Sonoma always a test for IndyCar drivers 

Infineon Raceway is playing host this weekend to the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, where unpredictably has reigned supreme the past six years.

Six different drivers have won here in the past six years, including last year’s winner Will Power, who has four wins on the season and currently sits in second place in the season-long points race, 47 points behind leader Dario Franchitti.

Sitting in third place is two-time IndyCar Series winner Scott Dixon, who’s looking to duplicate the success he had in Sonoma back in 2007, where he was standing in the winner’s circle.

"It’s a tough place to race, and it’s been mixed results here in Sonoma," Dixon said this week at a news conference in San Francisco. "It’s definitely a challenge at this track, which makes qualifying very important."

Dixon, who is 73 points back of Franchitti, knows with only four races left after this weekend, he needs a good run in Sonoma to have any shot at a third series championship.

"It’s time for us to get going," said Dixon, who has one win on the circuit this season. "We had such a brutal start to the season that we missed out on a lot of points, but this should be a fantastic weekend."

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who also won at this very same track in 2008, was also present at the luncheon and talked about the strategy he had then as well as the game plan for Sunday.

"At his track, a lot of people do two-pit stops and if you do three stops, you have to really be [precise]." said Castroneves, who currently sits in 11th place in the standings. "In 2008, we were the only team to do three stops."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won this past weekend’s crash-marred Indy 225 in Loudon, N.H., looks to move up the ladder from his eighth spot in the standings.

"It’s just good to get past last weekend and get the ball rolling here in Sonoma," Hunter-Reay said, who had to wait for a three–person IndyCar panel’s decision to uphold his victory last weekend.

The Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be starting its engine shortly after 1:30 p.m. Sunday.


Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

SITE: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma

SCHEDULE: Friday, practice; Saturday, practice, qualifying (Versus, 3-4 p.m.); Sunday, race, 1:45 p.m. (Versus, 1-4 p.m.)

DISTANCE: 172.725 miles, 75 laps

LAST YEAR: Team Penske’s Will Power raced to the last of his five 2010 victories, leading 73 of 75 laps at the track where he broke his back in practice in 2009. Scott Dixon was second.

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