RECAP: Grand Prix of Sonoma
Photographer: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
Saturday afternoon the field of 25 Indy cars took to Sonoma’s 2.385-mile racetrack to set the grid for Sunday’s finale event. With all four Andretti cars advancing to the top 12, it was all eyes on the fight Firestone Fast Six. The quartet of drivers never dropped below the top 10 with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi all advancing to the final round and a chance at Pole. With one final flying lap, Hunter-Reay stole the Pole and P1 point – the seventh of his career – while Andretti and Rossi took starting positions fourth and sixth, respectively. Veach captured the 10th grid position for the final race of his rookie season.
CHASING THE CHECKERS.
For a second race this season, Ryan Hunter-Reay took the checkered flag Sunday in dominating fashion — leading 80 of 85 laps at Sonoma Raceway to take his 18th career victory from the pole position. Hunter-Reay won by 2.7573 seconds over Dixon, surrendering the lead only briefly through pit stop cycles. Sunday’s victory moves Hunter-Reay into sole possession of 26th place on the all-time Indy car wins list.
U.S. Concrete driver Marco Andretti showed contender speed all day Sunday, starting from fourth and going on to capture a 42nd career top-five finish in fifth. Andretti climbed spots in the points standings to place comfortably inside the top 10 in the championship, leaving the season in an eighth-place tie.
Alexander Rossi had his eyes on the Astor Cup starting sixth, but dropped to last place in the 25-car field following a Lap 1 incident that left the 27 machine with a damaged front wing and a punctured tire. Not willing to give up on championship hopes, Rossi stormed his way through the field to finish seventh. Rossi closed the Grand Prix of Sonoma – his 50th career IndyCar start – with a 30th career top-10 finish, but 57 points short of Dixon in the quest for his first series championship.
Zach Veach Rolled off from the top 10 but suffered undertray damage and lost ground early in the race. The Ohio-native finished his rookie season with five top-10 finishes earning second in the Rookie of the Year standings.
The 2019 IndyCar Series season will again consist of 17 races, opening for the ninth straight year with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10.
Keep up to speed between the checkers and the greens with AndrettiAutosport.com and via our suite of social media channels.
IN THEIR WORDS.
NO. 28 DHL HONDA
“I felt like the race just didn't want to end. I guess that's what happens when you spend the whole day out front. Any time I needed the pace to put it down, we leapt out to a lead, I was able to maintain that. Hats off to this team, DHL, AutoNation, Honda – everyone involved. Honda really gave me great drivability, reliability. The Firestone tires were great. Shout out to Kerry Doughty, CEO of Butterball, fighting cancer at home right now. His name was on the side of our car today – this is a special win for him and we’re honored to have him with us in spirit. Also a big shout out to Robbie Wickens – I want to dedicate that win to him and his fight. It was great to see the video message from him today and, hopefully he will back with us as soon as possible.”
NO. 98 U.S. CONCRETE / CURB HONDA
“I’m very pleased to be this quick on a road course here. Not a bad finish for the last race at Sonoma, I would’ve liked it to have gone a bit better. I think if we went with reds early on I think we could have kept [Simon] Pagenaud behind us. [Alexander] Rossi was amazingly quick and we tried to make it easy on him out of the pits and give him a shot. It was pretty cool of them, they knew I gave them the position, and they gave it back there at the end, so we were able to come out with a top five. Congrats to Ryan for closing out the year with a win. We’re ready for 2019.”
NO. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS HONDA
“Hats off to the whole 27 NAPA Team. It was a great day for Andretti Autosport with Ryan [Hunter-Reay] winning so it’s very unfortunate what happened in Turn 1 on Lap 1. It’s a situation I’m sure we’ll all replay a lot of times but, at the end of the day, it’s been a good 2018 and I am very appreciative for all the support we’ve had this year. We came pretty close and we’ll work on the things we need to be better on and come back stronger next year. [Scott] Dixon’s the benchmark. He’s the five-time champion for a reason so he deserves it 100 percent and we’ll work very hard to come back and try to beat him next year.”
NO. 26 GROUP 1001 HONDA
“It was a really tough race for us. We got hit on the start and that damaged our undertray quite a bit, so we were running around with a few hundred pounds less downforce. That made the car very difficult to drive and then trying to make up for that damage – pushed a little too hard and made a mistake. That kind of ended our race, putting us a lap down. I’m frustrated in myself. I should’ve been a little more patient in what we had.”