News for the Week of September 12 – September 18, 2016

Pagenaud wins race and championship at Sonoma – Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud dominated the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and won the race and 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Will Power was running in P2 when a mechanical problem brought his car to a halt in the middle of the race. Though he continued on, he could only muster a P20 finish 8 laps down. The rest of the Top 5 was Rahal, Montoya, Hunter-Reay, and Rossi. Relive race day with our live blog here. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (9/18/2016)

AA extends RHR/DHL through 2020 – “Andretti Autosport and DHL Express announced today the extension of their partnership which began in 2011. The world’s leading express services provider will remain the primary sponsor on the No. 28 Andretti Autosport IndyCar through 2020…In addition to this partnership extension, the Indianapolis-based, four-time Indy 500 and IndyCar Series Champions confirmed that series veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay will pilot the DHL-sponsored machine for four years beyond this weekend’s 2016 season finale.” – Andretti Autosport – (9/18/2016)

Sonoma starting lineup – The starting grid with tire designations for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway is available at the link. Conor Daly is the only driver to start on primary tires. – INDYCAR – (9/18/2016)

Newgarden fastest in final practice at Sonoma – Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden set the fastest time in final practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma with a lap of 1:17.6431. The rest of the Top 5 was Dixon, Sato, Kimball, and Rossi. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (9/18/2016)

Curry family and Kawhi Leonard visit Sonoma – NBA stars Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard, as well as Curry’s wife Ayesha (the grand marshal of the event), are on-site at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Check out NBC Sports’ Tony DiZinno’s recap at the link. – NBC Sports – (9/18/2016)

Pagenaud wins pole and vital point in qualifying at Sonoma – Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud won the pole for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma with a lap of 1:16.2565 in the Firestone Fast 6. Pagenaud won a championship point for his effort and extended his championship lead. The rest of the Firestone Fast 6 was Castroneves, Montoya, Power, Rahal, and Hunter-Reay. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (9/17/2016)

Sonoma qualifying groups – The qualifying groups for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway are available at the link. Qualifying is at 6PM ET on NBCSN. – INDYCAR – (9/17/2016)

Marco tops the charts in Practice 3 at Sonoma – Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti’s lap of 1:16.3052 led the way in Practice 3 for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. The rest of the Top 5 was Montoya, Hunter-Reay, Power, and Munoz. Newgarden (tire barrier) and Hinchcliffe (wall) each brought out red flags after contact. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (9/17/2016)

Menards to sponsor Team Penske/Pagenaud for 10 races in ’17 – “Team Penske announced today that it has reached a partnership extension with industry-leading home improvement store company Menards for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season and beyond. The easily-identifiable bright yellow paint scheme of Menards will continue to shine on track with 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship contender Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Dallara/Chevrolet for 10 races in 2017, including the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28.” Full story at the link. – Team Penske – (9/17/2016)

Hinch takes DWTS partner Burgess for two-seater ride – James Hinchcliffe took his Dancing With the Stars partner Sharna Burgess for a two-seater ride at Sonoma Raceway on Friday. “I completely terrified myself going into this experience,” said Burgess. “I just didn’t know what to expect. I mean, 165 mph is a lot faster than I’ve ever gone and faster than I’ll ever go again. I knew I was in safe hands with James, but still at the same time, you can’t expect to know what that feels like. But I actually two turns in was like ‘Oh, this is amazing!’” – INDYCAR – (9/17/2016)

Helio fastest again in Practice 2 at Sonoma – Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves was fastest for the second straight session in Practice 2 for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway with a lap of 1:16.6678. The rest of the Top 5 was Power, Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay and Rossi. The session ended early as Conor Daly’s machine went up in smoke and Alexander Rossi had to pull off course with engine problems. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (9/16/2016)

Helio fastest in Practice 1 at Sonoma – Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves was fastest in Practice 1 for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway with a lap of 1:17.3298. The rest of the Top 5 was Andretti, Rahal, Hawksworth, and Hunter-Reay. Honda had 7 of the Top 10 positions. Full results here. – INDYCAR – (9/16/2016)

Emotional week for RHR – Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star has a tidy report on Ryan Hunter-Reay’s emotional week in the buildup to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Hunter-Reay and his wife, Beccy Gordon, celebrated the birth of their third child on Wednesday. However, both of Gordon’s parents were found dead in their home on Wednesday. Gordon’s birthday is Friday as well. Hunter-Reay is in Sonoma and asked for privacy this weekend. – Indianapolis Star – (9/16/2016)

The Open Wheel’s Sonoma preview – The Open Wheel’s Dylan Reynolds’ preview of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway includes all relevant weekend information, historical stats, predictions, fantasy advice, and more. Check it out at the link. – The Open Wheel – (9/16/2016)

Pagenaud and Power drive through downtown San Francisco – Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were joined by Ed Jones in a two-seater with the Astor Cup as a passenger as they drove their cars through The Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco on Thursday. “INDYCAR really put the pedal to the metal with this awesome show,” said Pagenaud. “San Francisco is obviously a very touristic place and we reached nearly every market today on The Embarcadero. But quite frankly, it’s a dream come true to be in this position fighting for the championship and being this close to the Astor Cup and being one of the last two guys fighting for it is pretty awesome and a great experience.” – INDYCAR – (9/16/2016)

INDYCAR announces ’17 aero kit freeze, new universal aero kit for ’18 – “INDYCAR announced today it has placed a freeze on aero kit development for manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda that will take effect immediately in preparation for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Manufacturers will run their current aero kit specifications next season as INDYCAR prepares to introduce a universal aero kit for the start of the 2018 season.” “Today’s announcement follows an extended dialogue with Chevrolet, Honda, our teams and stakeholders – this decision focused on what is best for the future of the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations. “This is an integral component to INDYCAR’s long-term plan to continue to produce the highest quality of on-track competition while also positioning ourselves to add additional engine manufacturers.” Full details at the link. – INDYCAR – (9/14/2016)

2017 Indy Lights schedule released – The 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires schedule has been released. ” Indy Lights will be featured on 10 weekends alongside the Verizon IndyCar Series headline event, marking a total of 16 races with doubleheader rounds on the streets of St. Petersburg, at Barber Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course), Road America, on the streets of Toronto and at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Indy Lights will contest single rounds at Iowa Speedway, Gateway and Watkins Glen. The crown jewel in the series’ schedule remains the Freedom 100 on Carb Day of the Indianapolis 500.” Full schedule at the link. – Indy Lights – (9/14/2016)

Zanardi wins another gold medal – Alex Zanardi won another gold medal in Paralympic hand-cycling on Wednesday. “Normally I don’t thank God for these type of things as I believe God has more important stuff to worry about, but today is too much, I had to raise my eyes and thank him,” Zanardi said. “I feel very lucky, I feel my life is a never-ending privilege.” – NBC Sports – (9/14/2016)

Miller’s Mailbag 9/14/16 – RACER’s Robin Miller’s weekly fan Q&A is a great read as always. – RACER – (9/14/2016)

Trackside podcast 9/13/16 – 1070 The Fan’s Trackside with Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee radio show from 9/13/16 is a great listen as always. The pair previews the final race of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season at Sonoma Raceway. – 1070 The Fan – (9/14/2016)

Sonoma spotter guide – The spotter guide for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway is available at the link. It features a new livery for Alexander Rossi in the No. 98 that he drove in Sonoma testing last week. See them all at the link. – INDYCAR – (9/14/2016)

Sonoma entry list – The entry list for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway is available at the link. As expected, there are 22 entries. – INDYCAR – (9/13/2016)

Ganassi wants multi-year Chilton deal – RACER reports Chip Ganassi Racing Teams is working on a “multi-year deal” to keep rookie Max Chilton in their Verizon IndyCar Series program for years to come. “We are working really hard to retain Max for hopefully more than one additional year if we can make that happen,” CGRT managing director Mike Hull told RACER. “He will benefit greatly if we are able to do that together. It’s a terrific opportunity for Max to be able to excel, and the benefit will come to all of us when he continues with Ganassi Racing.” More at the link. – RACER – (9/13/2016)

SPM working on 3 teams for ’17 – RACER’s Marshall Pruett reports that while it’s expected Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will continue with their same car/driver combinations for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, there’s a chance of expanding to three teams thanks to a “possible expansion on the ARROW side.” “We are right on plan there with Arrow,” SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt told RACER. “We started the program three years ago and it has been growing every year. We have always had the ambition to have a second technology industry-based car, but we are not quite there with the budget to be able to do that. We are working on it as we speak.” Full story at the link. – RACER – (9/13/2016)

Bretzman talks Pagenaud before Sonoma – Simon Pagenaud’s race engineer, Ben Bretzman, spoke to David Malsher of about the team and driver’s preparation for the final weekend of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series at Sonoma Raceway. “Will has got to still be considered the benchmark around there, but we were pretty happy with the test; Simon was stringing it all together,” Bretzman told “And we know what we have to do. But Sonoma is tough because the wind changes and affects the handling of the cars so much – and Simon thinks about it too much sometimes! But like I say, the test went well because he just got in and got on with it.” Much more at the link. – – (9/13/2016)

NY Post reporter chronicles first INDYCAR race – The New York Post’s Lindsey Kupfer tweeted about her “interest” in James Hinchcliffe when the driver appeared on Family Feud and because of that INDYCAR invited her to the Pocono race and she wrote a wonderful piece on her behind-the-scenes experience at her first race. Check it out at the link. – New York Post – (9/13/2016)

Marco and Newgarden take in New York Fashion Week – Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden spent some time together in New York City for the start of New York Fashion Week. The duo was front row at The Rag & Bone Spring 2017 fashion show. “They definitely made some sales,” said Andretti. “It was a lot to take in at once, trying to look at all the different unique beautiful-looking individuals as well as the different attire, so it was cool.” – INDYCAR – (9/13/2016)

Hinch ties for best score on DWTS opening night – James Hinchcliffe and pro partner Sharna Burgess earned a tie for the highest score on Dancing With the Stars on Monday night. #TeamStopAndGo’s score of 31 tied gymnast Laurie Hernandez and her pro partner and Hinch received rave reviews from the judges. Full voting information at the link. – INDYCAR – (9/13/2016)

Support Hinch on DWTS on Monday 9/12 at 8PM on ABC – “On Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET, Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe will hit the dance floor for the Season 23 premiere of “Dancing With The Stars.” Hinch and his professional dance partner, Sharna Burgess, need your support!” Full details on how it works, promotional images/information, and much more at the link. – INDYCAR – (9/12/2016)

Carlin and Juncos still working towards IndyCar Series – NBC Sports’ Tony DiZinno had a nice report on Carlin and Juncos Racing’s aspirations of moving towards the Verizon IndyCar Series in the future. Each still has strong intentions of making the move but were more likely to make the move in 2018 rather than 2017. However, that was before Carlin’s Ed Jones won the Indy Lights championship and subsequent $1 million scholarship for the Verizon IndyCar Series over the weekend. Full story at the link and it’s a great read. – NBC Sports – (9/12/2016)

Jones wins Lights title as Veach dominates in Race 2 win at Laguna Seca – Zach Veach led every green flag lap to win Indy Lights Race 2 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca but Ed Jones did enough to win the championship and earn a scholarship for Verizon IndyCar Series races next year. The rest of the Top 5 was Urrutia, Kaiser, Jones, and Serralles. Carlin teammate Serralles pulled over on the last lap to allow Jones to pass him and that was the move that gave Jones the championship. Had Jones stayed in P5 he and Urrutia would have been tied in points and Urrutia would’ve won the race wins tiebreaker four to two. Full results here. – Indy Lights – (9/11/2016)

Kaiser dominates and wins Lights Race 1 at Laguna Seca – Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser led every lap and had the fastest lap in Indy Lights Race 1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The rest of the Top 5 was Jones, Veach, Rayhall, and Urrutia. That result puts Jones seven points ahead of Urrutia heading into Sunday’s finale and those two are the only championship contenders left. Full results here. – Indy Lights – (9/10/2016)

Sonoma test recap – RACER’s Marshall Pruett posted an excellent update on the Verizon IndyCar Series test at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest in each session while Indy Lights drivers Zach Veach (ECR), Santiago Urrutia (SPM No. 7), and Andre Negrao (SPM No. 5) each got some time in the big cars. – RACER – (9/9/2016)

INDYCAR releases ’17 testing details – “INDYCAR announced today testing regulations for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season highlighted by four open tests during the season and an overall reduction in the amount of in-season testing. INDYCAR will conduct the following open tests next year: Feb. 10-11 at Phoenix International Raceway; March 21 at Barber Motorsports Park; May 2 at Gateway Motorsports Park and Sept. 14 at Sonoma Raceway – the same week as the season finale in 2017.” More at the link. – NBC Sports – (9/8/2016)

Sonoma Raceway names Ayesha Curry as grand marshal – “Celebrity chef and popular Bay Area personality Ayesha Curry has been named Grand Marshal of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway, Sept. 16-18.” “This will be my first time going to Sonoma Raceway and a Verizon IndyCar Series event, so I’m very excited,” said Curry. “You can’t beat seeing a sporting event like this in person, and I’m sure it will be an incredible experience. It’s an honor to be named Grand Marshal. I can’t wait to say “Drivers, start your engines!” – Sonoma Raceway – (9/8/2016)

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