Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report - Sonoma

September 18, 2016

Track:  Sonoma Raceway   
Race:   GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma 
Date:    September 18, 2016

No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya

Start:  3rd
Finish: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 85/85
Laps Led: 0
Final Points Position: 8th (-226)

Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya battled back to finish in third place in Sunday's Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway, gaining six positions in the final championship standings. Montoya's podium finish - his third of the season and 26th of his IndyCar career - moved him to eighth in the final drivers' standings. Montoya started Sunday's race in third place and slipped to fourth on the first lap. By lap 32, Montoya had worked back to third place, working on a three-stop strategy when most of the field was on a four-stop strategy. With teammate Simon Pagenaud headed to victory, Montoya was able to hang on to third-place to help move him to eighth in the final standings.     

Quote: "It was a good day today for the hum by Verizon Chevrolet.  We were able to work the right strategy and do a three-stop race when the rest of the guys in the field did a four stop race.  The car had a little oversteer early in the event but was running strong later, we just didn't have the track position and didn’t get any cautions to get caught back up.  I'm happy with a third to end the season. Congrats to my teammate Simon Pagenaud on the win and on the championship. He was fast all day and all year.  There is no one that deserves it more this year than him."

No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves

Start:  2nd
Finish: 7th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 85/85
Laps Led: 7
Points Position: 3rd (-155)

Recap: Helio Castroneves secured Team Penske's second ever 1-2-3 sweep in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship by finishing seventh in the season finale on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. After starting second, Castroneves maintained that position until lap 16, when he pitted under green and teammate Will Power passed him on the exit of the pits for second place. He slipped back to 11th after pitting again on lap 29, working on a four-stop strategy. He battled hard with Josef Newgarden late in the race, eventually coming home in the seventh position.  Castroneves didn't win a race in 2016 but stayed in contention for the championship with consistent finishes, including four podium finishes and two pole positions. His third-place finish in the point standings was the second time Team Penske has accomplished a 1-2-3 finish in the point standings, the first being in 1994.

Quote: "Congratulations, Simon. Well deserved, no question. Throughout the entire season, he was not only an amazing driver but a champion. Really honored to be working with a guy like that. The whole team was a dream to work with and today was the proof of that."

No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start:  4th
Finish: 20th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 77/85
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 2nd (-127)

Recap: A mechanical issue on lap 36 cost Will Power a chance to pursue Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, but the veteran driver still managed to finish second in the season-long championship with a 20th-place finish Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Power came into the weekend 43 points behind Pagenaud in the standings. When the race began on Sunday, Power passed teammate Juan Pablo Montoya for third place and eventually made it to second during a round of green-flag pit stops, chasing down leader Pagenaud.  However, on lap 35, Power's car suddenly slowed and eventually stalled, requiring a tow back to the pits. The culprit was a malfunctioning clutch control unit and repairs cost Power eight laps in the pits, ending his bid for his second INDYCAR Series Championship. By finishing 20th, Power ended up second in the point standings, 127 points behind Pagenaud despite missing a race earlier in the year.

Quote: "It was obviously disappointing to have that gearbox problem. I think Simon (Pagenaud) was going to be tough to beat as far as the championship goes. Maybe we could have beaten him for the win, but I doubt it if everything just played out as it was. That was that. But honestly it was still a very strong year. Four race wins, I won a 500-mile race. Not the right one, but still a 500-miler. It's a 1-2-3 for the team, which is really good, considering how it finished last year. I think the team is really strong now. Another second place."

No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start:  1st
Finish: 1st
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 85/85
Laps Led: 76
Points Position: 1st

Recap: Simon Pagenaud claimed his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship Sunday by winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, the finale of the 2016 season. The victory was Pagenaud’s fifth of the season and completed a sweep of the top three positions by Team Penske in the final standings. Pagenaud came into the race with a 43-point lead over Power, then won the pole position on Saturday -- his eighth pole of the 16-race season. Pagenaud dominated Sunday’s season finale, leading 76 of the 85 laps, maintaining the lead from the pole position and extending all day long.  Working on a three-stop strategy compared to most of the field's four-stop strategy, Pagenaud battled with Graham Rahal late, eventually pulling away and winning by over three seconds. Pagenaud, a 32-year-old veteran from Pottiers, France, earned five wins, seven poles and eight podium finishes in 2016, his second year with Team Penske.

Quote: "It's unbelievable. I think I will realize it more tomorrow. What a race. There is so much emotion right now, to be honest, I don't know if you can see it. I can't find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level. When you can perform 100 percent under pressure like this is amazing. It's such a good thing. It's me winning but it's the whole team, the No. 22 team and Team Penske."