The 2014 IndyCar series opened March, 30 at St. Petersburg and ended at Auto Club Speedway on October, 30. The Championship had a good mix of ovals, temporary street circuits and road courses. There were eighteen races – three of which were double-headers (Detroit, Houston and Toronto).

The series continued to use the Dallara DW12 which was introduced in 2012 to replace the Dallara IR5. The philosophy behind a spec car was to control costs ($349,000/chassis). The DW12 also incorporated many new safety features – most obvious was the bodywork surrounding the rear tires. The DW designation was in honour of the late Dan Wheldon, who had performed much of the testing on the new car.

There were two manufacturers providing engines for the season – Chevrolet (Chevy IndyCar V6) and Honda (Honda HI14TT Indy-V6). The 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engines produced approximately the same horsepower – 550-700-hp depending on the turbo boost. The engine lease contracts ended prior to the 2014 season and as a result, some teams switched manufacturers.

As usual, drivers played the game of ‘musical chairs’ but the biggest news was the return of Juan Pablo Montoya to open wheel racing. After a thirteen-year absence, Montoya joined Team Penske.

Sonoma was the second last race of the season and six drivers still had a mathematical chance of winning the Drivers’ title. The results from this event would shorten the list of potential candidates vying for the championship at the finale in Fontana, California.

Race morning, the area suffered a 6.1-magnitude earthquake. But the 2.385-mile, 12-turn race facility was not damaged and the event took place as scheduled.

By the penultimate round, Scott Dixon was sixth in the points chase and his chances of earning the 2014 driving title were slim. Dixon started third, driving for Target Chip Ganassi but passed race leader Mike Conway on lap-83 of 85 for the victory. Conway was trying to conserve fuel but ran out just 350-yards from the finish line.
Finishing just 1.1359-seconds behind Scott Dixon was Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay qualified tenth but benefited from Mike Conway’s fuel dilemma. The runner-up position left the 2012 series champion with an outside chance of winning his second Drivers’ title.
With two races left in the 2014 season, Simon Paugneud was third in the standings. At Sonoma, Paugneud started from fifteenth on the grid. The driver of the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Dallara improved twelve positions during the race and earned the final spot on the podium. This result left him with a chance of winning the championship.
Takuma Sato started twentieth in the A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara DW12/Honda. After the morning warm-up, the team decided to change the engine and completed the task just in time for the start. On the first lap, Sato’s car sustained damage in a turn-one melee and required new tires but he made good progress during the race and finished a season high fourth.
Ryan Briscoe joined Chip Ganassi Racing for a full season in 2014. His best result to date was a fourth at Pocono. At Sonoma, Briscoe started from the fifth position but in the first-corner of the first lap, he was involved in a crash that included three other drivers. He was able to continue but was seventeenth at the checkered flag.
2014 marked Juan Pablo Montoya’s first full season back in open wheel competition after eight-years of competing in NASCAR. At Sonoma, Montoya started nineteenth in a field of twenty-two entrants. During the race, he moved up the order and led laps sixty-one to sixty-three. At the finish, Montoya was classified fifth.
Entering Sonoma, Helio Castroneves trailed championship leader and teammate, Will Power, by thirty-nine points. After the final qualifying, Castroneves found himself gridded six. In the first corner of the first lap, he was part of a chain reaction crash that included three other drivers. Castroneves was not able to overcome this set back and finished eighteenth.
It appears that Sebastian Saavedra is about to take off after clipping the apex at turn-nine. Saavedra competing in his second full season of the IndyCar series qualified in the twenty-second position. Earlier in the season, he started first at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The KV/AFS driver was in sixteenth place at the checkered flag.
In qualifying at Sonoma, Joseph Newgarden and the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team found the right setup. Newgarden was the quickest in the first two rounds of qualifying and finished second in the Firestone Fast 6. This was the second time in 2014 that he started on the front – the first was Mid-Ohio. During the race, he led two laps and finished sixth.
Points leader, Will Power driving for Team Penske qualified on the pole. This was the fourth time in four years that Power was the fastest qualifier. He led the first thirty-three laps but spun on lap-40 which dropped him to twentieth. Power would be tenth at the checkered flag but more importantly, he increased his points lead by fifty-one over Helio Castroneves.
James Hinchcliffe, driving for Andretti Autosport in a Honda powered Dallara DW12 had a solid qualifying effort and started fourth. Unfortunately, Hinchcliffe was one of the four drivers involved in the first lap crash in corner-one. From there his race went downhill and although Hinchcliffe remained on the lead lap, he finished twelfth.
Another driver involved in the first corner incident on lap-1 was Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais was gridded seventh after the final qualifying session. The damage he incurred on the opening lap added to his total number of pit-stops – he visited the pits five times whereas most competitors made three-stops. He was in eleventh place at the checkered flag.

13Scott DixonDallara DW12 / ChevroletChip Ganassi85-
210Ryan Hunter-ReayDallara DW12 / HondaAndretti Autosport85-
315Simon PagenaudDallara DW12 / HondaSchmidt Peterson Hamilton85-
420Takuma SatoDallara DW12 / HondaA.J. Foyt85-
519Juan Pablo MontoyaDallara DW12 / ChevroletRoger Penske85-
62Josef NewgardenDallara DW12 / HondaSarah Fisher Hartman Racing85-
712Mikhail AleshinDallara DW12 / HondaSchmidt Peterson Motorsports85-
813Marco AndrettiDallara DW12 / HondaAndretti Autosport85-
916Justin WilsonDallara DW12 / HondaDale Coyne85-
101Will PowerDallara DW12 / ChevroletRoger Penske85-
117Sebastien BourdaisDallara DW12 / ChevroletKVSH Racing85-
124James HinchcliffeDallara DW12 / HondaAndretti Autosport85-
138Tony KanaanDallara DW12 / ChevroletChip Ganassi85-
1417Mike ConwayDallara DW12 / ChevroletEd Carpenter85-
1518Jack HawksworthDallara DW12 / HondaBHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian85-
1622Sebastian SaavedraDallara DW12 / ChevroletKVAFS Racing85-
175Ryan BriscoeDallara DW12 / ChevroletChip Ganassi85-
186Helio CastronevesDallara DW12 / ChevroletRoger Penske85-
199Carlos MunozDallara DW12 / HondaAndretti-HVM85-
2012Graham RahalDallara DW12 / HondaRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing85-
2111Charlie KimballDallara DW12 / ChevroletChip Ganassi84-
2221Carlos HuertasDallara DW12 / HondaDale Coyne28Engine

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