Will Power took first place in the GoPro Sonoma Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway his third race win in four years. The win at Sonoma marked his first victory of the IndyCar season. Power is the only multiple IndyCar winner in Sonoma, where he’s been dominant since he broke his back in a crash in 2009.
Scott Dixon led the race until he received a drive-through penalty with 15 laps to go for clipping a tire in the left hand of Will Power’s mechanic Travis Law. The decisive incident occurred when Dixon attempted to leave pit row while Power was parked right in front of him. Power’s mechanic held the tire in his left arm while Dixon attempted to get around him, and the resulting contact sent two crew members sprawling while the tire bounced away. Thankfully all three crew members said they were fine to continue after a bit of ice.
However Dixon thought Power’s crew got in his way on purpose which left him angry and confused by IndyCar’s ruling against him.
“That’s probably the most blatant thing I’ve seen in a long time,” Dixon said. “You watch most pit guys, they try to get out of the way of other people, so that was a bit of a (classless) move, to be honest. … If that’s the way they want to try and win, that’s pretty bad.”
Will Power scoffed at the idea of gamesmanship occurred in his first victory of the year.
“It reminds me of so many things that’s happened to us in the last three years, so we’ll take it,” Power said. “I would be very surprised (if it was intentional). I haven’t seen it. It’s not even worth commenting on. … I really thought we’d win before (now), but we just kept at it and worked hard and were fast all weekend.”
“The guy turned his back and carried the tire into Dixon’s side,” Chip Ganassi Racing team manager Mike Hull said. “He walked into us, so if that sets the precedent, in the next race, that means somebody can walk into us with a tire in their hand.”
“I don’t like to see the call that had to take place, but everybody saw it,” Roger Penske said. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way racing is.”
Race director Beaux Barfield stood behind the call against Dixon, saying the lines painted in the pit box don’t correspond to the actual spaces afforded to the teams. IndyCar rules mandate penalties for drivers who make contact with pit crew members.
“If we have somebody that uses less-than-great judgment when they leave their pit box, and we have an incident, then certainly we’ve got to make a statement by penalizing (that driver),” Barfield said. “The lines are a little bit confusing, because we don’t go in and change the lines everywhere we go.
“There’s a different angle, if you looked at, you can see the difference between the Target and the Verizon signs on the wall. With the No. 9 car (Dixon) leaving the pit lane, he clearly crosses right into the pit box into the No. 12 car (Power) space, and that’s where the violation occurred.”
Justin Wilson was second, and pole winner Dario Franchitti was third — although Franchitti was furious at race control, saying Power drove him off the track with no penalty. Castroneves finished seventh behind Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Dixon’s finished 15th and lost ground on overall IndyCar leader Helio Castroneves his brush with Power’s crew highlighted an eventful race in Sonoma. With strong wind and dust all over the course, the race featured a record seven cautions for various collisions and stalls. Sebastian Saavedra crashed heavily into a barrier with four laps to go. Andretti also drew the ire of Roger Penske for making contact with Penske driver Power late in the race. Penske charged over to Andretti’s car immediately after the race for an argument featuring wild gesticulations by both men until the normally taciturn Penske abruptly turned and walked away.
Castroneves’ lead over Dixon grew from 31 to 39 points (479-440) with four races left in the IndyCar season. Despite a huge missed opportunity, Dixon hasn’t given up on his championship hopes.
“It’s still achievable,” he said. “It’s 39 points, but today could have been a big chunk of that. You can’t change it now. We’ll just have to race hard and try to beat them fair and square.”
Next up is the street race in Baltimore next weekend. Pit assignments are determined by qualifying results from the
previous race. So where does that put Dixon and Power in Baltimore?
“Actually, next week he’s behind us,” Dixon said.
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