And we have reached the boiling point

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Written By Eric Hebert (Formula Thoughts Head Writer)

Well then, now that I have had some rest. A large coffee with 1 cream from Tim Horton's and 2 Pop Tarts, I think I am now ready to post about the 2013 Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Let me start of by saying that if you ever thought IndyCar was dull I urge you to watch a replay of this race. Although there were some clumsy moves and amateurish moments, it really was an exciting one. But moreover, it will go down as one of the most controversial races in recent memory.

Allow me to start off with qualifying. The session saw the return of Dario Franchitti at the front of the grid followed by his teammate Scott Dixon for Target Chip Ganassi. Third place belonged to Will Power of Penske Bellow are the results from

Going into the race it was clear that the Ganassi's were the ones to beat with all 3 cars occupying 3 spots in the top 6. It is also apparent that Penske is coming to grip with their qualifying woes with Will Power but how would he fair in the race? The sole Andretti Autosport driver in the top 5 was Ryan Hunter-Reay trying to defend his title. James Hinchcliffle was able to put the #27 GoDaddy machine in 9th. He is desperate for a good string of results after being being the first 3 time winner this year but has been struggling with finishing races thus losing many valuable points. Not to mention his contract is up at the end of this year. No word of if he stays put or goes elsewhere.

And what of our championship leader? Helio Castroneves has been so consistent and careful just trying to get points and keeping his points lead its easy to see that his main goal is to finish in the points every race. This will be very obvious in the race...

Okay, enough of the build lets crack on to the race as Aaron would say (my correspondent at check it out)

The race went off with a side by side rolling start. The green flag did not stay long as Charlie Kimball spun when he hit the #3 of Castroneves paired with Joseph Newgarden clipping his front wing with EJ Viso's car forcing the first of many full course cautions.  Kimball believed he had a drive shaft issue but ended up being a case of just resetting the car's on board computer. This forced last race's winner to go a lap down 2 laps into the race. Not a great start. It was reported during the full course caution that Helio couldn't get out of second gear. The problem did not last long as once they got rolling again he was fine. As for our Canuck in the field Hinch fell way back to 15th on the restart due to being on the black primary tire and everyone else being on the red option.  Lap 5 saw Dario take the lead from Dixon. 2 laps later the full course caution comes out for the second time due to EJ Viso doing what Viso does best= driving into Justin Wilson in a very stupid move on the inside at the haripin.. This resulted in Viso getting a Drive Through Penalty. On the restart a very impressive Simona De Silvestro passes 2 cars to get into the 13th postion for KV Racing. This is what I like about her, she is aggressive but smart in her moves. But just as quickly as that happens former 4 time ChampCar champion Sebastian Bourdais missed his braking point drove into De Silvestro's resulting in a Drive Through Penalty for Bourdais. By this time James Hinchcliffe is up to 2nd place due to having pitting earlier for reds. There was a very important pass made during the first round of pit stops when Will Power passed Dario Franchitti for position. Sit tight this is when things start getting heated. On the restart Pagenaud Andretti and Rahal are going three wide when Pagenaud hits Rahal into Andretti. Graham Rahal thought Marco hit him. Over the radio Rahal says "typical Marco" After the race he did apologize after seeing the replay since the blame was not Marco's. Thus we avoid another Rahal VS Andretti Twitter feud.

On lap 23 the caution comes out once again when JR Hildebrand spins. At this point I thought I was watching a street circuit race rather than a road circuit...

On the restart Hinch was tagged from behind by Savaadra forcing Hinch into a 50/50 grind on the curb making one Tony Hawk very proud I'm sure! Savaadra received a Drive through penalty for his part of this X-Games exhibit. Tony Kanaan also served a drive through penalty for cause an avoidable accident. We eventually get back to green flag racing, Dixon to the lead with an intense battle between the 9 of Dixon and the 12 of Power. Could this be the start of an amazing finish? Could this be the day Power ends his winless streak?

When the 9 and 12 pit at the same time on lap 45 Dixon made the better stop retaining his lead over Power. While this was happening a very nice battle between Kanaan and Hinchliffe was going on. This is why I love Indycar. To see the 11 and 27 drive to the limit knowing that anything can happen despite it not being the real race for the lead was just awesome. Hinch pits on lap 53 falling back to 8th. This was okay, because now he was on the same sequence as the leaders as far as pit strategy till the end. There was shot for James Hinchcliffe to finish in the top 5 as he was now on the red option tire lapping faster than those infront. He picked off Pagenaud and Castroneves. Helio was driving very cautiously due to the fact that he just wants points to extend his lead over Dixon in the championship therefore he was not going to battle Hinchcliffe for nothing essentially. After Helio , Hinch passed his teammate Marco for 4th. But throughout this whole time, Justin Wilson driving for Dale Coyne was at the front fighting for the win up against Dixon and Power despite having that spin! Impressive drive by him!

So now we get into the juicy blood pressure raising moments of the race. On yet another full course caution, Scott Dixon and Will Power both pit at the same time. Dixon's pit box is directly behind Power's pit. This is crucial for what I am about to explain and describe. Dixon had a much quicker stop than Power, as Dixon is leaving his pit he clips the right rear tire changer of Will Power as he walking behind the car carrying the tire on his left side facing Dixon. When Dixon left his sidepod hit the tire the crew member was holding forcing him to go flying into another crew member in violent fashion. The guys were okay but what had happened? Was there a dirty trick by Penske going on? or did Dixon not turn enough out of the way to avoid him?

NBC Sports commentators said what everyone was thinking: Yes. The crew member was walking carelessly into the path of Dixon's car. I, along with everyone else thought the same. If you followed me on Twitter during the race, you saw how outraged I was along with everyone else. The big question was: who gets a penalty if any? The world watching thought no fault of Dixon which is why it was a total shock and surprise when Race Director Beaux Barfieled handed the #9 Target Chip Ganassi car of Scott Dixon a Drive through Penalty for unsafe release. I was dumbfounded along with NBC and the world. This ruined Dixon's chance of winning the race and taking the lead in the championship. Dixon fell back to 20th but made a push back up to 15th. The win was now handed nicely to Will Power. Interestingly enough once Dixon was out of contention Helio started pushing much harder to take advantage of the situation to gain even more points.

Once the race was finished an elated Will Power climbed out of his car and kissed the #12 out of pure happiness to finally winning a race in 2013. But how did Dixon feel? First the results from

So what did Scott Dixon think of the penalty? Scott said he felt the crew member had deliberately walked towards him calling it a "D*ck move". His team manager Mike Hull started off by saying he was glad the crew members were fine. He was extremely professional in the way he handled his emotions by stating what he had seen , disagreed with the call but accepted it. He truly was just happy the crew members were okay. 

On the other side, Tim Cindric seemed a little evasive when asked if it was a deliberate action. He stated he did not know that would have to ask the crew member. 
Now, when Beaux Barfield was interviewed he clearly stated the reason for the penalty was because the 9 car was not in his pit stall and was too close to the 12. This was confusing to the viewers as the lines were clearly marked. Apparently those lines were for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. the fact that the 9 car was ahead of the Target marked fuel rig it was it was clear to him that the crew member was well within his working area...thus the penalty was a no brainer. This I feel will be a debate which will last for years.

Well this concludes my recap of the race. My thoughts? visit FormulaThoughts Podcast to listen Aaron Cooper and I discuss our thoughts about the race and the "incident".
 (all photos are from, the one stop for all the race news and action you need)
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