Power wins chaotic race in Sonoma
26 August 2013 – Will Power took his first victory of the IndyCar season at the Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, the Australian profiting from a controversial penalty handed down to Scott Dixon, who collided with one of the Penske mechanics during the final round of pit-stops. Justin Wilson claimed second, with pole-sitter Dario Franchitti third.
The early phase of the race was a markedly stop-start affair, with Charlie Kimball bringing out the first of the day's seven cautions on the opening lap following contact with Hélio Castroneves. The Turn 7 hairpin appeared to be the venue’s incident hot-spot, with a clutch of drivers, including Wilson and Simona de Silvestro, being tipped into spins by overly-ambitious late-braking rivals throughout the race.
Franchitti led until the first round of stops, with Ganassi team-mate Dixon showing superior pace on fresh rubber – the two eventually swapping positions on Lap 21. Dixon and Power dropped back to second and fourth during the second pit-stop phase, falling behind the out-of-sync pairing of James Hinchcliffe and Wilson, who had utilised the earlier caution periods to embark on alternative strategies.
After Hinchcliffe and Wilson had pitted, the battle for the lead resumed, with a final showdown seemingly set to take place after the final stops. It was during those late pit-stops that things went wrong for Dixon; the New Zealander collected one of Power's mechanics as he exited his stall, later receiving a drive-through penalty for his part in the incident. The decision split paddock opinion, with the Dixon camp alleging that Power's crew had moved into his pit space on purpose.
Amid the controversy, Power was free to romp home to his third Sonoma victory, while Wilson's differing strategy paid off as the Briton finished a well-deserved second. The top five was completed by Franchitti, Marco Andretti and Simon Pagenaud.
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished sixth after a decision to stay out during one of the numerous Safety Car periods failed to garner him any advantage, while current championship leader Castroneves took seventh. Hinchcliffe was forced to settle for a disappointing eighth after dropping off the pace following his earlier battles with Wilson, while de Silvestro and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top ten.
Castroneves' advantage over Dixon in the standings is now up to 39 points, the latter conducting a spirited late fight-back to finish in an ultimately fruitless 15th position.
The IndyCar field will be back in action on Baltimore's streets next weekend