Infineon - Sear's Point Raceway, Sonoma, California - Image Credit: IndyCar.com
On The Road, Again With The T-Team Ten
At the twists and turns … the ups and downs … the straights and switchbacks of the vaunted Sear’s Point raceway, the final runs of the season take shape and soon, the transition season will be completed.
In the qualifying session of the 15th race in an 18 race season and the sixth of eight street/road courses, the class of the teams new to the old Dallaras and the preponderance of “Left-Turn” racing seems to be KV Racing Technology.
One of the biggest improvements in the T-Team growth and positioning can be found at Pacific Coast Motorsports and driver, Mario Dominguez. After transitioning to the IRL late in the game (soon after Mario drove to a third place podium finish at the final official CCWS race at the Long Beach Grand Prix) and failed to make the grid after getting bumped from the 33 car field at the INDY 500, PCM and Mario have been making steady improvements all along the trail to Infineon Raceway.
Mario Dominguez’s Dallara with the new one race sponsor, Moorefield Construction, Inc., on the sidepod. Image Credit: Ron McQueeney
This excerpted from a Pacific Coast Motorsports press notice –
Dominguez Breaks Into the Second Round of Qualifying with Top IndyCar Start
Peak Antifreeze and Motor Oil Grand Prix of Sonoma
Saturday, August 23, 2008
MARIO DOMINGUEZ, #96 Moorefield Construction/PCM/Honda/Dallara/Firestone
Session - Position Time Speed
Practice 3 - 16th 1:18.4632 105.665
Qualifying - 11th 1:18.3235 105.853
Mario on Qualifying: “I am very happy to have made the top 11 today. It is our best result in IndyCar and to make the second group was great. This result just shows what a hard-working team we all are. We didn’t have the budget to test here with the rest of the field last week, so this result is even sweeter because of that. We always put our best effort forward, and this time it paid off. I think tomorrow should be a good race and we will be shooting for a top-ten result in the Moorefield Construction car at the team’s home race here in California
Tyler Tadevic, Team Owner: “Hoorah! One of our goals this weekend, definitely, was to be part of the fast six from our group and we achieved that! We kicked the season off with a podium in Long Beach which was terrific, but it has been a really tough season. Today was sort of a moral victory for the team making the Firestone Fast 12. I think our performance all year has been a great example of the heart and soul this team has. Mario and the boys are showing it is possible to do a lot with a little.”
Further, PCM picked up a new sponsor for this race – This also excerpted from a Pacific Coast Motorsports press notice –
* Noteworthy: Pacific Coast Motorsports is proud to welcome Moorefield Construction to the team for the Grand Prix of Sonoma. Based in San Jose and Los Angeles , the Moorefield Construction logo will be featured on Mario Dominguez’s #96 IndyCar throughout the Grand Prix of Sonoma.
This excerpted from autosport.com/news –
Castroneves leads Penske front row
By Jeff Olson Sunday, August 24th 2008, 00:00 GMT
With the help of a backup car and the immense effort of teammates, Helio Castroneves won pole position for Sunday's IndyCar race at Sear's Point.
A Penske transporter caught fire on Wednesday on the way to the circuit, destroying Castroneves' primary road-course car, along with teammate Ryan Briscoe's.
Briscoe will start alongside Castroneves as both Penske drivers put their back-up cars on the front row.
Saturday's qualifying session also was impressive for KV Racing, who put both drivers in the fast six final qualifying session. Will Power will start third with Oriol Servia sixth.
"As a team, we're just trying to mingle with the big guys," Servia said. "We're showing we have the speed and we're catching up. Every race we're getting closer. To lead the transitional teams, we just want to take another step forward."
Pos Driver Team Time Speed
3. Will Power KV Racing 1:17.0875 107.551
6. Oriol Servia KV Racing 1:17.8377 106.514
7. Justin Wilson Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1:17.0056 107.665
11. Mario Dominguez Pacific Coast 1:17.4614 107.031
12. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne 1:17.5882 106.856
13. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne 1:17.8306 106.524
14. EJ Viso HVM Racing 1:17.4189 107.090
15. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1:17.9012 106.427
26. Jaime Camara Conquest Racing 1:19.4711 104.325
27. Enrique Bernoldi Conquest Racing no time no speed
Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske lead the field off of the last turn before the Green Flag to start the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (EDJE) 2008 - digital photo from television broadcast
The PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County!
Fair and 79 F (26 C) - Winds Southwest at 10 mph - Sun, 24 Aug 2008 14:54:00 -0700 PDT - Forecast: Sunny, with a high near 85
Great start of the race, Servia gets pinched and looses a spot back to seventh. Junqueira gets passed into the dirt on the Esses by Weldon.
Paddle shifters increase shifts per lap at Sonoma from 37 shifts to 42 due to the ease of shift transition. Will Power is sponsored by the same sponsor as he had in Long Beach earlier this year – Smart & Final wholesale market stores.
Best race on the track at this time is between Oriol Servia and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Pits open up on LAP 10 and some teams may come in early to get off sequence.
Vitor Meira comes in.
Dominguez, Weldon and Mutoh come in early.
Team Penske has opened up a 1.5 second lead on the rest of the field in their back-up cars.
Marty Roth off course in turn seven and this brings out a full-course caution
Most teams use caution to come into the pits. Split strategy by Team Penske with leader Castroneves coming in. Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, and Danica Patrick stay out.
Green, Green, Green! Race restarts. Rahal, Moraes, Carpenter, Camara, and Viso round out the list of those who have not yet pitted. Dominguez works his way up to the top 10.
Mario Dominguez passes Jamie Camara for ninth.
Danica Patrick takes to the pits for the first time along with Graham Rahal, and Ed Carpenter to get upon their sequence.
Ryan Briscoe pits and comes back into the field ahead of Scott Dixon in ninth. This move will help Castroneves in his points race against Dixon.
Still staying out and running up front are EJ Viso, Dan Weldon and Mario Dominguez running at the head of the field in 1-2-3!
Meira pits from fourth position, he is on the same strategy as the leaders.
Dominguez and Weldon pit … Weldon passes Dominguez at the pit stop by having a quicker stop.
Castroneves assumes the lead followed by teammate Briscoe, Dixon Wilson, Power, and Servia round out the top six.
Will Power takes to the pits to change up his fuel strategy.
Helio Castroneves is running about 15 seconds ahead of the field at this slightly over halfway point of the 80 lap race.
Penske’s Castroneves comes into the pits at 16.5 seconds ahead of his teammate. He comes out in 4th. Dixon, Wilson and Andretti come into the pits and comes out in 16th
Briscoe, Kanaan, Castroneves, Patrick, and Weldon round out the top five. Servia pits from third allowing to Helio to move up.
A great dice happens between 2nd position Tony Kanaan of Andretti Green Racing (who has just signed a five year extension on his AGR contract at age 38), and Helio Castroneves in 3rd.
The dice continues between Tony and Helio as Briscoe comes into the pits – Tony leads the race while Helio begins to back off knowing that Tony needs to pit.
Teammates Kanaan and Patrick pit.
Top ten are Castroneves, Weldon, Viso, Meira, Briscoe, Dominguez, Kanaan, Power, Dixon, and Wilson. Of these cars, only Briscoe is in the best position to make to the end on fuel if the race remains in a Green Flag condition.
Castroneves pits and comes back out in 2nd ahead of Briscoe. Dixon pits and comes back out in 14th.
Viso pits from first position for his final pitstop and re-enters 6th handing positions 1 & 2 to Penske teammates Castroneves and Briscoe setting up a possible “Hollywood Ending”!
Last Wednesday, Penske racing losses a transporter to a fire and it burns up both of the primary cars for this race and the back-up cars are leading the race.
If this race ends with the cars holding station … Dixon who leads the points race over Castroneves by 78 points would be cut to 41 points. The IndyCar Series Championship for the 2008 season does not appear to be over just yet!
Helio Castroneves will collect 3 points for leading the most laps at this point in the race.
Eleven laps to go and Buddy Rice, who started 22nd, is now running 10th. If this holds, it will be the biggest move by any driver in the race.
It is not expected that Junqueira will have to come in for fuel. This will allow Dixon to move up to 13th.
Dominguez spins and looses positions from 12th to 17th. Junqueira pits and comes back out 18th.
Dixon passes Mutoh for 12th and fixes his sights on Buddy Rice.
Three laps to go and the 11th place of Buddy Rice is being tightly contested by Scott Dixon and every point matters.
Will Power slides into a braking area and pulls to a stop after hitting the tires.
White Flag and Team Penske is leading the race. Dixon finishes in 12th. This means that he looses 35 points to maintain a 43 point margin in the Championship points race.
19:48:44 GMT-0400 Helio Castroneves wins the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County! This is his first win of the season. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (EDJE) 2008 - digital photo from television broadcast
T-Team Ten Finishes As Follows:
Viso – 6
Rahal – 8
Wilson – 9
Moraes – 10
Servia – 16
Dominguez – 17
Junqueira – 18
Bernoldi - 22
Power – 24
Camara – 25
The highest driver the T-Team Ten has placed 15 races in this Merge season is Oriol Servia at ninth in the points 263 points behind the leader. Do not look for any T-Team driver to overtake Hideki Mutoh of Andretti Green Racing for Rookie-Of-The-Year.
Next race is a venue known by the CCWS teams and that id the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle, Michigan.
… notes from The EDJE