"Excellent for Ryan - his first win, and he's a bloody good driver," said Will Power of his team mate. "He's a had a tough time, but he's definitely one of the fastest drivers in the series."
That's not to say he wasn't disappointed at losing out on the win himself, however. "It's tough when you lead so many laps and have the quickest car," he said. "Just disappointed to lead so many laps and I haven't won in so long."
He explained that the race slipped way form him in the crucial moments during the caution: "I had a bunch guys that didn't understand that we had to get to the blend line. Although there was a big crash. I was surprised the pits stayed open. I can't win. If I go long on yellow, I get screwed by a yellow and if you go short, you get screwed by yellow.
"The delay on the push-to-pass cost me, too," he added. "I couldn't engage it. It kept undoing every time I got on the power."
The race had certainly been wildly more entertaining than last year's version - not that this was too difficult. Whether it was the new-specification cars and engines in 2012, or the tweaks to the course, the race length or the push-to-pass system it was hard to tell. However, the underlying problems of open wheel racing at Sonoma remained: once drivers got stuck behind a slower moving car, there remained precious little that they could do about it. Especially during the lengthy caution-free period in the first 63 laps of the race, that spread out the cars and seemed destined to cause the race to end in a dull procession with Power at its head. Only that late crash between Bourdais and Newgarden changed the script.
But such planning for the future are thoughts for another day. In the Californian afternoon sunshine, the Penske squad were celebrating another win, and were joined by Chevrolet who were celebrating their clinching of the 2012 manufacturers' championship over Honda and Lotus with two races remaining in the season. Dario Franchitti was also happy to gain a solid podium position after a frustrating spell, and Rubens Barrichello was also celebrating his best performance so far in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Maybe it' a breakthrough result that will convince him to stay put at KV Racing in 2013 after all.
"We seem to get caught behind guys, we just didn't have enough to get by them, but we were definitely quicker," said Franchitti of his fairly quiet run, in the top five for pretty much the entire day. "Lost a place each pit stop and then just had to sit behind guys, and that was kind of frustrating. It's nobody's fault but our own really. In the end, I was lucky to stay out of trouble."
As for Rubens, he was quick to praise his team for the day's success. "It's really good to have some good points. You know the season started a little bit slow so, thanks to the whole team and thanks for all the support," he said. "Today was a good day. The track really worked well. I was able to put some really good laps in."
Full race results