Chevrolet Aims to Close the Deal on Multiple Titles
· Team Chevy enters season finale with four drivers in hunt
ᴏ Sonoma Raceway road course hosts 85-lap decisive race
· Josef Newgarden is front-runner entering double-points race
ᴏ First-year Team Penske driver has field-high four victories
· Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power also contenders
ᴏ Chevy drivers have combined for nine wins, 10 pole starts
· Chevrolet has won the past five races at Sonoma Raceway
· Chevrolet poised to capture sixth consecutive manufacturer championship
DETROIT (Sept. 13, 2017) – Through 16 Verizon IndyCar Series contests encompassing 2,246 laps and 4,100 miles, four Team Penske Chevrolet drivers have skillfully faced off against each other and a host of determined competitors to arrive at a defining moment in their careers.
This weekend, for the 12th consecutive year, the Verizon IndyCar Series driver/entrant champions will be determined in the season finale.
Five drivers, including the four Team Penske Chevy contestants, enter the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma mathematically eligible to claim the title based on double base points assigned to the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn natural-terrain road course.
Entering the final contest of the season, Chevrolet is poised to win its sixth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer Championship.
Since Chevrolet’s 2012 returned to INDYCAR competition, the Bowtie Brand has won the coveted Manufacturer Title every year.
NBCSN will telecast the race live at 6:30 p.m. ET Sept. 17.
Josef Newgarden, in his first season driving for Team Penske, is in prime position to record his first open-wheel racing major title. Teammates Helio Castroneves, reigning series champion and 2016 Sonoma race winner Simon Pagenaud, and 2014 series title-holder Will Power are also in contention. Collectively, they have amassed 10 pole starts and nine wins for Team Chevy in the 16 races, including victories in five of the past six.
Chevrolet drivers have won every race at Sonoma Raceway since the Bowtie brand’s return to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012. A victory by one of the eight Chevrolet entries in the finale will secure double-digit wins for the sixth year in a row.
Newgarden, the points front-runner who has a field-high four victories, is three points clear of Scott Dixon in the standings. Basically, if the 26-year-old Tennessee native finishes ahead of the four-time champion or is tied in points, he’ll hoist the Astor Cup in Victory Circle.
Newgarden, driving the hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, and his three teammates recorded multiple laps at Sonoma Raceway last week to prepare for the decisive race and are scheduled to test again Sept. 14.
“You can only control so much within the championship,” said Newgarden, who has posted a best finish of sixth in Sonoma. “The only thing we can really do is try to focus on winning the race and do the best job we can.
“I think the good thing about it is we can control our own destiny, and if we win the race, then that basically secures the championship. It’s in our hands to make it happen, other than us having to go there and rely on other people finishing in a certain position. So that’s the most comforting thing to me. We’ll focus on going out, being fast, solving problems, and trying to win another IndyCar race.”
Castroneves is 22 points off the pace as he seeks the first title in his 20th season of Indy car competition. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, who will drive the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, registered a victory from the pole on the technically challenging Sonoma road course in 2008.
“We’ve just got to keep bringing what we’ve been doing the whole season,” said Castroneves, who dominated the race in early July at Iowa Speedway for his 30th career win. “We’re not here at this position by luck. We’re here because we perform as a team, as a group. Everybody in a consistent way, in a competitive way most of the time, and that’s what we’re going to have to continue doing.”
Pagenaud is the only driver to complete all 2,246 laps and the lone competitor with double-digit (12) top-five finishes. The third-year Team Penske driver of the No. 1 DXC Technology Chevrolet set the track lap record on the way to a pole start in the 2016 finale and led 76 of the 85 laps to wrap up his fifth victory of the season and his first Verizon IndyCar Series title.
He enters the race fourth in the standings – 34 points behind Newgarden.
“I don’t see the points deficit being such an issue. I think the most important thing is to go into Sonoma very confident and just simply try to score maximum points,” Pagenaud said. “The rest you can’t control.
“Quite frankly, we have nothing to lose, which is a very pleasant position to be in. All we’ve got to do is be aggressive and go to the front and try to win the race. It’s a very simple way to look at it with not much pressure. The goal is to repeat what we did last year there and dominate the weekend, which the Penske cars are usually very strong there, so I’ve got a really strong hope.”
Though Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, has a difficult road to hoe to unearth his second career Verizon IndyCar Series championship, he’ll be among the favorites to win the race. He trails Newgarden by 68 points.
Power is a three-time winner and five-time pole sitter at Sonoma Raceway. This season, he’s registered three wins and a field-high six poles, led the most laps, and has led laps in 10 races.
Team Penske president Tim Cindric, the race strategist on Newgarden’s No. 2 Chevrolet, is confident that proper execution by drivers, pit crews, engineers, and the strategists will lead the way to Victory Circle.
“Certainly, going into the last race, we have multiple opportunities. We’ve been there before. Sometimes we’ve capitalized, sometimes we haven’t. But it certainly shows kind of the depth of our organization and really how hard our guys compete with each other and with everyone else.
“We’re fortunate to be in that position. But, with double points, a lot of different things can happen there at Sonoma. The mentality is, let’s be sure that Team Penske does its best to execute.”
On the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway road course in Sonoma, California, Team Chevy will be well represented by:
ED CARPENTER RACING:
Spencer Pigot, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet
JR Hildebrand, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet
A.J. FOYT ENTERPRISES:
Conor Daly, No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet
Carlos Munoz, No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, No. 1 DXC Technology Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, No. 2 hum by Verizon Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet
Will Power, No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet