It’s a gray early morning at Sonoma Raceway for the first of the three-day GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend, featuring the IZOD IndyCar Series, with Pirelli World Challenge Series, Trofeo Maserati Series, and the Formula Car Challenge. The fog will lift and the temperature is forecast to reach 81 in the afternoon.
The paddock is just waking up, and the sounds of the IndyCar two-seaters making VIP hot laps can be heard. IndyCar practice at 11am PT is the first on-track session. The 25-car field has two 45-minute practice sessions, with the second at 2pm PT. The other series have practice, and World Challenge and Maseratis have afternoon qualifying as well.
In addition to the regular season-long IndyCar drivers, this weekend’s additional drivers in regular cars are RYAN BRISCOE/No.4 Panther Racing Chevrolet, Rookie JAMES DAVISON/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, and JR HILDEBRAND/No.98 Bryan Herta Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian Honda. An additional car, No.97 RW Motorsports/SFHR Honda, has been added to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s team, to partner with JOSEF NEWGARDEN. It will be sports car driver, LUCAS LUHR, who races in the American Le Mans Series with GREG PICKETT. This is Luhr’s first time in an IndyCar, and he participated in the private test at Sonoma last week, and this week in the open IndyCar test.
All 25 IndyCar drivers participated in the Wednesday Sonoma test. Twenty-one of the 25 drivers turned their fastest laps in the afternoon, with the Chip Ganassi Honda drivers on top – DARIO FRANCHITTI and SCOTT DIXON. Third through fifth fastest OA and in the afternoon were 2012 IndyCar Champion, RYAN HUNTER-REAY/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet, WILL POWER and current IndyCar points leader, HELIO CASTRONEVES/Penske Racing Chevrolet. Power holds the qualifying track record of 1:17.2709/111.116 mph, set at last year’s IndyCar race.
Last year’s GoPro race winner, RYAN BRISCOE – who was then with Penske Racing – is racing this weekend with Panther Racing Chevrolet, and he was twelfth fastest OA, from the morning session. Former Panther Racing driver, JR HILDEBRAND, is racing in a Honda this weekend. Sonoma Raceway is his home track. He was eighteenth fastest in the Wednesday test.
Sunday’s race is 85 laps/202.73 miles and will air live on NBC Sports Network at 1pm PT/4pm ET.