Briscoe holds off teammate Power to win in Sonoma
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) - Ryan Briscoe got past Penske teammate Will Power out of a pit stop Sunday and held off the two-time defending Sonoma champion for his first IndyCar victory since 2010.
After Power led for most of the race, Briscoe slipped into position for his seventh career victory when Power got caught in traffic following a scary crash for Sebastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden.
Both drivers apparently avoided serious injury when Bourdais lost control on cold tires and slammed Newgarden into a protective barrier. Newgarden injured his left index finger.
Power also lost a few seconds of his lead on a slow pit stop before the crash, but said he blamed the loss on getting held up by drivers who were "dawdling around because they were a lap down or whatever.''
He barely failed to win his third straight race in Sonoma after starting from the pole at the track where he broke his back in 2009, yet Power also left Sonoma in command of the championship race. His second-place finish boosted his overall points lead to 36 points after his three closest competitors all had problems.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was left fuming after Alex Tagliani spun him out with 10 laps to go, and he finished 18th. Helio Castroneves was penalized after making contact with Scott Dixon on the opening lap and never got back in the hunt, eventually finishing sixth, while Dixon came in 13th after making contact with Hunter-Reay.
Penske still put its three racers in the top six after Power, Briscoe and Castroneves swept the podium in Sonoma last year.
Briscoe stalled his car during the celebratory burnout, but otherwise enjoyed a splendid afternoon after starting second. Briscoe has never finished outside the top four at Sonoma.
Three-time defending champion Dario Franchitti finished third, and Rubens Barrichello finished a career-best fourth. Graham Rahal was fifth.
Power clinched the Mario Andretti Road Trophy with another strong performance, and he moved into prime position to win the overall title despite the loss in his 100th career IndyCar start. Just 29 points separated the top four drivers heading into Sonoma, but Power has a cushion heading to Baltimore next weekend.
"It's tough when you lead so many laps and have the quickest car,'' Power said. "I love to win, but we still got the points and made the most out of the situation that it was. I can't help but be disappointed, but full congratulations to Ryan.''
IndyCar had a contact-filled afternoon after two straight races run under all green flags. The circuit had gone 226 consecutive laps without a caution until the crash.
Bourdais accepted responsibility for the crash, saying he couldn't turn his car and picking up debris on his tires at Turn 7, which was modified this year into a difficult hairpin. Bourdais eventually drove through the dirt and slid into Newgarden, who hit a barrier head-on and injured his finger, which will be re-evaluated back in Indianapolis.
"It was a pretty bad hit,'' Bourdais said. "I don't know for sure what happened. The car refused to turn. Everything was working out great.''
Hunter-Reay had an animated discussion with Tagliani, who was penalized for avoidable contact that left Hunter-Reay stalled on the track.