Two Chevrolet IndyCar Drivers Aim to Wrap Up Series Title
· Simon Pagenaud seeks first Verizon IndyCar Series championship
ᴏ Leads Team Penske teammate Will Power by 43 points
· Title will be decided in season finale for the 11th consecutive year
ᴏ Double points available in 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway
· Power has won three times at the 2.385-mile race course
ᴏ He set track record in 2015 qualifying in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet
· Chevrolet drivers have won every street/road course race this season
DETROIT (Sept. 14, 2016) – There has been many interesting twists and turns during the 2016 season, and will be more one last time as the Chevrolet IndyCar teams and drivers head to Sonoma Raceway for the season finale. One certainty heading into the final race is that a Chevrolet Racing driver will be crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion for the third consecutive year.
Either Simon Pagenaud, who has topped the standings since the second race of the season, will walk off the Sonoma Raceway stage Sept. 18 with his first open-wheel racing title, or Team Penske teammate Will Power will garner his second Astor Cup in the past three seasons.
The bottom line: If Pagenaud drives the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet to fourth place or higher in the 85-lap race, he’ll lock up the championship to cap Team Penske’s 50th anniversary season. All drivers tested last week on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn natural-terrain course.
“This is our big season finale and I’m very excited to get to battle it out on the track,” said Pagenaud, who has won three races on road courses this season. “Obviously, this weekend is going to be intense regarding the driver championship and I’m very proud with our result in Watkins Glen (seventh place) that we could bring the team championship in this special 50th season to Team Penske. Now, the job for our HPE Chevy team is a little different than usual, as we are only fighting Will Power.
“Our season has been incredible. I am so proud of my team and what we have already accomplished with six poles and four wins. Now we want the championship, and may the best win.”
With due respect to his second-year teammate – Pagenaud, Power is determined to deliver the championship to team owner Roger Penske as the Verizon IndyCar Series title will be decided in the final race for the 11th consecutive year. The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet and 2015 Series champion Scott Dixon, No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, each have three victories on the tricky road course in the hills of California wine country. Power also has earned the pole position in five of the past six years, setting the track record in qualifications in 2015 at 1 minute, 16.2597 seconds (112.589 mph).
Power missed the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, with a medical issue, and was in 12th place in the standings through seven races. His win at Belle Isle in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit – the eighth race of the season – started a six-race streak in which he finished first or second.
“We got it together and being in a position to win the championship is awesome,” he said. “We all set out to win for ourselves and the team, so to be able to deliver a championship for Roger in this special 50th season is special. Sonoma has been good to us over the years, but I’m not sure how much that matters. Every race has its own circumstances and every team has to make the needed adjustments. It will be an exciting weekend, for sure.”
Chevrolet drivers, who have won all 10 road/street course events this season, hold the top six spots in the standings and seven of the top 10 as the Bowtie brand seeks to earn the Manufacturer Championship for the fifth consecutive year.
Dixon, whose win from the pole Sept. 4 at Watkins Glen gave him sole possession of fourth place on the all-time list with 40, seeks to finish in the top three for the 10th consecutive season. He is third in the standings entering the double-points race that he won in 2015 to claim his fourth Verizon IndyCar Series title.
Helio Castroneves, No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet, is fourth, followed by Josef Newgarden, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet, and Tony Kanaan, No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet. Charlie Kimball, No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet, could move up a few spots from ninth with a strong result in his 100th Verizon IndyCar Series race.
“The championship is not available for us, but there is still plenty to race for. Final points position is still up in the air, as is winning the race,” Castroneves said. “Sonoma is very challenging, and I’m looking forward to getting out there and closing out the season on a strong note.”