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Team Penske Sonoma Race Preview

August 21, 2014




THE RACE

Verizon IndyCar Series
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
Sonoma, Calif.
August 24, 2014

THE CARS

No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Driven By Juan Pablo Montoya
    
No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Driven By Helio Castroneves    

No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Driven By Will Power


THE NEWS AND NOTES
    
Juan Pablo Montoya

No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Point Standing: 5th     

· GAINING GROUND:  With his second-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile last weekend, Juan Pablo Montoya made up ground on everyone inside the Verizon IndyCar Series top five, with the exception of Team Penske teammate and race winner, Will Power. Montoya is now just six points out of the fourth position and 22 points out of third place in the standings.

· LEFT AND RIGHT IS ALRIGHT: Of Montoya’s 12 career Verizon IndyCar Series victories, five of them have come on road and temporary street courses. His last series victory while turning right and left came at Concord Pacific Place in Vancouver, B.C. in 1999 when, in typical Montoya fashion, he qualified on the pole position before leading 73 of 74 laps en route to the victory.

· SONOMA IS SPECIAL: While Montoya has never won a Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway, he did score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at the road course in 2007.

· VERIZON MULTICULTURAL INITIATIVE: Montoya will appear at Napa Junction Elementary Magnet School on Thursday, August 21 from 10 am-12 pm PT. While there, the Verizon driver will speak to students about the importance of getting a good education and how STEM initiatives are applied in racing.

    
THE Q & A

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA

YOU HAVE ONE NASCAR WIN AT SONOMA. CAN YOU GET YOUR FIRST INDYCAR WIN THERE THIS WEEKEND?

"I think we have a really good shot to win this weekend at Sonoma. We tested there a few weeks ago and the Verizon Chevy was really quick. You know, it’s funny to go to a track where I have won in NASCAR, but haven’t won a Verizon IndyCar Series race yet. I have two great teammates who are always quick at Sonoma, so I’m confident that Team Penske will be in position to win on Sunday.”

WITH TWO RACES REMAINING, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR?

“We definitely have a shot. I mean, there are over 100 points on the table at the last race at Auto Club Speedway. I know I’m a long shot at this point, being 114 points behind Will (Power, points leader), but we have two good racetracks coming up for Team Penske and we are going to give it our best effort. Again, I feel very fortunate to be in the championship battle with the way the year started out for us, my first year back in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Whatever happens from this point forward this season, I think we have built a great foundation for the coming years with this No. 2 Verizon Chevy team.”

 
    

THE NEWS AND NOTES

Helio Castroneves
No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Point Standing: 2nd     

· CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’:  Helio Castroneves has won on three California road courses, including Sonoma Raceway in 2008 when he led a total of 51 of the 80 laps contested. The Verizon IndyCar Series title contender also has wins at Laguna Seca (2000) and Long Beach (2001).

· CHASING A TITLE: With two races remaining in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Castroneves ranks second in the series standings, just 39 points behind Team Penske teammate Will Power. Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time championship runner up, is chasing his first series title.

· LOOKING AT 30: A win in this weekend’s race at Sonoma would give Castroneves his 30th career Verizon IndyCar Series victory. It would break a tie he currently holds with his Team Penske mentor, Rick Mears, for 11th place on the all-time series win list. Castroneves has won a race in 14 of the last 15 seasons.

· HITACHI VIDEO CHAT: On Friday, August 22, Castroneves will participate in a live video chat with Hitachi from Sonoma Raceway, beginning at 5 pm ET (2 pm PT). Fans can ask questions in advance using #HelioChat on Twitter, then log on to www.hitachi.us/motorsports/ and the Verizon INDYCAR 14 app to interact with one of the most engaging personalities in racing.

· PENSKE PRIDE AT SONOMA: Team Penske looks to add to its dominance at Sonoma Raceway this weekend. The team has won five of the last six races at the track and has also captured the Verizon P1 Pole Award at Sonoma on four occasions. Team Penske earned a 1-2-3 podium sweep at the Wine Country circuit in 2011 when Power won followed by Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe.

    
THE Q & A

HELIO CASTRONEVES

WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND’S RACE AT SONOMA RACEWAY?

"You just have to put last weekend out of your mind, knowing that you are probably going to lose even more points at Sonoma if you hang on too long to what happened in Milwaukee. You know, Will (Power) did exactly what he needed to do last weekend. Now we need to come out and have that same kind of maximum-points weekend either this weekend or next weekend at Auto Club Speedway. I tell you, man, I’m really having a ball competing with my teammates like this. It’s very close to being Team Penske in the top three spots in the standings. To be a part of something like that would be very special but, of course, I want to be at the top.”

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST KEY TO RUNNING WELL AT SONOMA?

"The big thing with racing at Sonoma is the tire degradation throughout the course of a run. When the tires fall off it makes it much harder to find forward drive coming out of the corners. Sonoma is a very technical racetrack and how you exit the corners is critical for setting you up for the next corner, or even the next several corners. I was very happy with the Hitachi Chevrolet in the test at Sonoma a couple of weeks ago. I thought we were right there among the best cars. Hopefully we can find a little more speed and find ourselves in Victory Lane.”

 

THE NEWS AND NOTES

Will Power
No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Points Standing: 1st    

· THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET: It’s hard to imagine Will Power having a better start to the final three-race stretch that will decide the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. In the first race of the run to the title last weekend at the Milwaukee Mile, Power won the Verizon P1 Pole Award and led 229 of 250 laps to score the victory and maximum points for the weekend. He now owns a 39-point lead in the series standings over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.

· SONOMA SUPERMAN: No driver has been more dominant at Sonoma Raceway over the last four years than Power. In his last four starts at the road course, the current Verizon IndyCar Series point leader has scored three wins and a second-place finish, good for an average result of 1.25.

· GOOD TIMES AND NOT SO GOOD TIMES: Though Sonoma has provided many great memories for Power, it’s also the place where he experienced the worst accident of his career. He was involved a freak practice crash during the 2009 race weekend when he made hard contact with the car of Nelson Philippe that had spun and was sitting in the middle of the track over the top of a blind hill. Power suffered several broken vertebrae and other injuries in the accident that abruptly ended his first season with Team Penske.

· MOVING ON UP: At just 33 years of age, Power has already won 24 career Verizon IndyCar Series races. That puts him in 18th place on the all-time wins list. Power is just six wins away from entering the top 10 in career IndyCar victories.  

· SACRAMENTO MEDIA ADVANCE: On Thursday afternoon, Power will visit the capital city of California – Sacramento – for a media advance at the Zocolo restaurant to promote the Sonoma race weekend.


THE Q & A

WILL POWER

AFTER LAST WEEK’S WIN AT MILWAUKEE, ARE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE KNOWING YOU ARE GOING TO TWO TRACKS NOW WHERE YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS?

"The win at Milwaukee last weekend was very gratifying, almost as much as my win at Auto Club Speedway last year. I really had a lot of confidence coming into the year about Milwaukee, so it’s nice that we were able to realize our potential there. Certainly we are in a good position going into the last two weeks of the season. We have a lot of confidence in our ability as a team at Sonoma and Auto Club Speedway, but there is still over 150 points on the table with Fontana being a double-points race. Our path is easier now, but it’s by no means easy.”

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO RUNNING SO WELL AT SONOMA?

“Sonoma is just a very technical racetrack. It’s a place where you have to really hit your marks and be precise. For whatever reason that fits my driving style perfectly. Plus I’ve been fortunate to drive really good Verizon Chevrolets while at Team Penske. That always helps. After the test at Sonoma a couple of weeks ago, it seems like we’ll have another fast one this weekend. We’re going for wins, man. That’s what got us here and that’s what will keep us in the points lead."