Racing Series

VICS: Previewing the IndyCar GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

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SONOMA, Calif. —†For the final time in the 2014 season, the Verizon IndyCar series will make left and right turns as driverís race through wine country during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, on Sunday, August 24.

After winning this past week at the Milwaukee Mile, Team Penskeís Will Power knows his way around Sonoma. The series championship leader has to be feeling good about his chances at Sonoma as he has won three of the last four races at the track. In the race he didnít win during that span, 2012, he finished second to NTT Data Chip Ganassiís Ryan Briscoe. Power is also hoping to increase his points lead over teammate Helio Castroneves with hopes of locking-up his first championship the following weekend at Fontana.

With a road win at Belle Isle Race 2, Castroneves would like nothing better to reach victory circle and cut away at his point deficit to his Penske teammate. In addition to his win, Castroneves has been on the podium three other times this season on a road/street race, and if he wants his hopes of his first championship to stay alive, a race win is inevitable.

Coming off his 2012 win at Sonoma, Briscoe is desperate for a highlight this season. With only one top-5, a fourth place finish at Pocono, Briscoe has only 7 top-10 finishes this season, and a win would give his team a much needed morale booster. Looking to end the season on high-note, the NTT Chip Ganassi squad would have something to build on in the off season for next year.

Someone to keep an eye on the road course is Schmidt Peterson Motorsportsís Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud has posted two road victories this season at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Race 2. Currently third in the points, Pagenaud would benefit from a great run, even a victory, at Sonoma to keep his title hopes alive.

Just like Pagenaud, Ed Carpenter Racingís Mike Conway has two road/street wins this season. His first win of the season was at the Toyota GP of Long Beach, before taking the checkers at the Honda Indy Toronto Race 2 just over a month ago. With the announcement of a merger between ECR and Sarah Fisher Racing this week, Conway and the Ed Carpenter team would like to cap of an exciting week with a victory.

Coming off a disappointing finish in Milwaukee, Andretti Autosportís Ryan Hunter-Reay not only fell in the standings, but seems to be too far behind to defend his 2013 championship. One bright side for RHR is that he has been strong at Sonoma over the years and although he might be out, a win by the DHL group would be welcomed.

Other drivers to pick-up wins on road/street circuits this year include Dale Coyne Racingís Carlos Heurtas (The Shell and Pennzoil GP of Houston Race 1), KVSH Racingís Sebastien Bordais (Honda Indy Toronto Race 1) and Target Chip Ganassiís Scott Dixon (Mid-Ohio).

Despite getting his Sonoma race win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Team Penskeís Juan Pablo Montoya would like to spoil everyone elseís fun Sunday. Already visiting victory lane earlier this season at Pocono, Montoya is looking for his first multi-win season since he visited victory lane three times in 2005 when he competed in Formula One.

Sonoma is a 2.38-mile road course that features 11 turns, hills and some tough racing action. Watch for divers to make passes on tight turns like the hairpin, as well as high speed sections such as the first uphill climb. These two areas of the track will allow the drivers multiple opportunities if they want to improve their track position. It will take patients, smart moves and a little bit of luck to keep your car whole, but if you can do that, your reward could be a trip to victory circle.

With title implications on the line, you can rest assure that the racing on Sunday will be spectacular.

The race will be televised on NBC Sports Network starting at 4:00 pm ET. It can also be heard on Sirius 213 and XM 209, as well at IndyCar.com

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About Jacob Mullins

Jacob Mullins serves as the managing editor and senior NASCAR writer covering all three national touring series's. You can find him on on Twitter at @JMulls15. An intercollegiate athletic administrator by trade, Mullins can be found at the big tracks as well as the local short tracks in the Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Mullins enjoys social media, photography and graphic design. A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Mullins follows all forms of racing, Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles) and college football (Virginia Tech Hokies).

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