Lotus’ E J Viso was ninth and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was tenth.
Giorgio Pantano, subbing for the injured Justin Wilson in the Dreyer & Reinbold car, was reordered by race officials to 17th position after forcing Bourdais wide on the last lap.
The race went off in an uneventful manner with little in the way of mishap, save for a yellow near the end and some scuffling for position on the final lap.
A failed throttle cable put KV Racing Lotus’ Tony Kanaan on the sidelines with only 21 laps gone.
At the final round of pit stops with 25 laps remaining the running order stood Power, Castroneves, Briscoe, Franchitti and Dixon, with Pantano, Hinchcliffe, Bourdais, Viso and Rahal in tow.
A full-course yellow resulted when Dragon Racing’s Ho Pin Tung put his car into the tire barrier in Turn 9 on Lap 65. The running order immediately prior stood Power, Castroneves, Briscoe, Franchitti, Dixon, Pantano, Hinchcliffe, Bourdais, Rahal, and Viso.
On the Lap 68 restart, Power roared away from Castroneves and climbed the big hill behind the pit grandstands toward his repeat victory at Infineon Raceway.
With five laps remaining the order was Power, Castroneves, Briscoe, Franchitti, Dixon, Pantano, Bourdais, Hinchcliffe, Rahal, and Viso.
Andretti Autosport’s Mike Conway and Sebastian Saavedra of Conquest Racing went off on the final lap without incident to bring the race to a close.
Race Results and current [[http://www.indycar.com/schedule/standings/|Championship Standings}}