Texas IndyCar: Power wins after crash-strewn race

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Texas IndyCar: Power wins after crash-strewn race
David Malsher
By: David Malsher
Jun 11, 2017, 4:01 AM

Will Power led 180 of the 248 laps to win the RainGuard Water Sealer 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, but behind him were so many pile-ups that only six healthy cars made it to the checkers on the lead lap.

Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet takes the win
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda pit stop
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda crash
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda crash

At the start, Ganassi-Honda's polesitter Charlie Kimball shot into the lead as teammate Scott Dixon struggled to hold off Alexander Rossi’s Andretti Autosport-Honda but eventually clung on, while Tony Kanaan’s Ganassi machine had to hold off Tristan Vautier’s Dale Coyne Racing-Honda and Takuma Sato in another Andretti car.

Ed Carpenter’s ECR-Chevrolet moved forward rapidly, Power’s Penske-Chevrolet made a slow start and dropped to 12th but by Lap 9 he was passing Carpenter for seventh although a couple of laps later, their positions switched back.

Vautier passed Kanaan for fourth, and on Lap 14, he passed Rossi around the outside of Turn 1 and 2 – a move that, pre-race, most thought was impossible. It would go on to be de rigeur.

Just a lap later Vautier was past Scott Dixon and trying to go around the outside of Kimball too. He kept working on it though, as Kanaan moved into third to pressure the pair of them.

Behind them, there were big changes as the Penske-Chevrolets of Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud moved forward, and by lap 21 Newgarden was up into fourth ahead of Dixon.

Vautier finally hit the front on Lap 29, and Kimball’s lost momentum allowed Newgarden to grab second. Right behind, Power worked on Kimball and found a way by and another Chevy to fight back into contention by grabbing fourth was Carpenter.

The first yellow flew on Lap 37 when Alexander Rossi crashed into the Turn 3 wall. Dixon had drafted alongside him on the back straight, but Kanaan was on the outside of Rossi. The Andretti driver bounced off the pair of them and lost the rear end.

Vautier led Newgarden, Power, Kimball, Carpenter, Pagenaud, Mikhail Aleshin, Kanaan, Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay into the pits under caution. Newgarden won the race off pitlane ahead of Power, Vautier, Dixon, Carpenter, Pagenaud, but the big drama happened behind.

James Hinchcliffe lost control of his car as he left his pitbox while trying to swerve around Helio Castroneves, looped into the Brazilian who then pinched Sato’s Andretti car into the pitwall.

Hinchcliffe got away apparently unharmed, while Castroneves got pushed back to his pitstall to be refired and gain a new front wing - and got away in time to not lose a lap. Sato, in contrast, did lose a lap, as his front wing was torn up and needed replacement.

Heartbreakingly for polesitter Kimball, he failed to leave the pits at all and got dragged back to the paddock.

Finally, word came that both Newgarden and JR Hildebrand had sped on pitroad and that Hinchcliffe would be penalized for the pitroad accident, which put the #5 car a lap down.

Power led the restart, holding off some more bold moves from Vautier as Dixon and Pagenaud charged forward with Kanaan in tow followed by Aleshin, Carpenter, AJ Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz, the second Coyne car of Ed Jones and a charging Castroneves.

On Lap 66, Pagenaud cleared Dixon and made short work of moving into second ahead of Vautier. Behind this quartet Aleshin and Kanaan were having a great battle for fifth, but Castroneves breezed past the pair of then and started hassling Dixon for fourth by Lap 75.

Another driver who had made great progress since having to restart from the back was Hildebrand, who had moved up to ninth ahead of team owner Carpenter by Lap 82. By contrast Newgarden hadn’t made progress due to a tire vibration caused by blistering his right front, so he pitted early on Lap 83.

Hinchcliffe meanwhile was attempting to unlap himself, constantly running alongside Pagenaud, who was just trying to stick close behind teammate Power. Castroneves made it a Penske 1-2-3 briefly but on Lap 91 the right-front tire on the #3 let go and he made a hard side-on impact with the wall at Turn 2.

The pits opened on Lap 95 and the race off pitroad saw Power emerge ahead of Pagenaud, Dixon, Kanaan, Aleshin, Hildebrand (after a great stop), Vautier, Carpenter, Munoz, and Marco Andretti.

Sato, Hinchcliffe, and Newgarden pitted a lap later but were now all on the lead lap, and Newgarden got a top-up, too, on lap 100 as the field circulated under caution while the debris from Castroneves’ shunt was still being cleared.

The restart came at the start of Lap 103, and there was further drama when the right front endplate of Carpenter’s car made contact with the left-rear endplate of Vautier’s car, which looped the ECR-Chevy into a spin.

Carpenter saved it in a moment reminiscent of Danny Sullivan at Indy in 1985, then pitted, and rejoined at the back of the 19-car field. 

The next restart came on Lap 108, and Vautier was swiftly around Aleshin and Hildebrand to grab fifth, as up ahead Dixon was trying to get around Pagenaud for second. When that failed, he lost momentum and Kanaan zoomed past Dixon and Pagenaud and started sitting on the outside of Power, challenging for the lead. When Vautier tried to make it three wide, he lost momentum and fell back behind Pagenaud and Dixon.

On Lap 116, Pagenaud moved past Kanaan again for second, and a couple laps later Vautier repassed Dixon to take fourth, while Schmidt Peterson's Aleshin moved up to sixth. At this stage, both AJ Foyt Racing cars ran in the Top 10, Munoz and Conor Daly in seventh and 10th, sandwiching Jones and Hildebrand, although Jones grabbed seventh on Lap 125 and suddenly Daly fell back to 19th.

Replacing him in 10th was Newgarden, charging back toward his teammates who now looked a bit more comfortable running 1-2.

On lap 139 the yellow flew for debris at Turn 2, and under caution Power, Pagenaud, Kanaan, Dixon, Vautier, Aleshin, Jones, Hinchcliffe and Carpenter emerged from the pits, but they were now behind Max Chilton’s Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda, which hadn't stopped. The ex-Formula 1 driver made a good jump when the green flag dropped, but Power got back in front on Lap 149.

Four laps later, all hell broke loose, as Hinchcliffe, after backing out of a three-wide situation, made contact with Kanaan down the back straight after getting squeezed between the Ganassi car and Aleshin.

The resultant carnage wiped out both Schmidt Peterson cars, both Coyne cars, both Carpenter cars, Munoz’s Foyt machine and Hunter-Reay’s Andretti car, thankfully without causing injury, and inevitably brought out the red flag.

As the remaining healthy cars sat on pitroad idle, Coyne went down to the #10 car to remonstrate with Kanaan for moving up the racetrack into Hinchcliffe, apparently unaware that Aleshin had made it three-wide. Hinchcliffe, too, did not hold back in his criticism of Kanaan, saying “he turned right to make a left-hand turn.”

IndyCar Race Control agreed with Coyne and Hinchcliffe, and Kanaan served a stop and hold penalty of 20 seconds.

Just 11 cars would make it to the restart some 30 minutes later, with Power leading Chilton, Pagenaud, Kanaan, Newgarden, Dixon, Sato, Gabby Chaves in the Harding Racing-Chevrolet, Graham Rahal in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, Andretti and Daly.

IndyCar elected to make immediate pitstops mandatory and then again after every 30 laps of green-flag racing, a response to some alarming blisters that had been seen on the cars of Newgarden, Castroneves and Rahal. 

Power led Pagenaud at the restart and Newgarden moved forward to pass Dixon, but Dixon soon repassed him to prevent a Penske 1-2-3. These four were being chased by Sato (with the lapped Andretti right behind), Rahal, Chaves, Chilton and Daly. Chaves clipped Rahal as he passed him, was ordered to relinquish the spot, but by Lap 180 he had repassed the RLLR car anyway. 

Newgarden pitted even before the competition yellow on Lap 190, with more blisters on his right-front, but he was ordered to pit again under the competition yellow. Dixon beat Power to the pit-out line on this occasion, with Pagenaud, Sato, Rahal, Chilton, Chaves, Newgarden, Daly, Andretti (now back on the lead lap) and Kanaan, one lap down. By now ECR teammates Carpenter and Hildebrand had also rejoined the field several laps down, just trying to gain some decent points in 12th and 13th.

Power made a strong restart on Lap 198 to go around the outside of Dixon and retake the lead but Pagenaud struggled to get back in front of the Ganassi car. Three laps later, Newgarden tried to go three-wide around the pair of them, lost control, and smacked the Turn 4 wall. Daly chose the caution period to make an extra pit stop.

The next restart came at the start of Lap 210, with Sato trying to make a move around the outside of Dixon to try and grab third. When that failed, Dixon found the momentum to pass Pagenaud to grab second, and soon Sato had regathered his wits and demoted Pagenaud to fourth.

The Indy 500 winner moved in on Dixon once more and managed to make the pass stick but then lost momentum trying to pass Power, and Dixon repassed the Andretti car just in time for the final competition yellow.

That meant that Dixon pitted right behind Power, chased by Sato, Pagenaud, Rahal and Chaves as the top five. Power just about held off Dixon on the exit, and the top four stayed the same, but Rahal stalled as he tried to leave and fell to ninth, behind Chilton, Chaves, Andretti and Daly.

With 19 to go, the field got the green and Power got a good jump but Dixon quickly got up alongside and they lapped endlessly like this. Behind, Pagenaud, Sato, Chilton and Kanaan, now back on the lead lap, ran in similar formation. 

Kanaan was running strongly now, and was up to third and ahead of Pagenaud and Sato, but in the final 10 laps, Sato was able to get back in front. Then, while tracking Power and running alongside Dixon on Lap 243 with five to go, Sato ran over the grass at the dogleg on the front straight, lost control and smacked into Dixon. The race would end under caution.

After leading 180 of the 248 laps, Power took his 31st win, to equal Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti in joint ninth in the all-time Indy car winners’ list. He was followed home by Kanaan, Pagenaud, Rahal, Chaves (a remarkable fifth in the Harding team’s second start) and Andretti.

Daly, Chilton, Dixon and Sato were wrecked but completed the Top 10.

Race results:

Pos.#DriverTeamTime/Gap
1 12 australia Will Power  Team Penske 2:32'31.0118
2 10 brazil Tony Kanaan  Chip Ganassi Racing 0.1978
3 1 france Simon Pagenaud  Team Penske 0.3740
4 15 united_states Graham Rahal  Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 0.8112
5 88 colombia Gabby Chaves  Harding Racing 1.8984
6 27 united_states Marco Andretti  Andretti Autosport 4.1632
7 4 united_states Conor Daly  A. J. Foyt Enterprises 1 lap
8 8 united_kingdom Max Chilton  Chip Ganassi Racing 3 laps
9 9 new_zealand Scott Dixon  Chip Ganassi Racing 5 laps
10 26 japan Takuma Sato  Andretti Autosport 5 laps
11 20 united_states Ed Carpenter  Ed Carpenter Racing 24 laps
12 21 united_states J.R. Hildebrand  Ed Carpenter Racing 33 laps
13 2 united_states Josef Newgarden  Team Penske 47 laps
14 5 canada James Hinchcliffe  Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 97 laps
15 7 russia Mikhail Aleshin  Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 97 laps
16 18 france Tristan Vautier  Dale Coyne Racing 97 laps
17 19 united_arab_emirates Ed Jones  Dale Coyne Racing 97 laps
18 14 colombia Carlos Munoz  A. J. Foyt Enterprises 97 laps
19 28 united_states Ryan Hunter-Reay  Andretti Autosport 97 laps
20 3 brazil Helio Castroneves  Team Penske 158 laps
21 83 united_states Charlie Kimball  Chip Ganassi Racing 207 laps
22 98 united_states Alexander Rossi  Andretti Autosport 212 laps
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About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Texas
Location Texas Motor Speedway
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud
Teams Team Penske
Author David Malsher
Article type Race report