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INDYCAR NEWS AND NOTES – Aug. 25, 2014

Today’s Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
 
1. Power focusing on finale heading to Fontana 
 
2. Inside the Box Score: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
 
1. Power focusing on finale heading to Fontana: Will Power won’t lose any sleep over what could have been at Sonoma Raceway. 
 
If anything, three consecutive unfulfilled title years has taught Power that such mental anguish is wasteful if not debilitating.
 
So the 33-year-old Austrailian will take the 10th-place finish in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, and a 51-point championship lead, into the MAVTV 500 on Aug. 30 at Auto Club Speedway.
 
His goal: “keep our heads down see what we can do.”
 
Power, who started the penultimate race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season on pole, led a field-high 33 laps on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course. He could have effectively wrapped up his first series title, but a spin on cold tires after a restart midway through the 85-lap race left the door ajar for Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves to swoop in and take the championship fight to the final race for the ninth straight season.
 
To accomplish the feat  in the double-points finale, Castroneves would needs to win and Power place eighth or worse in the day into night 500 miler on the 2-mile oval. 
 
“We maintained the points lead, and we’re going to Fontana,” said Power, who increased the advantage over Castroneves by 12 points through was a disappointing outing for both drivers.
 
Power was in control to win at Sonoma for the fourth time in the past five years before the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car spun in traffic exiting the slow-speed Turn 7 right-hander. 
 
He lost eight positions on the lap but didn’t create further tumult by panicking. After pitting for fresh tires on Lap 61, Power steadily made up ground in the race that featured 20 cars on the lead lap.
 
“That was a good recovery there,” Power said. “We had such a fast car, but that’s the way IndyCar racing goes.”
 
Castroneves, who started sixth in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car, was involved in a multi-car incident less than 30 seconds into the race and also had contact on Lap 36. He limped in 18th.
 
“Anything can happen,” said Castroneves, who also is seeking his first series title after finishing second or third five times. “We are not giving up. We will keep on it and give everything we have next weekend to try and reach our goal. We are still in it and we know what we need to do now over the 500 miles.”
 
Simon Pagenaud advanced 12 positions relative to his starting spot to finish third in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, which kept him in title contention – 81 points back. Race runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, and 2013 champion Scott Dixon, the race winner, also are mathematically eligible until Power takes the green flag for what he hopes will be a triumphant evening after three years of heartache.
 
“I’ve just got to focus on the job at hand and get the most out of every situation,” said Power, who scored his first superspeedway victory in the 2013 finale at Auto Club Speedway from the pole.
 
2. Inside the Box Score: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma: Numbers to note from the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, the 17th race of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season. 
 
3 – Wins by Target Chip Ganassi Racing at Sonoma Raceway.
 
3.87 – Average running position of winner Scott Dixon during the 85 laps of racing.
 
10 – Lead changes in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, the most in the history of the event.
 
11.27 – Average running position of third-place finisher Simon Pagenaud during the 85 laps of racing.
 
16 – Positions improved by Takuma Sato, most of any driver in the field.
 
25 – Laps that Juan Pablo Montoya improved his positions, most of any driver.
 
35 – Career Indy car victories by Scott Dixon, which tied Bobby Unser for fifth on the all-time wins list.
 
36 – Career Indy car pole positions by Will Power, which is sixth all-time.
 
51 – Points separating Will Power and Helio Castroneves in the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings. It’s the largest lead for a driver entering the final race since 2005 when Dan Wheldon had a 92 point lead.
 
118 – Career top-five finishes for Scott Dixon tying Helio Castroneves for eighth on the all-time list. The pair are the active leaders for top-five finishes.
 
200 – Net positions gained by Charlie Kimball in 2014, which leads the standings for the year-end TAG Heuer Don’t Crack Under Pressure Award.
 
232 – Consecutive starts by Kanaan dating to the 2001 CART race in Portland. Kanaan extended his all-time record.
 
***
 
The next Verizon IndyCar Series event is the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The race will be televised live at 9 p.m. (ET) by the NBCSN (Local Cable providers, Verizon FiOS 90/590, DirecTV 220, DISH 159 and AT&T UVerse 640/1640) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network (Local affiliates, XM 209 and Sirius 213), the Verizon INDYCAR 14 App and www.indycar.com

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