Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

What to Watch For: IndyCar at Sonoma (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Sonoma Raceway - Day 2

SONOMA, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Will Power of Australia, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway on September 17, 2016 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Getty Images

SONOMA, Calif. – A champion will be crowned today at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), but the question is whether it will be Simon Pagenaud or Will Power.

Today’s 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway will see a driver from Team Penske drive away with the championship while there could be plenty of other story lines to develop.


Here’s some of the additional items to watch for today:


Pagenaud and Power both appear to be in the right mindset. Pagenaud has gone to another level this year mentally while Power has nothing to lose, although now down 44 points.

Fifth or better, and Pagenaud wins the title regardless. Fifth or worse, and Power can’t win regardless.

We shall see how it goes.


Says Power, who enters the day 44 points back of Pagenaud: “It’s a long race. I think it’s going to be a race of degradation. It’s going to be really interesting the way the tires go.”

With the abrasive surface at Sonoma, tire life is more of an issue than fuel mileage, and if teams want to go off strategy and run a four-stop strategy instead of a three-stop one, they could be more of a rabbit on the softer red tires.


Look for a mix between three stops and four, and look for about Laps 13 to 16 as the first window for anyone opting for a four-stopper and Laps 62 to 68 as the “get-home stop.”


What will the day hold for, among others...?

  • Helio Castroneves, starting second, and Tony Kanaan, starting 13th, both looking to end two-plus year win droughts?
  • Juan Pablo Montoya, starting third, in potentially his final race for Team Penske?
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay, starting fifth, a race after his 200th start and having gone through an emotional roller coaster of a week?
  • Scott Dixon, starting seventh, in the final sendoff for Target at Chip Ganassi Racing’s IndyCar program?
  • Sebastien Bourdais, starting ninth, in his likely but not necessarily last drive for KVSH Racing?
  • Josef Newgarden, starting 10th, in potentially his final race for Ed Carpenter Racing?
  • Charlie Kimball, starting 12th, in his 100th career start?
  • Marco Andretti, starting 14th, needing any result of note 10 years after his first win at Sonoma?
  • James Hinchcliffe, starting 20th, in his last race before retreating solely to the land of dancing?


Follow @TonyDiZinno