By Doug Halberstadt
About a week or so ago, former Roscoe resident Danica Patrick announced she plans on running full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2012. In addition to that commitment, she’s also stated she’ll continue to run a limited number of races in the IndyCar Series.
One of the Indy races already on her schedule for next year is the Indianapolis 500. I’m not certain whether she’s publicly stated any of the other races in that series she intends to grace with her presence. I’m sure that will be determined at a later date and hinge upon her and the car’s owners’ desires.
I’d like to try to influence their decision. I sincerely hope they’ll put the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on her 2012 schedule. It is one of my favorite IndyCar races to watch. It goes way beyond any of the traditional turn-left-only ovals. The course at Infineon Raceway is one of the most challenging tracks, not only to the IndyCar Series drivers, but also to the NASCAR drivers who race there.
The natural-terrain course has it all to challenge drivers. The serpentine circuit features elevation changes, a tight right-hand turn 12 leading onto the front stretch, a carousel turn that requires downshifting — and it’s all packed into a scenic California setting. The elevation changes are one of the things that truly make Infineon a unique racing venue. The road course features more than 160 feet of elevation change from its highest to lowest points.
This Sunday (Aug. 28), the IndyCar Series will return to Infineon for their seventh event at the track. This year’s race will be televised locally beginning at 3 p.m. on Versus.
Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Patrick and Dan Wheldon are the only drivers who have competed in all six prior IndyCar events at Sonoma. Last year, Will Power won the 75-lap race.
The best Patrick has ever finished in the Grand Prix of Sonoma was in 2008. She started ninth and wound up finishing fifth. Last year, she had a disappointing 16th-place finish.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Aug. 24-30, 2011, issue