RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet ended up the fastest IZOD IndyCar driver for the Sunday morning warm-up before the afternoon GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. His lap was 1:19.0645108.595/108.595 mph.
RHR was the last of a string of drivers who were atop the charts, and his second time during the half-hour session. Others included SCOTT DIXON/Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Rookie SIMON PAGENAUD/Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports Honda, pole sitter WILL POWER/Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Pagenaud again, TONY KANAAN/KV Racing Technology w/SH, and MIKE CONWAY/A.J. Foyt Enterprise Honda.
Few drivers ran the red option tires early on in the half-hour session – RHR, TK, and Conway. Then other drivers started switching to the softer tire as the clock clicked down.
The Red Flag situation took 1.53 minute, for CHARLIE KIMBALL/Novo Disk Chip Ganassi Racing continued with bad luck with another off, causing nearly two minutes of Red Flag time. A few other drivers tested their limits also, including Dixon, and GRAHAM RAHAL/Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Once it’s been determined if there will be any more engine changes, the official Starting Grid will be released.
In the interval between the warm-up and the Pre-Race activities, which begin at 12:30pm local time, there are some Pirelli World Challenge races; pace car rides; hot laps with Pirelli World Challenge 2012 GT Champion JOHNNY O’CONNELL in the race Cadillac; and the ever popular Indycar two-seater ride. There are three such cars running this weekend – MARIO ANDRETTI, DAVEY HAMILTON and AIRIE LUYENDYKE Jr.
One such lucky passenger will be the irrepressable WILL BUXTON of England, best known to Yankee early risers for the Sunday Formula One races. Buxton, who is full of more energy than the law should allow, is the Pit Reporter for the US TV coverage on SPEED and Fox.
Buxton is all smiles this weekend. He had a weekend off during the F1 summer break, and he chose to visit – not work – Sonoma for the IndyCar race weekend. Sunday morning’s treat is being unexpectedly approached by Mario Andretti who offered a two-seater ride. Buxton can’t wait – he’s so excited. Matter of fact, he’s been wired all weekend with the spectator experiences. Although he’s seated in the Media Center and will be posting some impressions on his blog, he’s been out and about for two full days.
Friday Buxton took hot laps with O’Connell around the 2.385-mile elevated road course. Will was so enthusiastic afterwards he couldn’t stop talking and sharing his thrill. I took photos of him after the ride and he is now using one as his Twitter photo.
Buxton, who’s based at Silverstone, admitted he’d like to do some work in the US and no doubt has had some interesting meetings. He is a free-lancer and has his own company, appropriately called irrepressible ltd. The name and definition of his persona so fit him.