The IZOD IndyCar Series will have a new look and feel when it returns to the Sonoma Raceway this weekend for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Not only did the IndyCar Series introduce a new chassis and turbo charged engines in 2012, but the layout at Sonoma Raceway has been altered in turns 7, 9 and 11 to increase overtaking opportunities. Racing legend Mario Andretti and Team Penske drivers Ryan Briscoe and Will Power were among those involved in the track modifications.
“This was something we worked on in the offseason and I think it is really going to make for some exciting racing,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske who won from the pole at Sonoma in both 2010 and 2011. “I’ve enjoyed the racing at Sonoma in the past and expect to see even better racing this year.”
With the changes, the twisting track will now have 12 turns and measure 2.31 miles (it was 2.303 miles) and the race distance will increase from 75 to 85 laps.
“As drivers, we should all be excited with the track reconfiguration as it will help open up more areas for passing,” said Briscoe, driver of the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet. “With the new Turn 7, it is going to be a slower corner with heavy braking and later turning, which will become an added passing opportunity. Turn 11 will also create a new challenge with a longer chute leading to carrying more speed into the Start/Finish line. I certainly welcome the new changes because they add to the beauty of driving the circuit.”
With only three races remaining on the 2012 schedule only 28 points separate the top four in the standings. Power holds a slim 379 to 374 lead over Andretti Motorsports driver Ryan Hunter Reay while Power’s Penske teammate Helio Castroneves remains solidly in the championship hunt with 353 points as does Scott Dixon of Target/Ganassi Racing with 351 points.
"It's insanely competitive," said Power. "You haven't seen anyone consistently win poles or win races. No one dominates this series. It just proves how tough it is and tight it is. You have to work on all the finer points of your driving just to be competitive.”
Also racing this weekend will be the Formula Car Challenge and the SCCA World Challenge Series. In addition to plenty of on-track action, fans will enjoy autograph sessions and a race-day air show. Call 800-870-7223 (RACE) or visit racesonoma.com/indycar for more details.
Stockton 99 Speedway
It seems hard to believe but the 2012 racing season is already into the home stretch.
This Saturday’s August 25th NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at the 99 Speedway, featuring the North State Challenge Series Late Models, Grand American Modifieds and Star Racing Supply Modifieds, Super Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Basically-4-Cylinders, is the first of just three regular season events remaining on the schedule.
Tracy’s Scott Winters, the 2009 Modified champion, has notched eight wins in 15 starts this season to take a commanding 684 to 594 lead in the battle for the 2012 track championship over Nic Romeo.
Also on Saturday night the Madera Speedway will be featuring a six division program led by the Lunkerdaddy Late Models with double points on the line in all classes and on Sunday the Merced Speedway will be hosting its final points race of the season with the Sport Modifieds, Dirt Modifieds, Super Street, Hobby Stocks, Valley Sportsmen and 4-Bangers.
K&N Pro Series
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West teams are heading north this weekend for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Salute to the Troops “125” on Sunday at Portland International Raceway.
Escalon’s Eric Holmes came home with a second place finish in his last two runs at Portland International Raceway and is looking forward to returning to the 1.967-mile road course just south of the Columbia River.
“I'm extremely excited to be going back to PIR. Our NAPA Toyota Camry road course car has been very fast in the past two road course races here,” said Holmes. “Although we have had a few setbacks this year, we will continue to give it our all and continue to win some races.”
Holmes, a three-time West Series champion, currently sits fifth in the West Series standings behind leaders Greg Pursley of Newall and Dylan Kwasniewski of Las Vegas.
To contact Dale Bosowski, email email@example.com.