Will Power came into the GoPro IZOD Indy Car Grand Prix of Sonoma with a chance to make it three in a row. He had the fastest car during nearly every test and practice session over the weekend. He then qualified on the pole. Power led the first 17 laps until the first cycle of pit stops, at which time his Penske teammate (Ryan Briscoe) took the lead. He then led laps 21-40 before the second set of pit stops, where Briscoe would take over. When Power regained the lead on lap 44, it looked like a third consecutive win at Sonoma was in the bag. By lap No. 60, Power had nearly an eight-second lead on second place, Briscoe. On lap No. 64, Power entered the pits for his final scheduled pit stop, handing the lead to Briscoe. In addition, a full-course caution came out for a collision between rookie Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais between turns eight and nine. While in the pits, Power’s team had problems with right rear tire, causing delays in his pit stop. Briscoe had now entered the pits for his final pit stop; his under the caution. Due to the delays in Power’s pit stop, Briscoe was able to beat him to the merge line exciting the pits, thus retaining the lead. The caution flag lasted nine laps. When green flag racing resumed on lap 74, the two teammates battled for position, but Briscoe was able to hold off Power, as they headed into the first turn on the restart. The second and final caution occurred on lap 75, when Ryan Hunter-Reay spun as he exited turn seven. Green flag racing resumed on lap 77, Briscoe was able to beat Power into turn one and extend the lead to as much as 1.6368 seconds. The two Penske teammates battled around the track bringing the large crowd to their feet. As the white flag fell, signaling the final lap, Power looked to be ready to make his move. He had cut his teammate’s lead of nearly 1.5 seconds to a mere 0.8847 seconds. Unfortunately for Power, he just couldn’t close the deal and get around teammate Briscoe. When the checkered flag waved, it was Briscoe in the Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet by just 0.4408 seconds over Power in his Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Dario Franchitti was third in the Target Chip Ganssi Racing Honda; Rubens Barrichello in the BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet was fourth and Graham Rahal in the Service Central Honda in fifth.
With the event win, Chevrolet won the season engine manufacture award. Power also clinched the “Mario Andretti Road Course King” award. With his second place finish and because of the points he gained by leading the most laps, Power leaves the event with the season point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves.
With two races remaining on the season schedule, the IRL moves on to Baltimore, Maryland for the Grand Prix of Baltimore, then to Fontana, California for the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana for the MAV TV American Real 500.
Oakdale Leader correspondents Mike and Jeff Burghardt contributed this report.