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06/11 2017

Will Power endures to win crash-filled IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway RACE ENDS UNDER CAUTION AFTER TAKUMA SATO AND SCOTT DIXON CRASH by AUTOWEEK

Will Power survived a brutal night at Texas Motor Speedway to win Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race that included blistered tires, crashed race cars, a red flag and some red-hot tempers.
The race was about to produce an incredible finish before Takuma Sato dropped a wheel into the tri-oval grass that sent the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 shooting up the track into Scott Dixon’s Honda with six laps to go. That triggered another big crash that involved Sato, Dixon and Conor Daly.

The yellow flag waved and the race finished under caution with just seven cars running on the lead lap and nine cars running at the finish.

Power led Tony Kanaan to the yellow and checkered flags. Simon Pagenaud was third, followed by last year’s winner Graham Rahal and Gaby Chaves.

It was Power’s 31st career victory, and that ties him with Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti on the all-time career list.
“It was very intense,” Power said.  “I could see (Scott) Dixon was able to pass me at the start/finish line. So, I was starting to think about what I was going to do there at the end. I’m so stoked to win in my second home, where my wife (Liz) is from, Texas.  All the family is here, it just feels awesome.”
Before Saturday night’s race, many of the drivers in the IndyCar Series were concerned the newly-repaved track surface at Texas Motor Speedway was going to produce a “single-file race.”

They couldn’t have been further off.
Instead, it was a return to pack racing that had borderline dangerous implications as three-wide racing produced several big crashes. The high grip level on the newly repaved and re-profiled 1.44-mile oval caused the Firestone tires to blister, shedding large chunks of rubber, and IndyCar officials to make the unusual decision to break the final 90 laps of the race into three 30-lap segments in the interest of safety.It was a wild race even before it turned too wild with 100 laps to go.
 
That’s when “The Big One” happened — a huge crash by any racing standards. The crash on lap 153 took out some of the big names in the race, including J.R. Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter, Mikhail Aleshin, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Carlos Muñoz, Ed Jones and Tristan Vautier.
The crash was triggered when Kanaan was on the inside and Hinchcliffe in the middle with Mikhail Aleshin on the outside. Hinchcliffe’s car got squeezed, slammed into the third turn wall and major carnage ensued.

The carnage caused a red flag stoppage for 30 minutes, 40 seconds.
 
Team owner Dale Coyne was so upset with Kanaan that the team owner got in Kanaan’s face while the driver was sitting on pit lane during the red flag.

Coyne believed Kanaan was the cause of the crash.

When Hinchcliffe was checked and released from the infield care center, he was asked who caused the crash.
“Tony,” Hinchcliffe said, referring to Kanaan. “It’s a shame. He’s too good of a driver. He knows better. He drove me straight into Mikhail. We were three-wide. It’s a shame.

“When you’re the guy in the middle, it’s tough. I had a good run on Tony, Mikhail had a good run on me. We were three wide; it happens here in Texas. Tony went from all the way on the white line, driver’s left, and just drove right into a left-hand corner and drove me straight into Mikhail. Either his spotter didn’t tell him it was three wide or he just didn’t care. It’s tough.

“Tony’s one of the best guys in this type of racing, he’s a guy I went wheel-to-wheel with happily for the last 10 laps for the shootout and the win here last year. Normally he’s a guy I trust my life with in this kind of racing, but today he just wasn’t driving very smart and wasn’t driving very respectfully, and took out half the field. It’s unfortunate it’s come back to kind of a pack race.

“I’m gutted for the Arrow Electronics guys, everybody at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. We had two good cars that went out. We went from the back to the front to the back to the front, and we had a good shot at the win here tonight.

“This is too much of a pack race. It’s a shame that a driver that good would do that. He wasn’t driving very smart and wasn’t driving very respectfully. We had a good shot at the win here tonight. There is so much grip on the trace track now that it has gone back to the old style of racing.

“It’s exciting to watch and exciting to be in until something happens.”

Because of the tire issues, IndyCar officials instituted three “competition cautions” that would stop the race three more times over the final 90 laps in 30-lap increments.
The green flag waved with 90 laps to go. Kanaan was immediately assessed a 20-second “stop and hold” penalty by IndyCar Race Control for “avoidable contact” and “blocking.” Kanaan, who was in contention for the victory, lost two laps by serving that penalty.

Will Power

The race ended under caution after the Sato-Dixon crash.PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

Josef Newgarden pitted one lap before the first competition yellow because of blistering tires. The yellow came out on Lap 190. It also gave Newgarden a competitive advantage because the rest of the field had yet to pit.
 
IndyCar officials informed Newgarden’s Team Penske crew that he had to return to the pits to take service because it was a “mandatory pit stop.”

With 52 laps to go, Scott Dixon led the field to the green flag but was quickly passed by Power on the first lap.
Newgarden tried to go three-wide on Lap 201 and slammed the outside wall coming out of Turn 4.

“Bad decision,” Newgarden said. “Going third lane was not the right idea. I was trying to get some space with Dixon. It was my fault. I feel bad for the guys on the No. 2 car. It’s a shame when you make a mistake like that.

“There were a lot of ups and downs to the race.”

The race restarted on Lap 209 with Power leading Pagenaud and Dixon.

On Lap 216, Rahal picked off two cars by driving around the outside to get up to fifth place.
Sato drove to the outside of Power on Lap 224 but Power held the position just before the final competition yellow flag waved.

Power won the race off pit road followed by Dixon, Sato and Pagenaud. Rahal stalled the car leaving the pits and he lost the positions he had made up during his mad dash. Kanaan had also made his way back to the lead lap.

That set up the dramatic battle to the finish with 19 laps left. A battle that ended under yellow with Power celebrating.

Will Power

Power’s win is the ninth at Texas Motor Speedway for Team Penske. It’s also his second win this season and second at Texas Motor Speedway.PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

Verizon IndyCar Series Rainguard Water Sealers 600 results

1. (9) Will Power, Chevrolet, 248, Running

2. (4) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 248, Running
3. (12) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 248, Running

4. (11) Graham Rahal, Honda, 248, Running
5. (20) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 248, Running

6. (15) Marco Andretti, Honda, 248, Running
7. (21) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 247, Running

8. (6) Max Chilton, Honda, 245, Running
9. (2) Scott Dixon, Honda, 243, Contact

10. (8) Takuma Sato, Honda, 243, Contact
11. (14) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 224, Contact

12. (18) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 215, Running

13. (17) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 201, Contact

14. (16) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 151, Contact

15. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 151, Contact
16. (5) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 151, Contact

17. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 151, Contact
18. (22) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 151, Contact

19. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 151, Contact

20. (10) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 90, Contact

21. (1) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 41, Mechanical

22. (3) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 36, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 140.491 mph
Time of Race: 2:32:31.0118
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 9 for 66 laps
Lead changes: 23 among 7 drivers