Power Claims 'Texas-Sized' Win at Rainguard Water Sealers 600
Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) led Chip Ganassi Racing's Tony Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Honda) and teammate Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 DXC Technology Chevrolet) to the checkered flag in the ninth race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. But not without lots of drama leading to the race finish under caution.
"Over the moon to win here," said Power, whose win ties him with Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti for ninth on the all-time list. "My second home and my wife is from here, so we spend a lot of time down here, so just an amazing feeling."
With nine cautions on the evening, the race became one of attrition as multiple on-track incidents left just nine cars running at the conclusion of the 248-lap event on the high-banked, 1.5-mile oval.
The final incident of the evening on Lap 244 came when championship contenders Takuma Sato (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda) and Scott Dixon (No. 9 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) made contact on the front straightaway, spinning into the SAFER Barrier in Turn 1. Also collected were Chip Ganassi Racing's Max Chilton (No. 8 Gallagher Honda) and AJ Foyt Racing's Conor Daly (No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet), forcing the remainder of the race to be run under caution.
The race's most notable incident occurred on lap 152, when Kanaan made contact with James Hinchcliffe (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) entering Turn 3, triggering a massive pileup involving nine cars. No one was injured but six cars - for Hinchcliffe, Mikhail Aleshin, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz, Tristan Vautier and Ed Jones - were eliminated. The race was red-flagged after 154 laps to clean up debris from the incident. On the ensuing Lap 159 restart, Kanaan was assessed a 20-second stop-and-hold penalty for avoidable contact and blocking.
Despite losing two laps, the Brazilian used subsequent cautions to regain lead-lap status and charged forward in the final laps to claim his first runner-up finish since Road America last year.
"It was a tough night," said Kanaan, who scored his third consecutive podium at Texas, "just very intense from the first to the last lap. I'm going to apologize to Hinch 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."
Following the red flag, INDYCAR announced it would require competition cautions after every 30 green-flag laps and mandate teams to change four tires under caution, as race conditions affected tire wear in a manner different than previous on-track sessions on the recently-reprofiled and repaved 1.5-mile oval.
A statement from INDYCAR read: "INDYCAR, after consulting with (tire manufacturer) Firestone, instructed its Verizon IndyCar Series teams to change tires after 30 green-flag laps during the final laps of the race at Texas Motor Speedway. This action has been taken out of an abundance of caution as race conditions presented different conditions than seen in earlier tests."
Despite his late race exit and ninth-place finish, Dixon remains in the championship lead. The four-time series champion is 13 points ahead of reigning champion Pagenaud and 14 ahead of Indianapolis 500 winner Sato. Power's win vaults him into fifth in the championship, just 40 points out of the lead.
The Verizon IndyCar Series next turns to popular Road America for the Kohler Grand Prix, June 23-25. Coverage of Verizon P1 Award qualifying can be found on NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET Saturday June 24, and race coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday June 25 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
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