1. Sonoma’s new look
The Raceway in Sonoma (Calif.) has been tweaked in advance of Sunday’s GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (4:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network) in order to create more passing on what has been a course that’s tough to gain positions on outside of pit road. Turns 7, 9, and 11 have received changes of some sort, with 11 emerging as the potential hot spot for passing after its 200-foot extension. Let’s see if the show improves.
2. Power x 3?
Will Power took over the points lead three weeks ago at Mid-Ohio and has won the last two races at Sonoma — oh, and he’ll also start on the pole for tomorrow’s 85-lap event. Everything sure seems to be lining up for Power to extend his six-point edge over Ryan Hunter-Reay. At the risk of stating the obvious, Sonoma’s highly technical nature fits Power to a T and unless something big happens, expect the Australian to be in contention for victory once again in Cali’s wine country.
3. Can RHR respond?
With three races left, Hunter-Reay can’t afford any more engine failures like the one that cost him the top spot in the standings at Mid-Ohio. But in order to keep pace or overtake Power in Sonoma, he’ll have to defy what has been a rather blah record in Northern California. In five IndyCar starts at Sonoma, RHR’s highest finish is an eighth he achieved in 2010. Needless to say, he’ll need to be much stronger on Sunday; his title hopes depend on it.
4. “Lurking in the water”
Can’t forget about Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon, who sit 26 and 28 points off of Power respectively going into Sunday. Castroneves (starting 4th) and Dixon (starting 5th) each have one Sonoma win to their credit and both have finished in the top-5 in their last two runs there. They’ll both likely have a say in the outcome.
NOTE: Currently slated to absorb 10-spot grid penalties for unapproved engine changes are Takuma Sato (now on Engine No. 6), Sebastian Saavedra (unapproved engine change at Indianapolis), Justin Wilson (unapproved engine change between Mid-Ohio and Sonoma), and Simona de Silvestro (now on Engine No. 7).
12-12:30 p.m. ET — Warmup
4 p.m. ET — #GoProGP of Sonoma, NBC Sports Network (GREEN at 4:42 p.m. ET)