The streak is over.
Will Power entered today’s race in Sonoma having not won a race in 484 days. Thanks to a controversial call from race control in the final laps, Power got his first win of the season. It was a huge call for Team Penske, as Helio Castroneves was also able to stretch his lead in the championship.
Justin Wilson and Dario Franchitti joined Power on the podium. Marco Andretti and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five finishers. Power certainly knows his way around Sonoma, having won 3 of the last 4 races here. The only one he didn’t win, he finished in 2nd place.
It was a busy day for race control, as there were 5 full-course cautions in the first 29 laps. It was the call at the end of the race though, that will be talked about for the rest of the year.
The race essentially came down to the final pit stop between Scott Dixon and Power. Dixon beat him out of the pits, but the right-rear tire carrier on Power’s car wasn’t paying attention and was struck by the Target car. Scott was given a drive through penalty, moving him from the race lead, to 21st. Dixon finished in 15th, while Castroneves came home in 7th place.
It was a call that could have cost Dixon his shot at another championship. At the time, he trailed Castroneves by only 8 points. After the penalty, he was 43 points behind the Brazilian driver. There is no doubt it was a questionable call by race control, and one that will be the subject of many discussions going forward.
After the race, Dixon called it a “dick move” by Power’s team, and that the crew member intentionally walked into his car. He also criticized race control for not having any consistency in their rulings. Race director Beaux Barfield explained his ruling after the race. It was hard to find many people that agreed with his call, but in the end, it’s his to make.
Tony Kanaan started his 211th consecutive race today, which ties him with team owner Jimmy Vasser for the most open-wheel starts in a row. Kanaan will have the record to himself when he starts in next weekend’s race in Baltimore.
Castroneves currently leads Dixon by 39 points in the championship, with Andretti and Hunter-Reay in third and fourth. There are just 4 races (3 race weekends) remaining in the 2013 season. The next event on the IndyCar schedule is the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The race is set for September 1 at 2 PM ET, and will air live on NBC Sports Network.