IZOD IndyCar Trailer
Early morning IndyCar garage
Two-Seater Rides Queues
Panther Racing Guests
National Guard Two-Seater
………………………It started out foggy first thing Friday morning at Sonoma for the first of three days of race with IZOD IndyCars and the Pirelli World Challenge Sports Car Wars. But, the sun was quick to shine, in time for the morning rides in the IndyCar two-seaters and Pace Cars. IndyCar has a pool of drivers from which it draws each weekend to be the chauffeurs for these rides. This weekend they are MARIO ANDRETTI, LOGAN GOMEZ, DAVEY HAMILTON, ARIE LUYENDYK and ARIE LUYENDYK Jr. Among the lucky passengers Friday morning are the invited guests of Panther Racing – National Guard troops and first responders such as firemen, policemen, medical personnel, etc. One of the two seaters is decked out in National Guard livery. The Panther Race Car will have a special paint scheme for the weekend, but the car is not yet seen in the paddock.

IndyCars aren’t on track until 2:30pm local time, after World Series qualifying. The sports cars had their practice sessions Thursday, and Friday midday they Qualify.

Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves

The only driver sighting I had on my first stroll through the relatively quiet garage was HELIO CASTRONEVES/Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet.

Twenty-seven IndyCar drivers are entered, two more than usual. Andretti Autosport has added SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA from Colombia to No.17 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet; and Rookie KATHTERINE LEGGE of England joins SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS of France driving for Dragon Racing. Each will be sporting TrueCar sponsorship on their Chevrolets.

Legge joins this year’s youngest driver, ┬áJOSEF NEWGARDEN of TN/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, and SIMON PAGENAUD of France/Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda in the Rookie category. Pagenaud is currently leading those standings by 137 points, and if he finishes eighth or better this weekend, he will clinch the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. Also, he still can take home the trophy if he finishes 107 points ahead of Newgarden. Those two are the only Rookies running the full season. Legge has run selected races.

Chevrolet Logo
Honda Logo
Lotus Logo
In another points race, this weekend could see the clinching of the engine Manufacturer’s Championship. Chevrolet leads with 96 points to Honda’s 84 and Lotus’ 48. If Chevrolet wins this weekend, they win for 2012. Chevrolet has 15 drivers, Honda-11; and Lotus one.