Briscoe wins at Sonoma, Power widens points lead
Sonoma, CA (Sports Network) - Ryan Briscoe benefited from a late-race caution and then held off teammate and current points leader Will Power during two restarts in the closing laps to win Sunday's IZOD IndyCar Series race at Sonoma.
Power started on the pole and led a race-high 57 laps. Just after he pitted for the third and final time, the first caution came for an accident involving Sebastien Bourdais and rookie Josef Newgarden. Both drivers made contact, with Newgarden slamming hard into the tire barrier. There were no injuries.
Briscoe, who took over the lead when Power had pitted, made his stop during the caution and came out ahead of his Team Penske teammate.
"I didn't know where (Power) was, but I just knew that I had to keep pushing as hard as I could, even when the (caution flag) came out," Briscoe said.
Briscoe pulled away from Power on two restarts within the final 11 laps. He finished 0.44 seconds ahead of Power to claim his seventh career IndyCar win and his first since June 2010 at Texas.
"I've always done so well at this track, and I got my first-ever pole position here (in 2005), so it's great to finally get the win," Briscoe said. "Great battle with Will at the end there."
Power had a slight issue with the changing of his right-rear tire during his stop and then got caught up in traffic during the caution, allowing Briscoe to take advantage.
"It still is a good day, but I'm just disappointed to lead so many laps and not get the win," said Power, who started on the pole and won at Sonoma the past two years. "Ryan deserved to win. He's a bloody good driver, and he's one of the quickest guys in the series."
While Power ended up finishing second, the other top contenders for the series championship struggled on this 2.31-mile, 12-turn road course in Northern California.
Ryan Hunter-Reay fell from five points to 36 behind Power after finishing one lap down in 18th. Hunter-Reay spun around and stalled in a corner after he was hit from behind by Alex Tagliani following a restart with 11 laps to go. He was penalized for making avoidable contact with E.J. Viso shortly after.
"It's the usual Tagliani deal," a frustrated Hunter-Reay said. "He just got in there, locked up the brakes and got into the back of me. I can't tell you how frustrated I am after the engine problems last race (at Mid-Ohio) and then this. I can't get over it right now. It's unreal."
Helio Castroneves from Penske finished sixth and dropped to 41 points behind Power, while Scott Dixon, who won at Mid-Ohio, placed 13th here and fell 54 points out of the lead.
On the opening lap, Castroneves clipped Dixon and spun him around in turn seven. Castroneves was penalized for avoidable contact. Both drivers were not a factor in the 85-lap race after their incident.
Dario Franchitti finished third, followed by Rubens Barrichello and Graham Rahal. Simon Pagenaud clinched this year's IndyCar rookie-of-the-year honors with his seventh-place run. J.R. Hildebrand, Tagliani and Tony Kanaan completed the top-10.
Just two races remain -- Baltimore (Sept. 2) and Fontana, Calif. (Sept. 15).
08/26 20:38:10 ET