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Race Report: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. – The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season ended Sunday with Josef Newgarden winning the championship in his first year driving for Team Penske, and his teammate, the defending series champion Simon Pagenaud, claiming the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Driving the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet, Conor Daly finished 10th after starting 13th in the 85–lap race around the 2.52 mile road course in California’s wine country. When the race started, a skirmish at the front almost took out Daly as he banged wheels with a charging Tony Kanaan. Daly then squeezed into 11th place.

As the first round of pit stops began, Daly advanced through the field to take the lead on lap 18. It was the first time an ABC Supply car led this season—if only for three laps—before pitting on lap 21. Another skirmish later in the race, this time between Daly and JR. Hildebrand, forced Daly off the track. After bouncing through the infield dirt, he got back on track and appeared none the worse for the excursion. The rest of the race was incident free.

Daly congratulates good friend Newgarden on his first IndyCar championship.

“I have to thank the boys for keeping faith in the [fuel] strategy,” Daly said. “It was a bold move to make the three-stop call. We were able to make the numbers but we got stuck behind [Jack] Harvey [who was a lap down], in the third part of that stint which was really frustrating. I think it impeded us from doing a little bit better. In the end, another top-10 which is really positive from where we started this weekend. It was a good consistent race. It was tough – there were a lot of moments when we were flying through the air and banging wheels with people. It was wild, so I’m just happy to come back in one piece and have another consistent finish to end the year. I’m happy to finally finish a double points race, I’ve never done that, so that was nice.”

Carlos Munoz, who started 22nd in the race, made a good start and was running 16th when he pitted for tires and fuel on lap 19. A problem on the first stop cost Munoz a few extra seconds. There were no full course cautions in the race which made it difficult to gain track position. When the checkered flag waved, he was in 15th place.

“It was a quite boring race, saving fuel the whole time,” Munoz said. “The first pit stop we had a problem and we lost some time there. It maybe cost us three positions. We had quite a good pace compared to the others. It’s been a tough season but I think in the end we finished pretty good. We had some ups and downs. Thank you to all the team and ABC Supply for the season and we’ll see what happens.”

Finishing third through fifth in the race were Will Power, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves. This race marked the fifth straight time that an ABC Supply Chevrolet finished in the top 10.

“I’m very proud of the ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing team,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “We knew we were going to have a very big challenge this season but everyone kept working and giving 110 percent. No one gave up. I think that showed in the results late in the season and the string of top 10s to close out the year. We have some decisions to make but we’re very excited about our winter program, and we think with a great winter program, we can come out in 2018 ready to battle at the front.”

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