Only the strong survive in Texas. Will Power did just that on Saturday night, earning his 31st career win in the Verizon IndyCar Series. It is the second win for Power at Texas, where he has also captured three consecutive pole awards. He led 180 of the 248 laps, in what was simply an exciting and chaotic race under the lights.
The race finished under caution, as reigning Indy 500 winner, Takuma Sato, had a hiccup on the front stretch, which trigger a multi-car incident. As Sato lost control of his Andretti machine, he went directly into the path of Scott Dixon. The two were running in second and third in the closing laps, but never made it to the finish line.
Tony Kanaan finished runner-up, though he wasn’t very popular in the paddock after the race ended. Simon Pagenaud joined them on the podium, as Graham Rahal and Gabby Chaves rounded out the top five. Marco Andretti was sixth, the final car that managed to finish the race. It truly was an endurance race on Saturday night.
Rainguard Water Sealers 600 Box Score
There were two major parts of the race that will be talked about for awhile. The first was the eight-car accident that took out three whole teams (SPM, ECR, Coyne). It was triggered when Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe, and Mikhail Aleshin were three-wide entering Turn 3. Kanaan appeared to drift up and into Hinchcliffe, which began the carnage. The second incident was Sato taking out Dixon when he clipped the grass in the dogleg heading into Turn 1.
While most of the field was taken out during one of those two incidents, the story played out different for Alexander Rossi, Charlie Kimball, Helio Castroneves, and Josef Newgarden. Rossi was running up front when he found himself as the meat in a Ganassi sandwich between Kanaan and Dixon. Kimball started the race on pole, but had a mechanical issue end his day early. Castroneves and Newgarden each seemed to have handling/tire issues, with Helio’s sending him hard into the outside wall. Newgarden admitted he made a mistake when he tried to go three-wide on the outside exiting Turn 4 with 48 laps still remaining in the race. It was a bitter sweet night for Roger Penske.
Harding Racing is a brand new team, and has now run two races in the Verizon IndyCar Series. They finished ninth in the Indianapolis 500 last month, and earned a top-five finish tonight at Texas. It is also a career-best finish for Gabby Chaves. Despite Marco’s winless streak reaching 101 races, this was his best finish since the 2015 race at Fontana.
The championship picture didn’t change drastically, but there were some movers. Dixon maintains his lead, despite not having a win through nine races this season. Pagenaud is in second place, just 13 points behind as he looks to repeat in 2017. Sato remains third, one point behind Simon. Castroneves slipped to fourth, and with his win tonight, Power moved into fifth place, 40 points behind Dixon. Eight races remain in the 2017 season.
After a busy month of May, two races in Detroit, and tonight’s race at Texas, teams and drivers will now get a chance to breathe. There is a two-week break before the series heads to Road America for the Kohler Grand Prix on June 25.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
Simon Pagenaud: “It was very much pack racing, so we were trying to get away from the pack, which we did for quite a while. It was a way also to save some fuel and stay behind (Will Power). I was trying to protect him so that we could just go as fast as we could, and it worked out really well. At the end there, I was hoping we were going to go a little longer because I had a really good car. It was a lot of fun. It got a little crazy at the end. I tell you, it is just incredible how close we can race against each other. Good fun, good night, awesome working with Will. That is Team Penske, we all work together, you guys don’t believe us, but we do and we showed it tonight.”
Josef Newgarden: “It was definitely a bad decision. It seemed OK…we just got loose. It’s hard to tell if that’s what it was or not, probably going third lane was not a right idea. I was just trying to get some space with (Scott) Dixon, I didn’t know exactly where he was going to go. I probably could have backed out of it sooner and realized it’s not going to be good up there. It’s just my fault. I feel bad for the guys on the No. 2 car. With everything we have been doing, hum by Verizon on the vehicle with us, we’ve had fast cars and it’s always a shame when you make a mistake for your guys. I put that on me, just trying to race hard, and the third lane wasn’t there, so we didn’t have it tonight.”
Conor Daly: “That was crazy. I think the biggest thing tonight is that I learned a lot. That was the first time ever on an oval that I raced side-by-side or that close to anyone. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) we’re never like that and last year I didn’t make it through much of the race. It was a huge level of experience gain. We made progress on the car all the way through and on the last stint, I thought we were really in contention for a top five. We were right in the fight which was really fun. I’ve never experienced any racing like that in my life. Really enjoyed it. It was crazy to spin at the end, but we kept going, so overall just a nice day for us to make it through and survive. I think my guys did a great job – tonight was a lot of work in the pits – we were adjusting the car every stop so I have to thank them for all their work.”
James Hinchcliffe: “We had a run on (Tony Kanaan) and he had plenty of room on the left, but he just came to the right. If you look at the replay, he comes all the way from the white line to the middle of the racetrack, just pinched me into Mikhail (Aleshin). Either his spotter didn’t tell him we were three wide or what, but I couldn’t go anywhere, I was sandwiched in the middle. I was not expecting him to do that; Tony has more experience in this kind of pack racing than anybody. I went wheel-to-wheel with him last year for the win and nine times out of 10 would do that all day long, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t playing very nice today and wrecked a lot of good equipment. It turned into way more of a pack race than we’ve had here in a long time, which unfortunately, leads to situations like this. A lot of good cars taken out, but I’m glad everybody’s OK. We had such a good car. We had that penalty after I looped it in pit lane, but then we raced our way back to the lead lap; we were side-by-side with Will (Power) and we had the car in the top five. The Arrow Electronics car was just incredible and that last pit stop from the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports guys was just great, it’s just a super frustrating way to end a day that was going as well as that in this fashion. I just feel bad for the Arrow Electronics boys because we had two good cars that got taken out today.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “Well, the thing is I was much faster than the guys on the lower line. I thought we were all going to stay together up there, but I think James (Hinchcliffe) touched (Tony) Kanaan – I don’t know the reason for that – then we basically all crashed. I thought we could make it three lanes up there. I didn’t understand what was going on, because I gave space to them, but something was going on with James and Kanaan. In the end, you know, what we have is two great cars that ended up in the wall and that’s just dumb. It’s stupid and I’m very disappointed in regards to the shape of the team this weekend. We could have been in the top spot today.”
Max Chilton: “That was a wild ride in Texas. I was hanging on for 200 laps, then the car started to come to me. Luckily half the field was taken out and it was easy to get into the mix because of attrition. With 20 (laps) to go we were competitive. Unfortunately with the incident, I collected (Scott) Dixon in the aftermath of that accident and that ended it for the Gallagher car.”
Tony Kanaan: “It was a tough night, just very intense from the first to the last lap. I’m going to apologize to (James Hinchcliffe) for what happened – I just got up a little too high. We paid the price for my mistake. We got a penalty, paid the penalty, and we were able to finish second. I’m proud of the team for sticking with me and fighting our way back up front. It was just an intense race. A lot of things happened and you had to avoid a lot of things to finish. I’m not going to lie, I’m glad it’s over.”
Will Power: “It was very intense. 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. Phenomenal job by the guys in the pits. I am so stoked, so happy for Verizon. Shows you how good that Chevy engine is, man, it was super fast tonight. 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.”
Carlos Munoz: “I’m proud of my team. From yesterday’s mistake, we wanted to go to the front and we were coming. We were in the top 10 most of the time and looking pretty good. On ovals, you have everyone in a pack and when there’s a crash in front of you, there’s nothing you can do. I couldn’t avoid crashing. It’s racing, it’s ovals. This is my first crash on an oval, so I guess there’s always a first time. I was proud of my team, we were running pretty good and staying with the leaders. It’s a shame.”
Graham Rahal: “It was a crazy night with a lot of guys taking a lot of chances. After Indy and after this race, drivers need to have to take a deep breath and realize that this is dangerous stuff. I’m glad that our car doesn’t have a ding on it. We weren’t the prettiest thing out here tonight, but the Mi-Jack boys worked very hard and I’m pleased with the end result. We raised a lot of money for Turns for Troops and our United Rentals initiative. I would have liked to have won it, and I actually felt like I had the car to do it, but I struggled with track position all night and I got lucky to not get involved in all those crashes. I’m obviously disappointed in myself to stall on that last stop, but I’m probably lucky because I cleared the incident right after that. We got lucky to miss and avoid those crashes because all of them were right in front of me. I’m looking forward to Road America, which should be a good one for us. Coming off three top fives in a row, hopefully we can go have another good points race with a good result.”
Tristan Vautier: “I think I showed everything I could tonight. I gave it my all and I raced really hard. I’m happy we maximized everything, it’s just a shame to be taken out by something out of our control, and the team really did not need another crash because of all of the crash damage they already had. I tried my best to avoid that and race well. Sometimes you can’t do anything about it.”
Ed Jones: “The guys were trying to run three wide, I think Tony (Kanaan) didn’t leave them enough room. So they crashed, I backed off and hit the brakes, and then I got collected from behind and there’s nothing I could do about that. It put me in the wall and game over. Super frustrating to the team, two extremely fast cars, came from 19th and I think we had a chance to win that one. That’s what hurts most.” (About how frustrating is it that their cars were so fast and yet got collected in the incident) “I feel bad for Dale (Coyne, team owner). Dale’s put so much work into this team. We’ve been so quick this year, but we’ve had a lot of incidents – this is my first incident. It’s painful, but he keeps coming back and coming back stronger every time.”
Ed Carpenter: “It was a wild night. We overcame a lot of adversity. First the spin – I was hoping for a spin and win! – and then got caught up in that big one. But there’s no quit in Ed Carpenter Racing. As many cars as were crashed out, we figured we’d patch it back up and salvage some points. You collect points all year long and you never know what a night like tonight might do at the end of the year for the entrant championship standings for both the No. 20 and the No. 21. I’m proud of the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys putting in the extra work. The easiest thing to do would have been packing up and heading home. I’m thankful for the drive of this team, getting back out there and finishing with both cars. There was a lot of tore up stuff tonight, but all things considered we got out of it alright for crashing twice. But it was really unfortunate, I think we could have raced with those guys at the end. We just had too many things happen, but that’s the way it goes.”
JR Hildebrand: “Huge credit to the team for recognizing that there was an opportunity to fix the car, get back out, and pick up some positions. The Fuzzy’s Vodka crew killed it. With no setup pad, the car that I rolled back out there with could have competed for a top-five finish today with no problem. I’m really proud of the guys. It is a big confidence boost for everyone, the day goes totally sideways and we’re able to end on a positive note which always feels good. Ed (Carpenter) and I were both able to take advantage of the team doing awesome work. Hopefully this kind of gets us on a bit of momentum heading into the rest of the year, we have a lot of racing left to do. It is a bummer not to get a much better finish that we easily could have gotten today, regardless of the carnage, but it makes us all feel good about what we can do from here on out.”
Takuma Sato: “It’s disappointing. We had a very good car the second half of the race. It was an unfortunate situation – I had a car in front of me and a car to my right, I got two tires in the grass, bottomed out and there was nowhere for me to go from that. We just ran out of track. All the cars were battling for position and constantly moving. It was an exciting race for sure, and I am disappointed it ended the way it did.”
Marco Andretti: “It was absolute mayhem – a crapshoot whether you got through it. The good Lord was looking after us probably about 50 times tonight. It was pretty crazy. It was a survival type day, we had a one-lane car so I couldn’t really pass cars. We were fast, but every time I go the run and popped out for the pass, we just lost grip. It was like one-and-a-half lanes out there, the second lane just never came in.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “I don’t know what I need to do here to get things right, but we had a good car early on then came in and made a downforce adjustment and then I completely missed the compensation on the front wing and then I went straight to the back. We spent the rest of the night trying to claw back, just missing the whole downforce front grip equation. We started getting going there, then this deal happened. There were guys making too many moves out there late into the corner. I will save my opinion for after I look at it. I came down, there were cars spinning and sparks everywhere. I went for the apron, I kind of high-sided a bit, and I was just a passenger from there. There was no where to go. You can’t jump all over the brakes from these cars once you are doing 220 mph into the corner, there’s not a whole lot of places to go.”
Charlie Kimball: “I’m obviously gutted for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys. We had such a good day yesterday winning the pole and we had a lot of momentum heading into today’s race. The No. 83 Tresiba Honda was really fast and I believe we had a good chance to win tonight, which makes it even more frustrating that a mechanical failure ended our day. The guys did everything they could to get the 83 back out on track, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us. This one really hurts. I’m glad we have a weekend to regroup and get our heads back in the game for Road America.”
Gabby Chaves: “We did what we had to do. We kept our nose clean. We had a solid car. I think before the accidents, we were inside the top 12. We had great Chevy power until the end, and just made the passes when we had to. Just really proud of the team effort.”
Alexander Rossi: “Our car started off struggling a little bit but then as the high-line started coming in we were getting better. It’s unfortunate because our car was getting good and the track was coming in and I think it was going to turn out to be a decent night. I went to pass Tony (Kanaan) on the inside of (Turn) 3 and we were three wide… and there are two lanes here but there aren’t three.”