1. Drivers test aero specs for season finale: Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato put in a full day on the 2-mile oval in preparation for the 250-lap season finale Sept. 15. All three started the session with the prescribed aero spec - fundamentally, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway spec minus a rear wing wicker.
"None of drivers had been flat around the circuit in the morning," said INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips, who attended the test. "It was a hot day and quite windy during the afternoon so it was challenging conditions. In the drivers' eyes, harder than Texas was in the race, so the conditions were very difficult. They thought it was a perhaps too hard and a bit more downforce was needed.
"During the course of the afternoon, I asked if they wanted to add the strakes to the package. Those that did felt that it put it in a similar state to Texas. As the track gripped up or cleaned up they would potentially be able to run flat for a few laps, and then tire degradation and traffic would take away that ability, which sounds very much like what occurred at Texas."
Phillips and the technical team will solicit feedback from a multiple-car test Sept. 6 on the oval to set the aero spec for the Sept. 15 early evening race. Seventeen cars also are scheduled to test Sept. 12.
"We'll be able to go into the week of Fontana knowing what we'll be able to run," Phillips added.
Pagenaud said he expects an entertaining and highly competitive champion-crowning race.
"I feel really good this year about the package for the ovals," he said. "The racing has been tremendous all year long. (The test day) was a little bit difficult, I've got to say. If it was a little bit more downforce, I'm sure we could do some good, good racing."
The racing surface also could be a bit unsettling, according to Sato.
"It's quite bumpy through the corners and the four corners are different, which makes it very challenging," he said. "We learned a lot and made good progress. It was a good start and a productive day."
2. Live & Global event features Rahal, Sato, Newgarden: Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato and Josef Newgarden will be guests of the Ortsbo's "Live & Global" from Sonoma Raceway at noon (ET) Aug. 25.
The event is hosted by fellow IZOD IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe, who wouldn't mind a few questions directed.
During the hour-long event, participants from around the globe can submit questions in more than 50 languages to be answered live at the event. Responses are typed in the language of preference at the event and instantly translated to all viewers.
Feedback from an Aug. 21 test will assist in nailing down the aerodynamic spec for the MAV TV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at Auto Club Speedway.
3. Texas resident to get ride of a lifetime: Honda's popular "Fastest Seat in Sports" sweepstakes returns at Sonoma, with Mario Andretti at the wheel of the two-seat Indy car.
He will take Jessica Gunn of Houston, Texas, on a ride around the challenging Sonoma road course in advance of the green flag. Enter for a chance at your ride at www.shophonda.com.
4. Bid on Rahal's safari-themed helmet and cheetah gloves: The Graham Rahal Foundation is auctioning his helmet and gloves from the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio at www.Celebrity.eBay.com through Aug. 31.
The foundation partnered with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to promote awareness of the new exhibit, Safari Africa, which is scheduled to open in 2014. His helmet had an African safari theme, and his gloves were in a cheetah pattern.
5. Of note: Will Power will make his 100th Indy car start at Sonoma…Scott Dixon is the only driver to complete every lap of all seven IZOD IndyCar Series events at Sonoma. … The United States Auto Club held an Indy car race in Sonoma in 1970, won by Dan Gurney. … Dario Franchitti has a series-high eight front- row starts this season and is riding a streak of six consecutive front-row starts, which includes three consecutive poles (Milwaukee, Iowa, Toronto).
Source: IZOD IndyCar Series