SONOMA, CA - AUGUST 26: Ryan Briscoe, driver of the #2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma on August 26, 2012 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Ryan Briscoe won Sunday's GoPro Indy Grand Prix at Sonoma Speedway but it might be remembered as the day Will Power unofficially clinched a stronghold on the 2012 Series Championship.
Power led the most laps, 57, but was cycled out of the lead after the first caution came out on lap 65. Power had just left pit road but was slotted behind teammate Briscoe on the restart. It was a reversal of the first two-thirds of the race, with Power unable to chase down Briscoe, who won his first race of 2012 and first since Texas in 2010.
Power didn't have a lot of reasons to press the issue, or his faulty push-to-pass, as championship rivals Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon were both involved in a lap 1 accident, with Ryan Hunter-Reay suffering a similar fate on lap 75. With second-through-fourth in the championship all suffering problems, Power accepted a runner-up and extended his championship lead to 36 points over Hunter-Reay, who finished 18th.
Sunday was a total success for Team Penske between Briscoe's victory, Power's championship advantage, and the team's one-two finish. Even Castroneves rebounded from his lap 1 accident to finish sixth, considerable improvement given the lack of cautions early in the race.
The caution didn't fly until lap 65, the first time in nearly three races. But once they fell, they negated pretty impressive efforts by Sebastian Bourdais, Josef Newgarden and Alex Tagliani.
Dario Franchitti, Rubens Barrichello, Graham Rahal, Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, JR Hildebrand, Tagliani, and Tony Kanaan rounded-out the top-10.
More on Team Penske's day, the championship battle, and a complete finishing order can be found after the jump.
But Sunday served as a reminder that Briscoe can still get it done on a weekly basis in an open-wheel race car. Beyond that, Briscoe is a gentleman in the paddock and an excellent spokesman for all of Penske's marketing projects. Losing him would be a major blow to a sport looking to retain momentum entering the next few seasons.
Here's hoping they work something out.
His teammate, Power, needed a day like Sunday to build a championship cushion leading into the final two races of the season. Everyone knows that Power will be a threat at Baltimore but team No. 12 has to be concerned about the 500-mile World Championship at Auto Club Speedway. Recent debacles at Kentucky have thrown into doubt Power's luck and ability to win on the high banks.
He might need the buffer.
Did Sonoma all but secure the championship for Will Power or is the title hunt still undecided? Answer this question and discuss your favorite topics from Sunday's race in the comments section below.
Onto the Streets of Baltimore...
|2012 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
|10||Tony Kanaan||1 LAPS||1 LAPS||1:21.3885||5||1:20.6288||13||0||16|
|11||Justin Wilson||1 LAPS||1.2003||1:21.1970||41||1:20.3718||13||19||20|
|12||James Jakes||1 LAPS||1.0788||1:21.1324||22||1:20.6461||13||30||24|
|13||Scott Dixon||1 LAPS||0.5456||1:21.2062||17||1:19.7634||9||39||5|
|14||Mike Conway||1 LAPS||4.2997||1:20.8761||83||1:20.6044||13||4||14|
|15||Sebastian Saavedra||1 LAPS||2.3024||1:22.1947||48||1:20.3785||13||29||23|
|16||EJ Viso||1 LAPS||2.7274||1:22.1833||80||1:20.5125||13||2||17|
|17||Simona De Silvestro||1 LAPS||2.2855||1:22.7458||83||1:21.8605||13||41||27|
|18||Ryan Hunter-Reay||1 LAPS||0.6289||1:19.6112||82||1:19.1848||6||27||7|
|19||Oriol Servia||1 LAPS||3.5732||1:20.8357||81||1:20.3764||2||27||18|
|20||Ed Carpenter||1 LAPS||3.1645||1:24.1187||38||1:21.9283||13||90||25|
|21||Charlie Kimball||3 LAPS||2 LAPS||1:21.3828||80||1:20.7865||8||21||21|
|22||Sebastien Bourdais||22 LAPS||18 LAPS||1:45.1217||6||1:20.2166||0||0||3||Contact|
|23||Josef Newgarden||23 LAPS||1 LAPS||1:27.5085||22||1:20.8039||1||0||22||Contact|
|24||Katherine Legge||37 LAPS||14 LAPS||5:41.1815||27||1:21.1415||0||72||19||Mechanical|
|25||Marco Andretti||39 LAPS||2 LAPS||4:15.5268||24||1:20.5811||0||0||12||Mechanical|
|26||James Hinchcliffe||50 LAPS||11 LAPS||11:31.5360||5||1:21.2440||0||63||10||Mechanical|
|27||Takuma Sato||83 LAPS||33 LAPS||1:25.1128||2||1:25.1128||2||0||26||Off Course|