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“Most everybody in the field feels Penske has got it all figured out,” Bourdais said. “They’ve been dominating all weekend here. I don’t know what it’s going to take.”

The Sonoma track modifications are another variable, with the drivers working to figure out the best way to take advantage of the three changes they suggested, including a hairpin turn that creates more opportunities for passing in what had evolved into a gas-mileage race in the past few years.

The changes are getting positive reviews _ but they’re also puzzles to be solved.

“Indy cars are not really designed for first-gear, 30-mile-an-hour hairpins, and it makes it very easy to make a mistake,” Hinchcliffe said. “I think that’s actually going to create as many passing opportunities as a big brake zone is, just guys maybe getting it a bit wrong into Turn 11 and getting into a little drag race up to Turn 1.”

Power had it all figured out during qualifying, but he doesn’t think his acumen in Sonoma was a product of his crash. He broke his back again last October in Las Vegas in the crash that killed Dan Wheldon.

Three years after getting airlifted out of wine country, Power acknowledges a little apprehension.

“Every time I go over that bloody (Turn) 3A, I still don’t think the lines are good enough there,” Power said. “I mean, man, when you go over the crest (and) there’s someone sitting there, you’re going to hit them hard. And I did.”