Writing about racing. Most of it is NASCAR, but occasionally I write about other series too.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ryan Briscoe Wins GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

By Keri Luiz 
Assistant Editor

(NOTE: this is a 'reprint' of the IndyCar story that I wrote for the sports section of the Benicia Herald. The story ran in the Benicia Herald August 28, 2012. Most of the motorsports stories run in the Sports section of the paper, and do not get posted on the Herald's web site.)

Ryan Briscoe in Victory Lane after winning the GoPro
Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. Photo by Keri Luiz.

Ryan Briscoe, driver of the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, won the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma race Sunday at the raceway at Sonoma. Briscoe’s teammate – Will Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet – had dominated the first half of the race and placed second.

Briscoe’s previous high Sonoma finishes were second in 2008 and 2009, and third in 2011. This was also the first win for Briscoe since Texas in 2010. “It’s great to get the win,” he said in the post-race press conference. “You get into a slump, you know, you think, ‘Man, am I ever going to win again?’ So this is definitely lifting, a confidence builder.”

Briscoe started the race from the second position while Power had started from the pole. Power had looked to dominate the race again, and perhaps win for a third time in a row, when he started on the pole and led most of the first 65 laps.

At lap three, Takuma Sato, driver of the  No. 15 Panasonic Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, had to pull off the course with a mechanical issue. His car remained parked behind the K-Wall of the esses of turn 8.

The race had run caution-free for 64 laps, and it was looking like the Izod IndyCar Series was going to have an unprecedented three races in a row of solid green-flag laps.  But at lap 64, a wreck between Josef Newgarden – driver of the No. 67 Angie’s List  Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda – and Sebastien Bourdais – driver of the  No. 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing Cheverolet – put Newgarden into the tire wall between turns 8 and 9. This caused the first full-course caution of the day. Newgarden injured his left index finger during the accident and will be re-evaluated when he returns to Indianapolis.

Power had made his pit stop at lap 64, and Briscoe went in at lap 65. A slow pit stop and slower drivers holding up Power made it possible for Briscoe to beat Power to the blend line after exiting Pit Road and inheriting the lead.

Briscoe kept the lead on the restart. At lap 75, another full course caution was brought out when Ryan Hunter-Reay – driver of the No. 28 Sun Drop Andretti Autosport Chevrolet – spun after contact from Alex Tagliani – driver of the No. 98 Barracuda Networks  Bryan Herta Autosports Honda.

Briscoe took the checkered flag at the conclusion of lap 85. “Really proud of the whole team,” Briscoe said. “Flawless in the pits, Roger (Penske) with the strategy.”

Power finished second, with Dario Franchitti – driver of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda –  taking the final spot on the podium in third.

Ryan Briscoe, center, flanked by 2nd place Will Power, left, and Dario Franchitti, right in a Sonoma style podium. Photo by Keri Luiz.

Power also extended his championship points lead and clinched the Mario Andretti Road Trophy. Chevrolet clinched the IZOD IndyCar Series Manufacturer’s championship.

On racing in Sonoma, Briscoe said that he has always done well there.

“I got my first-ever pole position here and we’ve been top-five every year pretty much for the last five years, so it’s great to finally get the win.”

No comments:

Post a Comment