On the steps of the state capitol building in Sacramento, the six Verizon IndyCar Series championship contenders joined Sonoma Raceway president and general manager Steve Page in accepting a resolution from State Sen. Jim Nielsen recognizing racing’s input to the state’s economy and culture.
The Verizon IndyCar Series title will be decided in California for the fourth consecutive year, and Sonoma Raceway will be the host of the season finale for the first time.
Nielsen arrived in an INDYCAR Experience two-seat Indy car and joined Juan Pablo Montoya, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Page in posing with the Astor Cup, which will be presented to one of the finalists Aug. 30 following the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Each of the drivers said they carry heavy hearts into the race weekend with the passing Aug. 24 of fellow competitor Justin Wilson from a head injury sustained in a race a day earlier. But because racers race, marking the completion of another thrilling season on an exciting road course is therapeutic.
“All times are tough; it doesn’t make (acceptance of) Justin’s death any easier,” said Dixon, a three-time series champion for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. “But when you’re in the car, you switch off. You’re focusing on just how to get through the next corner quicker, running strategy through your head. You’re fully focused on racing.”
Practice kicks off Aug. 28 on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course. Get tickets and information
Catherine McKenna, 85, of Sacramento will watch her first Verizon IndyCar Series race at Sonoma Raceway and support her favorite driver, Castroneves. ... Did you know that the 1,600 acres of Sonoma Raceway has a grounds crew that doesn't ask for much in return? With wildfires prevalent in California, between 1,000 and 3,000 sheep (depending on the season) tend to the rolling hills. … A moment of silence was observed in memory of Wilson before the San Francisco Giants hosted the Chicago Cubs. Rahal threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Awesome fun throwing out the first pitch at the @SFGiants game tonight! Wearing #25 in honor of my buddy JW. ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/kQQdMwad64