Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Briscoe breaks IndyCar drought in wine country

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SONOMA, Calif. -- Ryan Briscoe hadn't celebrated an IndyCar victory in two years, so it's no wonder he stalled his car during his post-race burnout.

Will Power and Chevrolet also are leaving wine country with reasons to celebrate -- hopefully with a bit more style.

Briscoe got past teammate Power out of a pit stop Sunday and held off the two-time defending Sonoma champion for his seventh career victory, capping a masterful weekend for Chevrolet and Penske Racing.

"We always get excited when we come to this race," Briscoe said. "For whatever reason, Team Penske cars are always strong. Will and I kind of dominated all weekend."

Although Briscoe got the traditional goblet of wine, he wasn't the only big winner. Chevrolet clinched the manufacturers' championship in the first season of its return to IndyCar with six of its cars in the top 10 -- including another dominant performance by the Penske team, which took three of the top six spots.

"To see them win the manufacturers' championship in their first year is very rewarding," owner Roger Penske said. "To come from Detroit and have Chevrolet in the race with the engines has been terrific, and certainly the reliability has been excellent."

And even with his frustrating second-place finish, Power took command of the overall championship race when his three closest competitors all had problems. Power began the weekend leading by five points, and increased that to 36 over Ryan Hunter-Reay 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."

Briscoe figured he was long overdue for a blemish-free afternoon, and he got it after starting next to pole-sitter Power. Briscoe has never finished outside the top four at Sonoma, and the hazards that have slowed him on other courses in recent months all seemed to befall his competitors this time.

"The last year was the first year that I hadn't won a race in a while," Briscoe said about 2011. "You've just got to keep plugging away, keep pushing hard. We've been fast, there's no doubt -- several poles this year and front-row starts -- but we had trouble executing, and today we executed flawlessly, thanks to the guys in the pits. There was absolutely no trouble at all. It was a straight, free race."

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 27, 2012 C5

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