2016 IndyCar Series finale: Pagenaud or Power?
The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series finale at 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway would brings us the new champion this weekend. There are only two contenders – the Frenchman Simon Pagenaud in the #22 car and Australian Will Power in the #12 car. For Pagenaud, if he takes the title, it will be his maiden triumph. Power was the 2014 champion and now he has a chance to double-up his title score.
Is the 43-point gap too much for Power?
The two rivals and Team Penske teammates are entering the season’s finale with 43-point advantage on Pagenaud’s side. The gaps seems big, but with the finale paying double race points, Power can still win the title by finishing in the top five in Sunday’s 85-lap race, depending on how Pagenaud would finish.
The last year’s finale, also at Sonoma, showed us that everything is possible. In 2015, Scott Dixon trailed Juan Pablo Montoya by 47 points. Dixon won the race, Montoya was sixth and Dixon earned his fourth crown. The 2016 finale marks the 11th straight season that the series champion will be determinated in the last race.
Chevrolet or Honda? Rossi or Daly?
When looking the previous results at Sonoma Raceway, Power’s chances are growing. The Australian driver won three times and took five pole positions at the Californian circuit. On the other side, Pagenaud’s best result in Sonoma was third place in 2014. Of course, the old statistics wouldn’t solve the title dilema but the on-track battle. For Pagenaud, fourth place on Sunday would be enough for his maiden title, no matter what Power does.
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma would be also the decisive race for the manufacturers’ standings and the Rookie of the Year award. Chevrolet, winner of four straight titles since engine competition resumed in 2012, holds a 71-point lead over Honda heading into the weekend. Among IndyCar Rookies, Indy500 winner Alexander Rossi leads Conor Daly by 75 points.
The Sonoma event starts on Friday with practice session. Qualifying are scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on Saturday while the race will start at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.