Newgarden posts fast lap in final practice before Sonoma race

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SONOMA, Calif. – After claiming the Verizon P1 Award on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway, Simon Pagenaud now leads the Verizon IndyCar Series championship by 44 points over Team Penske teammate Will Power. But after final practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, the Frenchman may have some work to do in this afternoon’s season-ending race.

While Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden led the session with a fast lap of 1 minute, 17.6431 seconds (110.583 mph) in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet, Pagenaud rounded out the session 18th quick (1:18.8396) in the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet. Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) fared no better, as his fast lap of 1:19.0236 (108.651 mph) placed him 21st in the 30-minute session.

GOPRO GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA: Warmup practice results; Combined practice results; Starting lineup/tire designation

Defending Sonoma winner Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) was second quick in the session (1:17.6600, 110.559 mph), followed by Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda, 1:18.1803, 109.823 mph), Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet, 1:18.1921, 109.806 mph) and Alexander Rossi (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda, 1:18.2923, 109.666 mph) rounding out the top five of the 2016 season’s final practice session.

For the 11th straight season, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship is going down to the final race. Pagenaud will lead the field to the green flag for the 85-lap race at the 2.385-mile permanent road course and will clinch the title by finishing fifth or better, no matter what Power does. Pagenaud is chasing his first championship. Power won the 2014 crown and $1 million prize.

Coverage of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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