IndyCar Sonoma Season Finale Race Review: Ho-hum Edition



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Frenchman Simon Pagenaud won the GoPro Grand Prix again on Sunday, while his teammate Josef Newgarden secured his first championship by finishing second in the hum sponsored car. Starting from pole and leading in points, it was Newgarden’s title and race to lose. Unsurprisingly, the first American champion in half a decade brought it home safely for an all Penske podium in a rather ho-hum contest.

The season’s ultimate race proved a mundane affair and went off largely as we’d predicted with no cautions, little passing or on track action and only three leaders – and that’s counting Conor Daly’s three laps led. SPM’s James Hinchcliffe provided some comic relief right from the start, getting hit by Spencer Pigot and spinning off course. He restarted the 5 machine but eventually became the first to retire with an electrical issue. Hinch’s early exit was indicative of his year and provided a prime example of poetic justice for the controversial team.


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Not to be outdone, Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato drove off the dusty track and dropped back on the first lap too, ruining a fifth place start. Tony Kanaan was forced to pit after another collision caused a flat tire that also sent him off track. He’d go on to finish sixteenth in his last race for Chip Ganassi. As Townsend Bell pointed out, it was TK’s third race in a row with a first lap issue going back to Gateway. It’s becoming painfully obvious that it’s time to call it quits, Tony.

The only other remarkable moment of the finale came during the final pit stop cycle. Newgarden exited the pits and briefly raced Pagenaud for the lead before letting the reigning champion – already on warm tires – go and tucking into second. Second was good enough for Newkid and that’s how it would end, with the new champ following the outgoing title holder to the checkered flag. Will Power, Scott Dixon and Helio Castro-Neves rounded out the top five in possibly Helio’s last race other than the 500.


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Team Penske’s won three of the last four titles and took ten victories on the year. It was an anticlimactic end to a season than seemed to lack continuity and was certainly short on intrigue. On a high note, at least those god awful aero kits are finally history and now we can all look forward to a brand new car as well as a new season. Hopefully, it’ll be less predictable and more entertaining than the one just concluded.

8 thoughts on “IndyCar Sonoma Season Finale Race Review: Ho-hum Edition

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