SONOMA, California – Championship leader Josef Newgarden completed a sweep of Verizon IndyCar Series practice today at Sonoma Raceway, leading a Team Penske party atop the time sheet in the afternoon session in preparation for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Newgarden’s fast lap of 1 minute, 16.2485 seconds (112.605 mph) in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was under the track record set in 2016 qualifying by Simon Pagenaud of 1:16.2530 (112.599 mph). Lap records may only be set in qualifying or the race, so Pagenaud’s standard remains for at least a day until Verizon P1 Award qualifying on Saturday.
In his sixth Verizon IndyCar Series season overall and first with Team Penske, Newgarden has held the championship lead since winning at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 30. His advantage heading into this weekend is a mere three points over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, with five other drivers still holding a mathematical shot at the title.
Pagenaud was second fastest in the afternoon practice with a lap of 1:16.2871 (112.549 mph) in the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet. The 33-year-old Frenchman won last year’s Sonoma race from the pole to collect his first season championship. Pagenaud is fourth in the standings, 34 points behind Newgarden.
Helio Castroneves was third in practice in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet (1:16.3471, 112.460 mph). Completing his 20th year in Indy cars and still seeking his first season crown, Castroneves is third in the standings, 22 points out of the lead.
Will Power, the 2014 champion, was fourth this afternoon with a lap of 1:16.4389 (112.325 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Fifth in the standings entering this weekend, Power sits 68 points behind Newgarden.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth in practice and the first non-Penske driver. The driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport posted a fast lap of 1:16.4829 (112.260 mph) on the 12-turn, 2.385-mile permanent road course.
Dixon, in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda, was sixth in the session at 1:16.5863 (112.109 mph).
A final 45-minute practice at 2 p.m. ET Saturday (streaming live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com) precedes three rounds of knockout qualifying beginning at 6:30 p.m. and airing live on NBCSN.
Sunday’s 85-lap race airs live on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. It will mark the 12th consecutive year that the Verizon IndyCar Series championship is determined in the season’s final race.