It would be mildly shocking if one of the three Team Penske drivers weren’t victorious in Sunday’s Sonoma Grand Prix (6:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) at the Sonoma Raceway. I mean, Penske has won three of the five races on natural road courses in 2018 and have dominated this race over the last eight years.
In fact, a Penske driver has won this race in six of the last eight years. Would you want to bet against them on Sunday?
They need a win too. Penske has won each of the last two Verizon IndyCar Series championships and three of the last four overall. Heading into Sunday’s season finale, they have two drivers still eligible to hoist the Astor Cup championship trophy. But, those drivers need some help making it three straight.
Both Josef Newgarden and Will Power HAVE to win this weekend in order to give themselves a shot. They each enter 87 points out of the lead. In order to make up that much ground on Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi, they have to first win. It’s a double points race so that puts them in the ballpark. Then, they have to hope Dixon AND Rossi have problems and finish well outside of the top 10.
It’s certainly possible, but not likely. Dixon, has two finishes of 15th or worse in his last five Sonoma starts. Rossi, finished 21st last year on the wine country track.
Plus, both are good at Sonoma.
Newgarden, finished second last year and has three top six finishes in his last four Sonoma starts. He’s also started on the front row in three of those four years too.
Power, finished third last year for a 1-2-3 Penske podium sweep. He has five podiums including three wins and a runner-up at Sonoma since 2010. He also has five pols and eight top four starting spots in that time frame.
They’re the ones to beat.
If they don’t win, then Simon Pagenaud will. He’s won in each of the last two years at Sonoma and has four top five finishes in his last five Sonoma starts. He led 76 laps in his 2016 win and 41 more last year. Pagenaud, while not mathematically eligible for this year’s championship, does have four top 10’s in five starts on natural road courses this season.
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