Sonoma: Bash’s Friday thoughts

IndyCar commentary — By on August 26, 2011 8:00 pm

It was a typical trip to Infineon Raceway this morning: chilly in my town (San Francisco), with the Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in fog. But once I arrived at Sonoma, it was warm and the Star Mazda cars were starting their practice under a clear blue sky.

The first real news of the day broke on Twitter: Simona de Silvestro was sent back to Switzerland this morning after attempting to enter the United States. HVM Racing’s Monica Hilton shared a few details with me, including that Simona had flown into Washington Dulles and that her visa and documentation were all in order. There was a technical issue with customs, and the agent took a by-the-book stance on the situation and sent Simona back home. Simon Pagenaud has stepped in to drive the car as long as needed this weekend. Meanwhile, HVM Racing is doing all they can to get Simona back to the States in time to participate. Keep an eye on @HVMRacing for official updates, and I’ll share whatever I learn at @SpeedFreakBash.

Danica Patrick had her customary media availability today, but this time she addressed a larger-than-usual audience that asked her almost exclusively about her NASCAR plans. She said that she would miss people and some tracks on the INDYCAR circuit but that she really wants to drive stock cars and feels like the cars and the tracks in NASCAR are more suited to her driving style. She repeated again that if the money was the main focus, she would have jumped a couple of years ago.

The INDYCARs took the track just before 3 PM for a relatively uneventful practice. Alex Tagliani hit the tires in turn 3 early on, and James Hinchcliffe spun in turn 11 toward the end of the session and stalled the car, and these two incidents created the only two full-course yellows of the session. The top four were unsurprising: Franchitti, Power, Castroneves, and Dixon. But there in fifth was Giorgio Pantano, who’s filling in for the injured Justin Wilson in the #22 car at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. He was followed by Sebastien Bourdais and Ana Beatriz. Looking further down the list, Ho-Pin Tung was 17th, Martin Plowman was 20th, and Pagenaud was 25th. Simon had just had time to be fitted for Simona’s car this morning, so I imagine he’ll be a bit quicker in the next practice.

That’s about all the really interesting bits there were here today. Tomorrow’s schedule is quite a bit fuller and includes a Randy Bernard press conference, so expect a longer wrap-up from me tomorrow evening here at Thanks for reading!

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