As the IZOD IndyCar® Series readies to roll into Sonoma Raceway for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma rumors are flying over whether local favorite (Sausalito) J.R. Hildebrand will secure a ride with a new team. Following his release from Panther Racing, (National Guard sponsored) Hildebrand has been picking up a few independent rides here and there in other racing series. He was recently seen in Seattle, WA. competing in Formula D, a drifting competition. It was recently reported that the racer who nearly won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 may secure a ride for the Sonoma race with Barracuda Racing to drive the number 98, Bryan Herta Autosport entry.
Sonoma, one of three permanent road racing circuits on the IndyCar schedule has always provided fans an exciting weekend of racing. This year with nine different winners in 14 races assures this year will be no different. Past winners at Sonoma include championship points leader Helio Castroneves, 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, two time Sonoma winner Will Power and last year Sonoma winner Ryan Brisco.
Another fan favorite is California native, Charlie Kimball who made his first trip to the winner’s podium last week at the Mid-Ohio road course, breaking a long dry streak. Kimball has garnered a large fan base following his announcement that he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Temporarily forced to hang up his racing gloves Kimball returned to become a high profile example of living with diabetes.
Sonoma will also see the continued and hotly contested race for the championship as point leader Helio Castroneves continues to hold off contenders. With Scott Dixon just 31 points behind, Castroneves must be at the top of his game to continue his domination for the series championship. It seems he has the numbers to indicate he can pull it off. With 1843 laps completed, Castroneves is the only driver to complete every lap of every race so far this year.
The racetrack, formally known as Sears Point, Sonoma Raceway has become a formidable venue for all racing series. With IndyCar it has gone through some changes to make more passing zones which in-turn has heightened the fan experience. The 12-turn, 2.38-mile road course has become known for exciting wheel-to-wheel racing. With its combination of wide sweeping and tight turns along with many elevation changes Sonoma Raceway offers up some of the most thrilling auto racing available.
IndyCar has become one of the most competitive racing series with nine individual winners in the previous 14 races, four of the nine are first time IndyCar Series race winners. It is this competitiveness that has given rise to the popularity of the IndyCar Series.
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma is a weekend long event August 23 through 25 with practice and qualifying running Friday and Saturday with the race on Sunday. Fans will also be treated to a full tree days of racing with the Maserati Trofeo World Series, Formula Car Challenge and SCCA World
Challenge Series races through the weekend.
Sonoma Raceway is located at the junctions of Highway 37 and Highway 121 east of Novato. Tickets are available by calling 800-870-RACE (7223), going on line at; racesonoma.com/indycar or ticketmaster.com