Simon Pagenaud kisses the Astor Cup as the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion — Photo by: Joe Skibinski
Starting from pole Car 22 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, Simon Pagenaud won the 2016 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma & the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship.
2nd Place Car 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, started from 5th place. 3rd Place Car 2 Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, started from 3rd place.
The confetti flies in Victory Lane over Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, and Juan Pablo Montoya following the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Joe Skibinski
4th Place Car 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, started from 6th place followed by 5th place Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda, started from 8th place. 6th Place Car 21 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, started from 10th place followed by 7th place Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, started from 2nd place. 8th Place Car 27 Marco Andretti, Honda, started from 14th place followed by 9th place Car 83 Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, started from 12th place. Lastly in the Top 10 was Car 11 Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, in 10th place, started from 9th place.
Simon Pagenaud receives the twin checkers to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma becoming the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion — Photo by: Chris Owens
Simon Pagenaud won the race with a Margin of victory: 3.2523 seconds & led most of the laps.
Team owner Roger Penske congratulates Simon Pagenaud in Victory Lane following their win in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Joe Skibinski
The race had 1 Caution: 1 for 3 laps: 1st Caution on lap 38 for Tow-In: Car 12 Will Power, Chevrolet fromTurn 10
Simon Pagenaud and his girlfriend Hailey take a selfie with the Astor Cup after claiming the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship — Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher
The race had 3 Lead changes among 3 drivers: Lap Leaders: Pagenaud 1-15, Castroneves 16, Pagenaud 17-60, Rahal 61-62, Castroneves 63-68, Pagenaud 69-85.
Simon Pagenaud navigates the Turn 9-9A Esses during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher
Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 659, Power 532, Castroneves 504, Newgarden 502, Rahal 484, Dixon 477, Kanaan 461, Montoya 433, Kimball 433, Munoz 432
Pagenaud sweeps race and championship at Sonoma
SONOMA, Calif. (Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016) – Simon Pagenaud put the exclamation point on a sensational breakthrough season, winning today’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to clinch his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship in impressive fashion.
Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet for Team Penske, won the 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway by 3.2523 seconds over Graham Rahal. The dominating performance saw Pagenaud lead all but nine laps and clinch the series crown by 127 points over teammate Will Power.
“I tried to take my future in my destiny by being aggressive and going as fast as I could,” Pagenaud said. “Clearly we had a phenomenal car, I think a very dominant car today, so we could do that.
“I just enjoyed driving today. It was an incredible day and I think it just shows the strength of the 22 team for the whole season.”
Pagenaud started the race from the pole position and surrendered the lead only during pit stop cycles in winning for the fifth time this season and ninth of his Indy car career. Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was running second to Pagenaud until a clutch malfunction stopped his car on track on Lap 36. Power fell eight laps off the pace while repairs were made and finished the race in 20th place, but retained second in the championship for the fourth time in his 12-year Indy car career.
“It was obviously disappointing to have that gearbox problem,” Power said. “I think Simon was going to be tough to beat as far as the championship goes. Maybe we could have beaten him for the (race) win, but I doubt it if everything just played out as it was.
“But honestly it was still a very strong year,” added the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, whose wife, Liz, is expecting their first child in the off-season. “Four race wins. I won a 500-mile race (at Pocono). Not the right one (the Indianapolis 500), but still a 500-miler.”
The championship was the 14th in Indy cars for Team Penske, celebrating its 50th anniversary in racing this year, and the race win was the team’s 187th in Indy car competition – more than any other team. Pagenaud, who set a track record in qualifying on the 2.385-mile permanent road course Saturday, etched his name into the Sonoma books again today with his average race speed of 101.181 mph.
Pagenaud now enjoys the spoils of the championship, including a $1 million prize and official presentation of the Astor Cup that will take place Oct. 4 at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration in Indianapolis. It gives the 32-year-old Frenchman two weeks to let the magnitude of his accomplishment sink in.
“It’s unbelievable,” he admitted. “I think I will realize it more tomorrow. There is so much emotion right now, to be honest, I can’t find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level.”
Team Penske completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the championship when Helio Castroneves finished seventh in the race to edge Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden by two points in the standings. It marked the first time the same team took the top three championship positions since Penske also accomplished the feat in 1994 with Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy.
With his second-place race finish in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda, Rahal advanced to fifth in the championship – the highest-placing Honda driver.
“Good day, good way to end it,” said the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver. “I wanted to get Pagenaud, but when I’d get behind him, I’d get massively loose. I thought at one point it was best I salvage a second place rather than do something stupid.”
As he did in winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, Alexander Rossi ran out of fuel and coasted to the finish line today. He was passed by Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth place, but still secured Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the season just as he did for the Indy 500.
Chevrolet, which won 14 of the 16 races this season, also clinched its fifth consecutive manufacturers’ championship by 104 points over Honda. Chevy has taken the honor every year since manufacturer competition resumed in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012.
Simon Pagenaud sets up for the Turn 6 Carousel during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Richard Dowdy
Simon Pagenaud leads the field to the green flag to start the GoPro Grand prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Chris Jones
Simon Pagenaud is introduced to the crowd during pre-race festivities for the GoPro Grand prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Chris Jones
Andretti Autosport keeps Hunter-Reay, DHL in fold through 2020
Ryan Hunter-Reay is remaining an Andretti Autosport driver through 2020 and will carry familiar yellow-and-red DHL primary sponsorship for the entire ride.
Andretti Autosport announced it has confirmed Hunter-Reay, the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, to drive the team’s No. 28 DHL-sponsored entry for four more seasons. At the conclusion of the agreement, Hunter-Reay will have driven for the Andretti team for 11 consecutive seasons.
“I couldn’t be happier about this announcement and the opportunity to continue with Andretti Autosport as an ambassador for DHL,” said Hunter-Reay, 35, whose 16 career wins include the 2014 Indianapolis 500 flying DHL colors. “These next four years will take us to nearly a decade-long relationship with DHL and a full 11 years with the team.”
DHL, a leading global express services provider, began as a primary sponsor with Andretti in 2011, but the relationship goes back to 2005.
“To see this partnership develop and continue over a 15-year period through 2020 is the result of hard work by both companies in support of DHL marketing, sales and B2B objectives,” said Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport owner and CEO. “It also reflects the strength of the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 properties.”
Hunter-Reay made his 200th Indy car start two weeks ago at Watkins Glen International, in a career that began in 2003. The Floridian is the most successful active American driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series, with more race wins (16) than all the other current Americans combined.
“Since we first teamed up with Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2011, the partnership has been one of the most powerful ways for us to connect our global brand with the public,” said Christine Nashick, chief marketing officer for DHL Express Americas. “We are thrilled to continue this partnership for a decade and with Ryan as our brand ambassador.”
Grand Marshal Ayesha Curry gives the command to start engines during pre-race festivities for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Joe Skibinski
Grand Marshal Ayesha Curry gives the command to fire engines to start the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Joe Skibinski
Grand Marshal Ayesha Curry prepares to waive the green flag to start the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Joe Skibinski
Grand Marshal Ayesha Curry poses with her husband, Steph Curry, and INDYCAR Legend Mario Andretti prior to her two-seater ride around Sonoma Raceway — Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher
Grand Marshal Ayesha Curry waives the green flag to start the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Joe Skibinski
Fannie, a Sonoma Raceway girl, stands on stage prior to the 2016 Championship celebration at Sonoma Raceway — Photo by: Chris Owens
A fan shows her Dancing With The Stars support for James Hinchcliffe at Sonoma Raceway — Photo by: Chris Jones
James Hinchcliffe navigates the Turn 9-9A Esses during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma — Photo by: Chris Owens
News from INDYCAR: “What They’re Saying” from the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): 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.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “It wasn’t a terrible day but it wasn’t a tremendous day. From where we started, I think coming home 12th was a reasonable gain but we were certainly hoping for more coming into the day. The Arrow Electronics car was good. We just kind of wavered back and forth about which strategy to use and went with the three-stopper, which might have been the right call. It’s tough to tell until we sit down and look at it. Either way, we brought the car home and the crew was great in the pits. The car was better in the race than it has been all weekend. Like I said, it was not the finish that we wanted but it was still a great season overall. A big thanks to SPM and Arrow Electronics for a great 2016 and we’ll be back stronger than ever next year.”
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda): “The team did a fantastic job. (Sebastien) Bourdais did what he always does but I’m not going to worry about it. I’m satisfied with the finish and happy to be here in the SMP Racing car driving for this team. Thank you to SPM for the opportunity and also to my fans for cheering for me this season.”
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It was a really up and down race for the Gallagher team today. It started with an overboost problem which left us a sitting duck out there unfortunately. I was trying to hang on and then we pitted to fix the problem and tried to get back in the fight. Then for a stint and a half we were doing the same pace as the leader and was actually catching him so I thought we were in good shape. I thought the last stint was going to be great for us with all the overtakes we had left but the last set of tires didn’t feel right for some reason on the car. We were still quick compared to the others and just did our best at the end.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “Obviously not the day we wanted here at Sonoma in the Target car, but my congratulations to Simon (Pagenaud) and Team Penske on a job well done. I wish we could have finished on a higher note for the season finale here this weekend but it wasn’t meant to be. Thanks for all the support from Target over the last 27 years and all of the vendor partners as well and all they’ve done for this team. We’ll be back fighting hard next season with the No. 9 team and can’t wait to get started again.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet): “Today was just completely out of our control and it’s unfortunate that we had to end the season this way. The No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet was much better today than it had been the rest of the weekend and we felt good about moving up through the field quickly, but that contact on the first lap put us down quite a bit and it was really difficult moving back up through the field. We’ve had a lot of unlucky breaks this season, but I’m proud of the guys and all of NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing for sticking with it and huge congratulations to Simon (Pagenaud) and Team Penske.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “It was a tough day for the Plantronics – KVSH Racing Team. Not the way we wanted to finish the season. It’s a top 10, but boy that was hard work. A lot of fuel saving, just a boring race. It’s too bad it finishes like that, but definitely we didn’t have the tools to fight this weekend. We tried our best and seemed to be able to make an illusion on one lap during qualifying on the red (alternate tire), but everything else seemed to be pretty average. We tried to stay clean and make it to the end. We had quite a few issues during the race with fuel consumption, burning more fuel than we thought we were and things like that, which really threw us a bit behind the eight ball. After that I really didn’t trust the numbers, so I was saving more fuel and we still almost came up short. I am glad I did, but definitely not the kind of race where you feel like you are a factor or try to fight for it. You’re just very passive, which is never a great feeling. We’ll move on.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “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 (laughter).”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “First of all a big thank you to AJ Foyt Racing, ABC Supply, Honda, Alfe and all of the sponsors supporting us. It’s been a tough season. It started out well but then we had some bad luck. Today the strategy didn’t work out as we wished. We were not quite there in terms of speed but we were fighting hard. I’m very proud of the No. 14 pit crew – they did an outstanding job on the pit stops today.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “For Steak ‘n Shake, United Rentals, Hyatt, PennGrade, all our other sponsors, and especially everyone we had here this weekend supporting us, it was a great way to finish the season. That means a lot. They have been supportive through thick and thin and they came out to support us today. It was also cool to have Sergeant Rose with us. He is paralyzed and he stood for the national anthem with us which was pretty awesome. We would have liked to get another win but we were struggling with the rear (of the car). Overall we had our ups and downs (this season) but I’m really proud of this team and proud to be the top Honda once again. We led the charge for them the last couple of years and they did a great job. I wanted to get (Simon) Pagenaud for the win but when I would get close, my car would get massively loose. I thought at one point that it was just best that I salvage a second place than do something stupid. We’re a one car team and obviously today we were fighting with the big boys – with Penske – who is the standard. To run like we did means a lot. It feels great to go into the off-season like this. Once again we proved that with the quality of the people we have in this organization, keeping their heads down and working hard puts us in the position to fight for wins. I’m proud and honored to work with these guys. We will be better next year.”
CONOR DALY (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda): “Sadly we had our worst weekends on the double points weekends. It’s been our luck lately it seems but I think that overall we can be super proud with what we did this year. We led a lot of laps for Honda, we led a lot of different races, we had many top-six finishes, we were on the podium and we almost won a race. I think we can be super pleased with that. Compared to other people’s first years this is a pretty solid one. I’m super lucky and happy to have had this year and to compete and drive for this team because it’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a dream of mine. Hopefully we can do more.”
RC ENERSON (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America/Trench Shoring Honda): “It was looking really good for a while but then we had a mishap on a stop that put us barely a lap down, so that was disappointing. The team gave me a good car, we were consistent, we had the pace. It was a big struggle, a lot of fuel saving to try to get back on the lead lap but we couldn’t quite do it. It’s pretty tough to come away from the last race like this but we’ll pick up the pieces and see what we can do to put something together for next year. Looking back at the three races I did, I have to say Watkins Glen was the best because we had a top 10 but this track (Sonoma) is definitely fun, probably the most challenging out of the three and I’m happy with how were with pace wise. We didn’t have the best qualifying but we had the race pace and I hope everybody sees that.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Samsung/Fuzzy’s Vodka/ECR Chevrolet): “We struggled a little bit on red tires at the beginning, but once we got onto blacks the car was pretty good. We were catching up to the guys in front when we unfortunately had an issue with the driveshaft failing coming out of Turn 11. The guys did an awesome job not only this weekend but also all season. I can’t thank Ed Carpenter Racing, Samsung, Fuzzy’s Vodka and Rising Star Racing enough for the opportunity this year and now I’m looking forward to the offseason.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet): “We needed one more car in front of us (to finish 3rd in the championship), but we were a little too far back – 6th just didn’t get it done. I did everything I could to keep Helio (Castroneves) behind me to see if it would shake out our way but it just didn’t. There’s nothing for us to hang our heads about, we had a phenomenal year in our own right. We have a great team, great sponsors, great crew, so we’re not going to go into the offseason hanging our heads about anything.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, 2016 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma winner): “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.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 hhgregg Honda): “A little disappointed with the result. I know a car took the front off our wing. He just broke too late and broke off the wing. We had to come in to change it and lost two seconds there. We finish the season 10th in the championship. I have to thank everyone, all the sponsors from this year; UFD, Magneti Marelli, hhgregg. I have to be proud after this year. Thank you to the whole team, it has been an amazing year and everything so were going to work hard and see what happens for 2017.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “It was a tough year for the Snapple team, I’m going to do whatever it takes to improve for next year – put in the time and whatever I need to. This ties for the worst year of my career, when it needed to be my best. We’re definitely up against it for next year. Thanks to Snapple, UFD and Mutual of Omaha for hanging in there with me this season. It’s a bit of a blessing after a nightmare year for hhgregg to come on (as co-primary sponsor) for two years (starting in 2017). I can now shift my focus on trying to fast and the season opener in St. Pete.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Fourth was a decent finish, but we still have work to do before 2017. We’ve had a lot of missed opportunities this year, and we need to work on minimizing those weekends when we’re in the back of the field. It’s nice to be in the top five, but if we’re not stepping on top of the podium, we’re not doing our job. We were able to announce today that DHL and I will be back with Andretti Autosport until 2020, and that means the absolute world to me. We’ve had such a great past together and they’ve had great confidence in me and the team. And this is my home. When it’s all said and done, I’ll have been here for 11 years and potentially even more.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “Long, long afternoon. We really struggled with the car which was really, really loose. Ever since we got to this track, especially with the 41 car, the trend has been that I could do one or two quick laps and then the tire degradation was big. We haven’t had a car that was good on old tires and that’s what we saw in the race. I couldn’t make the tires last and I was fighting a loose car the whole race. It’s been a very, very tough season. The guys worked hard. Thanks to ABC Supply for their support the past two years and to everybody on the team. All the best for everybody going forward.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet): “Yesterday we qualified 12th, but we knew we had a fast race car for today so we really just wanted to stay in clean air. Man, some of our lap times when we were in clean air were really quick. We thought we might be able to make something work with those times. I think we hamstrung ourselves by starting on scuffed reds – they didn’t hang on nearly as long as we thought they might. I think we had a really fast car and the guys did an awesome job in the pits. I can’t thank the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew enough for the job they’ve done all year – they’ve really stepped up to challenge. Every year we keep moving up in the points, so we just need to figure out what we need to do in the offseason to make sure we come back even stronger next year.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda): “Today was good until the last corner. It’s heartbreaking to [run out of fuel] at the end. But it’s weird how this sport works; we won the biggest race of the year the same way. It’s just the way it goes sometime. Huge credit to the team for what we accomplished from St. Pete – where we struggled to stay on the lead lap and with a lot of other things – to where we are now and being at the front, legitimately. It was a pleasure to work with these guys and it’s easier to look back at things that could have been different, but that’s racing and I hope to show what I’m capable of in the future.”
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma race results
SONOMA, Calif. – Results Sunday of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, car, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Car 22 Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (5) Car 15 Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
3. (3) Car 2 Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 85, Running
4. (6) Car 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
5. (8) Car 98 Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Car 21 Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (2) Car 3 Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (14) Car 27 Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
9. (12) Car 83 Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 85, Running
10. (9) Car 11 Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 85, Running
11. (11) Car 7 Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 85, Running
12. (20) Car 11 James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
13. (13) Car 10 Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
14. (15) Car 14 Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
15. (16) Car 26 Carlos Munoz, Honda, 85, Running
16. (18) Car 8 Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 85, Running
17. (7) Car 9 Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (17) Car 41 Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 84, Running
19. (22) Car 19 RC Enerson, Honda, 84, Running
20. (4) Car 12 Will Power, Chevrolet, 77, Running
21. (21) Car 18 Conor Daly, Honda, 36, Mechanical
22. (19) Car 20 Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 35, Mechanical
Winner’s average speed: 101.181 mph
Time of Race: 2:00:12.9424
Margin of victory: 3.2523 seconds
Time of Race: 02:00:12.9424 Avg Speed: 101.181 mph Margin of Victory: 3.2523 seconds Lead Changes: 5 Caution Laps: 3
Fastest Lap: 108.324 mph (79.2623 seconds) on Lap 70 by 10 – Tony Kanaan
Fastest Leader Lap: 107.705 mph (79.7181 seconds) on Lap 3 by 22 – Simon Pagenaud
Verizon P1 Award: Simon Pagenaud (01:16.2565, 112.594 mph)
Legend: R = Sunoco Rookie of the Year Candidate; All Cars use fourth-generation Verizon IndyCar Series Chassis (IR-12) with Chevrolet or Honda aerodynamic bodywork and Firestone Tires
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of Indycar