Simon Pagenaud won the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series title in style as he clinched his fifth victory of the season at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday.
The Team Penske driver led all but nine laps of the race to clinch his first IndyCar championship, whilst main rival Will Power saw his chance of taking the crown disappear on lap 36 when he suffered a gearbox issue.
Pagenaud had started from pole position and dominated the largely trouble free race at Sonoma, with only one caution period throughout the 85-lap race, which was to bring Power back into the pits when he got stranded due to his gearbox issues.
With Power out of contention for the victory, Pagenaud was joined on the podium by Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Penske team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, while Ryan Hunter-Reay took fourth for Andretti Autosport after a last lap pass on Alexander Rossi, who ran out of fuel on the final lap to drop to fifth.
Rossi’s fifth place however was enough to give him rookie of the year honours, which adds to his victory in the Indianapolis 500 in May, a great result for the Andretti Herta Autosport driver.
Josef Newgarden finished sixth for Ed Carpenter Racing but just missed out on third place in the championship by two points to Helio Castroneves, who finished right on his tail in seventh. Castroneves’ third place means Penske locked out the top three places in the championship standings.
Marco Andretti had one of his better performances of the season to finish eighth for Andretti Autosport, while Charlie Kimball and Sebastien Bourdais completed the top ten.
The only other incident of note came on the opening lap when Tony Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin tangled at turn seven. Although the former stalled, he was able to be restarted by the Holmatro Safety Crew without the safety car needing to be deployed.
Ultimately the damage had been done earlier in the season, with Pagenaud’s Sonoma win adding to those taken at Long Beach, Barber, the Indianapolis road course and Mid-Ohio, and although none of his victories came on an oval, Pagenaud is most definitely a worthy champion at the end of an exciting year of IndyCar racing.
Sonoma Raceway Race Result
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