The ups and downs of Sonoma Raceway next for Chevrolet teams

DETROIT – August 22, 2012 – The inaugural season of Chevrolet’s re-entry into IZOD IndyCar Series competition is rapidly nearing the finish line. Sonoma Raceway is next up for the Chevrolet IndyCar V6-powered teams.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Chevrolet

Photo by: Covy Moore

Situated in the scenic landscape in Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco, California, Sonoma Raceway has long been a favorite track of drivers and fans. But for the running of GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday afternoon, the 2.31-mile, 12-turn permanent road course has undergone some changes to turns seven, nine and 11 designed to enhance passing opportunities.

In addition, IndyCar officials have made an adjustment to the push-to-pass assist for round 13 of the 15-race 2012 season. A total of 90 seconds will be afforded drivers, with a maximum of 15 seconds per activation.

"After mostly positive reports from our Chevrolet IndyCar V6 teams and drivers that tested on the new configuration at Sonoma Raceway, this weekend's race should be competitive and exciting,’ said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series. “Of course, it won't be without its challenges. In addition to the changes made to the track, the specifications for the push-to-pass have been changed from a 5 second delay to a 3.5 second delay, based on driver feedback and tailoring the feature to the Sonoma circuit layout. Also, the amount of time available has been reduced by 10 seconds to a total of 90 seconds.”

With the ongoing heated battle for the Series’ Manufacturers’ Championship, as well as four Team Chevy drivers in the top-five of the Driver Championship Standings, the intensity heading to Sonoma is at an all-time high. Chevrolet heads to Sonoma leading the Manufacturer point standings with eight victories to-date.

Will Power sits atop the standings with three victories to his credit through 12 races. Ryan Hunter-Reay, also with three wins, is second in the points order, just five points down to Power. Two-time winner Helio Castroneves is third in points, and James Hinchcliffe rounds out the top-five in the standings.

"As the season is winding down, the battle for the Championship is tight,” Berube concluded. “Every position is valuable points to Team Chevy. Along with our technical partners, we are focused on providing all of our teams with the best possible tools to finish at the front for maximum points. We believe the continued focus on preparation, strategy and execution are the keys to success in the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship."

In previous IndyCar races at Sonoma, four current Chevrolet IndyCar V6 drivers have visited the Winner’s Circle. Power is the defending race champion, and also took the win in 2010. Castroneves took the trip to Victory Lane in 2008. Marco Andretti was the Sonoma race winner in 2006, and Tony Kanaan captured the win in 2005.


WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – POINTS LEADER: “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.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT – 2ND IN POINTS: "Our Sonoma test was a productive one, and we've found a direction, but we still have a lot of work to do over the race weekend if we are going to contend for a win. I believe, with our strong three-car team, that we can come back and improve through each practice session leading into qualifying. We're focused on nothing else. With the new track layout, we may see more passing - which is much needed at Sonoma. Plus, the race is 10 laps longer this year, so it makes it almost a certain three-stop race. You'll have most of the field pushing 100 percent for the entire race rather than saving fuel. As drivers, we prefer it that way and we'll have loads of support from a huge turnout of Andretti Autosport partners, supporters and sponsors."

HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 PENSKE TRUCK RENTAL CHEVROLET – 3RD IN POINTS: “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.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 TEAM GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 5TH IN POINTS: "I'm really glad we got to test (at Sonoma Raceway) because with this new car and the new track layout there was a lot to learn. The test certainly didn't go super smooth for us, but one of the Team Go Daddy strengths this year has been fighting through tough situations... And with only three races left and so many drivers still in contention, we need to fight. The new layout is interesting. It might create some more passing, but likely due to drivers making mistakes based on what we saw at the test! There are some tough corners because at the end of the day, Indy cars aren't built to drive around 30 miles-per-hour hairpins. But the extended distance (the race distance has been increased from 75 laps to 85 laps) should really let us race hard and be flat out all day, which will also make this race very physical!"

TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 MOUSER ELECTRONICS/ GEICO KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 7TH IN POINTS: "I am looking forward to getting back to Sonoma and experiencing the new track layout. I have heard positive things from some of the guys that tested there last week. In the past I have had some good races in Sonoma and with just three races left in the season it is important that we have a good weekend and score as many points as possible.”

RYAN BRISCOE, NO. HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – 9TH IN POINTS: “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.”

ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 PANTHER/DREYER & REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET – 11TH IN POINTS: “We are in the last stretch and I feel that the last races are very special because they are almost like home races for me. First, with Sonoma, I live in California so that’s a home race for me and then we go to Baltimore, home of the Orioles and then we come back to LA for the last race. We tested at Sonoma and it was a good test. Not only did we learn about the car but I think that the car looks awesome with the TranSystems paint job and the Dali face. It’s definitely hits a home run. I think that it’s great that the track is trying to improve the race and the show. I think particularly Turn 7 will bring more excitement to the race because it will provide more overtaking and the chicane in Turn 9 is going to be also more fun to see the cars going through there. I think that the race is going to be very exciting and mainly because of the tires that Firestone decided to bring to these tracks. I believe it will be a race like Barber where when the tire is new it’s a lot faster than when it’s old and it will provide a lot of action on track when people are at different points of their tire life. I expect to be a busy and entertaining race for both the fans and the drivers.”

JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET – 14TH IN POINTS: "I'm really stoked about the weekend. We tested last Friday in the National Guard Chevy and had a really productive day after a strong race weekend in Mid-Ohio. The track changes at Sonoma this year should really help create more passing opportunities. They adjusted two places where passing hadn't been an option previously and now I think both turns will be places you can be successful in our passing attempts. And obviously the deal we're doing with the 49ers is really cool and I'm excited to go to the 49ers facility on Thursday and see (49ers head coach & Panther Racing co-owner) Jim Harbaugh again. Meeting him last year it was pretty cool to see how much he knows about IndyCar racing and that he was totally up to speed on what was going on at Panther."

MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 TEAM DR. PEPPER ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET – 15TH IN POINTS: "The changes in the track should produce more passing. We were a little off-pace (at the test session last Friday, Aug. 17), but we'll work with our teammates to find the speed. We know where we can find it."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO, NO. 8 BMC/EMBRASE KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 17TH IN POINTS: “I could not believe how steep the Sonoma track was when I saw it for the first time. I have being a fan of Sonoma for a long, long time and I was looking forward to going there for my first test there. I was impressed with the track and even if we haven't tested on the new layout I hope that we will have a good run and a good weekend.”

E.J. VISO, NO. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET – 20TH IN POINTS: “Heading back to Sonoma is always nice. Hopefully, some of the issues we have been having in the last races will have been solved. We tested there at the beginning of the year, but unfortunately missed the test last week. This year Sonoma will have some changes in track layout, which we all think will bring some excitement and more action, however I am hoping that we will not now be behind the other teams that did test last week and have a successful weekend.”

ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S PREMIUM ULTRA VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET – 21ST IN POINTS: “I’m impressed with new layout at Sonoma. We were able to test there last week and the three new corners should be very good for the race. There are a couple of places that are easier to pass now. It was a little tough at first to visually see the proper breaking points in the new turns. But I think everyone got used to those spots by the end of the testing session. You can get a long run going into turn 11 now and turn 7 seems better for racing too. I always like going to Sonoma. The area is beautiful and the track is challenging. The crowd at Sonoma is really into the racing too. They are knowledgeable. This event is big for Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka our primary sponsor and our associate sponsor BevMo. The Bay Area is a good market for them and I enjoy the activities we have in conjunction with the race. It will be a busy weekend but that is part of being a driver and a team owner.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS NO. 7 TRUECAR-MCAFEE DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET, 24TH IN POINTS (RUNNING THE STREET AND ROAD COURSE RACES IN 2012 FOR DRAGON RACING): “After two productive tests at Sonoma, it is by far the race I feel the best prepared since the start of the season. Our number 7, True Car / Mc Afee / Chevrolet entry has been marching forward lately; and our speed was promising in California last Friday. I am excited to get going and hope we can get our first podium of the year!”

KATHERINE LEGGE, NO. 6 TRUECAR DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET, 26TH IN POINTS (RUNNING PARTIAL SCHEDULE IN 2012 FOR DRAGON RACING): "I am very much looking forward to Sonoma, it is a fantastic track and I enjoyed testing there. It will be great to be racing on a road course again. I am very grateful to Chevrolet for making an engine available to us, as this is a very big race for my sponsor TrueCar and we have a lot of very cool things planned for the weekend. The whole team is very excited."

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, N0. 17 AFS RACING ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET (SECOND IZOD INDYCAR SERIES APPEARANCE IN 2012): "I am quite excited to be going back to the Indy cars. It is an amazing opportunity given to me by Gary Peterson (AFS) and Michael Andretti which I plan to take full advantage of. We tested last Friday and felt comfortable with the car. It helps to have the same group of people that have been working with me during the Indy Lights season. We have high expectations for the race with the great season the team has had so far. Having the chance to work with James, Marco and Ryan again is going to be interesting. The month of May was a great experiment to get along, so it should be even better here."

Source: Team Chevy Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Gary Peterson , Marco Andretti , Will Power , James Hinchcliffe
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske
Article type Preview
Tags andretti, castroneves, chevrolet, hinchcliffe, hunter-reay, indycar, penske, power, sonoma, v6