SONOMA, California - Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power completed a one-day test session at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday in preparation for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ championship race weekend at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 15-17.
The test was particularly important for the Team Penske drivers, as all four are among the seven drivers still in championship contention.
Newgarden (560 points) leads the point standings by three points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon with Team Penske teammates Castroneves (538), defending series champion Pagenaud (526) and 2014 series champion Power (492) also within reach of the championship.
“We’re in a good position with the points lead, but it’s not anything secure,” Newgarden said. “We’ve got to have a good weekend here, and I think having a test day like today is always helpful. What we learned today we want to apply to the race weekend. Team Penske has always been strong here, so we’ve got to execute on that.”
Despite wet conditions during the morning, the drivers were able to get on track around noon and completed approximately five hours of testing throughout the afternoon.
“It was a little bit misty this morning and a little bit cooler, so we didn’t start right away, but at the end of the day the entire Team Penske got a little taste of what it’s going to be like next week and were able to try some interesting things,” said Castroneves, who won at Sonoma in 2008. “So, right now, we feel more prepared than ever, but things can always change.”
The Team Penske drivers, along with the rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series field expected to compete in the GoPro Grand Prix, will conduct a promoter test day at Sonoma on Sept. 14 prior to the race weekend. Ticket holders for the race, or fans who purchase race tickets at the gate, will be granted access to the test day.
For the third consecutive year, the Verizon IndyCar® Series will host its season finale on the Sonoma Raceway road course. Double points will be awarded for the season finale, which will mark the 12th consecutive year the IndyCar Series championship has been decided in the final race, which will be televised by NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 17.
“You can only control so much within the championship,” said Newgarden, who has posted a best finish of sixth in Sonoma. “The only thing we can really do is try to focus on winning the race and do the best job we can with that. If we win the race, we win the championship and for us that’s the best thing, that we control our own destiny.”