Commitment to Excellence: Team Penske has been the team to beat since 2005 when the IZOD IndyCar Series began racing at the Raceway in Sonoma. In 13 races overall, Team Penske drivers have combined for three race victories from the pole (Helio Castroneves in 2008, Will Power in 2010 and 2011), eight podiums and 11 top-five finishes.
Victory Loves Company: Team Penske has placed multiple drivers on the podium twice at Sonoma. The 2011 race saw Team Penske post an historic 1-2-3 finish with Power, Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe in that order at both the start and finish of the race. It marked the first Penske podium sweep since the 1994 season. Team Penske also finished 1-2 in 2008 when Castroneves took the checkered flag and Briscoe finished second. Team Penske drivers own an average finish of 3.8 in the 12 races they have completed at Sonoma.
Thrice Would Be Nice: Power has been dominant in his two races with Team Penske at the Sonoma circuit, earning the pole and race win in both 2010 and 2011. The only two-time IndyCar winner at the track, Power led 144 of 150 possible laps during those two races. The Australian driver was set to race at Sonoma in 2009 for Team Penske until he suffered a back injury during a practice session that ended his season.
Front Runner: Castroneves, who set the still-standing race lap record speed of 105.428 mph during his win from the pole in 2008, has not started lower than fourth in seven career races at Sonoma. He has finished in the top-five in all five of the races where he was running at the finish, with his 2008 victory and 2007 and 2011 runner-up efforts giving him three podium results.
Not Just a Passing Fancy: Team Penske President Tim Cindric and drivers Briscoe and Power worked closely with Sonoma Raceway President Steve Page in making three alterations to the circuit that should facilitate more passing in the race. The new 2.31 mile road course will feature a U-turn at Turn 7, a wider exit at Turn 9 and an extended entrance into Turn 11. The changes at Turns 7 and 11 will give the drivers a larger area to out-brake each other while the wider exit at Turn 9 provides an increased passing zone.
Reigning Again: With his second-place finish last race at Mid-Ohio, Power is back leading the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship standings, as the three-time race winner in 2012 paces the field with 379 points. His Team Penske teammate Castroneves is 26 points behind in third place and Briscoe is in ninth place with 267 points. Power also leads the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship by 63 points and can clinch his third consecutive series road course title in Sonoma with a sweep of the bonus points and a first- or second-place finish.
Perpetual Podium Performer: Briscoe has contributed to Team Penske’s consistent success at Sonoma with an average start and finish of third place. In his first race with Team Penske at Sonoma, Briscoe was part of a 2008 front row qualifying sweep with Castroneves which led to a 1-2 finish, the first of two consecutive runner-up results for Briscoe on the road course. Briscoe has finished on the podium in three of his four Sonoma races since 2008.
Magic Number: Castroneves’ 27 career victories place him two behind his mentor and Team Penske legend Rick Mears for the most wins all-time at Penske Racing. In addition, Power’s pole win at Mid-Ohio was the 27th of his career, tying him with Al Unser for ninth all-time.
Chevy Power: Chevrolet once again showed its ability to dominate on all circuit types as it placed seven cars in the top 10 at Mid-Ohio, including Team Penske’s Power and Briscoe. Led by Team Penske’s combined six poles and five race victories, Chevrolet has accounted for seven poles and eight wins in 12 races this season.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT THE GOPRO INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA:
Ryan Briscoe: “I am very excited for the race this weekend in Sonoma, it is always great racing there and hopefully we can get the No. 2 Hitachi team a win. I think the new changes to the track have enhanced what was already one of the best circuits we have and I look forward to taking advantage of the new turns. We want to finally get a win there for Team Penske and Chevrolet after coming close in previous races.”
Helio Castroneves: “It should be a great race this weekend at Sonoma, the Penske Truck Rental crew certainly have the car and Chevy engine right where they need to be. I'm glad we got to practice on the new track; I believe the changes will be a benefit for the drivers and make it even more exciting for the fans. I can't wait to get back on the track this weekend and hopefully we can repeat the good luck from before to get into victory lane.”
Will Power: “The reconfigured track is going to make it an exciting race for No. 12 Verizon car. After spending some time on the track, you can really see where the new opportunities are to make a move. Sonoma is certainly one of my favorite races on the schedule and we are focused on getting Verizon and Chevrolet back to victory lane.”
Source: Team Penske