Simon Pagenaud cruised to another dominating victory Sunday afternoon in Sonoma to earn his first IndyCar series championship. The title had pretty much been a foregone conclusion for weeks despite a little closing of the gap by Will Power at Pocono. All doubt was erased after qualifying Saturday when Pagenaud took the pole on his last lap.
Will Power’s last hope ended on lap 36 with a clutch issue. He stalled on the backstretch causing the day’s only yellow. He finished eight laps behind. Power did not have a bad season. Four victories and two second place finishes will usually win a title. Missing the St. Pete race cost him this Astor Cup.
The interesting part of the race was the battle for third place in the standings between Helios Castroneves and Josef Newgarden. Newgarden finished sixth Sunday and Castroneves was seventh. Helio ended the season third by two points.
Roger Penske celebrated his fiftieth year in motorsports capturing the top three spots in the championship.
We now enter Silly Season. According to all sources every driver seems headed for a new seat next year. A slight exaggeration perhaps, but there will be a lot of movement. The number of Indy Lights drivers able to move up is another unknown.
Will there be fewer teams? Team consolidation is possible. Has Ed Jones winning the Lights title accelerated Carlin’s jump to IndyCar?
Josef Newgarden has eight days to respond to his offer from Ed Carpenter Racing.
The event. The staff at Sonoma Raceway did a great job this weekend. You could tell they had done their homework. Saturday and Sunday had the biggest crowds I’ve seen here in the three years I’ve gone. It ok s also a fan friendly track. After parking, fans receive a card with the lot number and shuttle color to take when they leave. Sunday as we stood in line, workers passed out water bottles.
Next Monday I will have my season review and more about next season. I will also have some Sonoma photos.
Update: It appears Newgarden and Rossi are now off the table. Josef moving on to Penske and Rossi staying with Andretti/Herta.