Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud drove to a dominant win in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, winning his first ever Verizon IndyCar Series Championship in the process. Will Power, who had a shot at taking the championship this weekend, turned up 20th overall to take second in the championship.
Pagenaud secured pole for Sunday’s race and save for pit stops, never once gave up the top position, leading 76 of 85 laps in his No. 22 Chevrolet. The result marked the 14th ever IndyCar championship for Team Penske in 50 years of operation and was also the 10th win by a Penske driver in 16 races this season.
“It’s unbelievable. I think I will realize it more tomorrow,” Pagenaud told IndyCar.com post-race. “What a race!
There is so much emotion right now, to be honest,” the Frenchman added. “I can’t find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level.”
Power started fourth Sunday but had worked his way up to second after the first pit stop cycle and was trailing Pagenaud. A clutch issue then on Lap 36 then forced Power to stop on track, bringing out a full course yellow. He finished the season 127 points behind Pagenaud.
Second at Sonoma was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal, who crossed the finish line 3.2 seconds behind Pagenaud. Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya made for the final podium position, while Ryan Hunter-Reay and Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five.
The Verizon IndyCar Series will contest a total of 17 races next season with all the same tracks as this year but with the addition of Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis. Click here for full results from Sonoma.