Saturday, August 21, 2010

Franchitti Leads Day 1 Practice at IZOD IndyCar Sonoma Weekend

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

The IZOD IndyCar Series' California dreaming has turned to reality as 25 top-level open wheel drivers make their way into Sonoma, a town within an area designated as wine country in the United States. Running a 2.305 mile permanent road course inside Infineon Raceway, Indy cars ready for a 75 lap main event on Sunday with a Friday practice.

Defending pole and Grand Prix of Sonoma winner Dario Franchitti showed immediately that he continues to hold the knowledge for getting around Infineon Raceway quickest. Weaving his #10 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing car through the complex California track in 1 minute, 18.2970 seconds, Franchitti top time comes with a stark realization that the rest of the field knows the Scotsman is the benchmark. A little more than 4/100th of a second slower in his fastest time, Penske Racing's #12 car steered by Will Power was 2nd on the time chart. Remembering one year ago, Will Power suffered a horrific practice crash which caused him not only to miss the 2009 Infineon Raceway event but the remaining races Penske Racing had planned last season. Returning to Sonoma as a strong driver in the 2010 series, Power is focused on having the Infineon Raceway compensate him with a big points day.

At the beginning of the season, the well-positioned start for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing had some IZOD IndyCar Series observers bracing to see teams other than the traditional superteams. While Andretti Autosport reunited themselves with victory lane twice in 2010, there has not been a regular presense of teams in outside the superteam's circle. However, in the past IZOD IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio, the FAZZT Race Team were able to work in launching their driver Alex Tagliani up to the front for a sizable portion of the event. Delivering a 4th place finish in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Tagliani's race weekend starts with a 3rd fastest time in practice on Infineon. Speaking of Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, Justin Wilson's #22 car was 45th in the practice session one spot behind Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon. Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Ryan Briscoe, Dan Wheldon and Hideki Mutoh rounded out the top 10 for the Friday practice for the Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

With this being the last road course remaining on the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway is a finale of sorts for the competitors of the American open wheel racing series. In fact, thanks to the Indy Racing League sanctioning body's decision recognize the top point leader on oval and road racing. Will Power has already earned the road racing title bestoving the Mario Andretti Trophy on the Australian's masterful drive through the twists of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. Still in play and remaining highly valuable to Power and the Penske Racing team, the overall points championship is a contentious battle separated by 41 points after Mid-Ohio.

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