Sonoma: Honda Racing race report

Power Sweeps Sonoma Weekend One year ago, Team Penske's Will Power watched the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma from his hospital bed in nearby Petaluma, just beginning the long recovery process from injuries - including a fractured back - that had ...

Power Sweeps Sonoma Weekend

One year ago, Team Penske's Will Power watched the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma from his hospital bed in nearby Petaluma, just beginning the long recovery process from injuries - including a fractured back - that had abruptly ended his season in a multi-car crash during practice at Infineon Raceway.

Flash forward to 2010, and Power swept all before him in his return to the hilly road course just north of San Francisco. Starting from the pole, Power led all but two of the 75 laps in Sunday's IZOD IndyCar Series race for his fifth victory of the season, winning the Mario Andretti Trophy as the best road-course racer in 2010 and increasing his lead in the overall drivers' championship standings to 59 points over third-finishing Dario Franchitti.

Power led from the start, surrendering the lead to Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon only during the final exchange of pit stops, and successfully held off a last, furious attack from the second-running Dixon after a late-race caution set up a final, six-lap sprint to the finish.

For the 13th consecutive race weekend in 2010, all 25 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers completed this weekend's event without a single failure for the Honda Indy V-8 engine, as drivers and teams logged a total of 8,214 trouble-free miles around the hilly 2.3-mile Infineon road course.

Power dictated the pace for much of the 75-lap race, pulling out as much as a six-second lead at several points between the day's four caution flags, while behind him the Target Chip Ganassi duo of Franchitti and Dixon mixed it up with Power's Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe for the remaining top five positions.

FAZZT Race Team's Alex Tagliani also figured prominently in the early laps before fading with handling issues, while Justin Wilson and the Andretti Autosport duo of Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay all moved up late in the race. But no one had the speed to match Power. Contact involving Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon and rookie Bertrand Baguette at the green flag set Wheldon upside-down on the front straight, but he escaped the dramatic accident without injury.

This weekend's race concludes the road-racing portion of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series championship. The series concludes with its final four events on 1.5-mile ovals, starting with next weekend's PEAK Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway near Joliet, IL, on Saturday, August 28.

Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) started 1st, finished 1st, his 5th IndyCar win of 2010 and 6th career victory; claims the Mario Andretti Trophy for most championship points scored on road/street circuits in 2010 and holds a 59-point lead in the drivers' championship: "It's unreal, to come back here a year after lying in hospital and have an absolutely perfect weekend. I can't thank Roger Penske and the entire team enough for sticking by me while I recovered. Today's race was tough; [Scott] Dixon was really strong there at the end, but we came through to the end. Now I'm looking forward to getting back on the ovals. I want to win on one of those before the end of the year, too."

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 6th, finished 2nd, remains third in the championship standings: "We went for the [alternate, softer compound] Reds [tires] at the last pit stop so that we could have a go at Will [Power], with [teammate] Dario [Franchitti] staying on the [primary] Blacks. I gave it all I could, and tried to stick my nose in there every chance I could, but it just didn't come off. We just weren't quite quick enough today. There's still a lot of racing left this season, so we'll see how these final four oval races shape up for us."

Eirk Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "You have to be happy for Will Power, what a remarkable comeback for him from what could have been career-ending injuries last year. That he came back to dominate this weekend is almost a Hollywood-type story, and certainly rewards Roger Penske and his team for the confidence they maintained in Will while he recovered. It was very pleasing to see a large and enthusiastic crowd here at Infineon. While there might not have been a lot of passing at the front, there certainly was no end of action through the field. It's been an exciting start to the second half of the '10 season with four road races; now we'll 'change gears' for the final four oval tracks of the year."

-source: honda racing

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Mario Andretti , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Will Power , Bertrand Baguette , Roger Penske
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , FAZZT Race Team