Will Power survived a wild Rainguard Water Sealers 600 to win Round 9 of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship at Texas Motor Speedway. The Australian driver captured his second win of the season, which ended under caution, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, ahead of Tony Kanan in the No. 10 Honda and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 1 Chevrolet who completed the podium. Only nine cars finished the race with ‘Pack Racing’ being on the minds of many in the stands, behind the wheel and watching at home.
Successfully staying near the front of the field after qualifying ninth, Power stayed ahead of much of the action, which included a number of multi-car incidents, tire issues and mandatory yellow flag pit stops at the revised Texas oval. It’s the 31st win of Power’s career, second at TMS and number 191 for Team Penske.
Graham Rahal finished fourth ahead of a surprising result from Gabby Chaves in the new Harding Racing Chevrolet. The team built upon their debut in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 to score their first top five in their second race. Harding Racing also plans to be at Pocono later in the season.
Kanaan was involved in two separate incidents that brought out yellow flags. The first ocurred on Lap 38 when contact between Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 Honda and Kanaan sent the young American driver hard into the wall. Dixon held the outside line with both Kanaan and Rossi to his inside with Rossi paying the price.
A total of seven incidents interrupted green flag racing with the largest one coming on Lap 151. Contact between Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe while running three-wide next to Mikhail Aleshin sent Hinchcliffe’s No. 15 Honda spinning. Kanaan escaped major damage, but Hinchcliffe and Aleshin were forced to retire. The accident brought out the red flag for clean up.
The incident took a number of competitive entries out of competition, leaving only 11 cars out on track. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, and both Dale Coyne Racing Hondas were collected in the incident. Tristan Vautier filled in for Coyne’s injured Sebastien Bourdais throughout the weekend. The Frenchman led laps after qualifying fifth in a No. 18 Honda that looked to be the class of the field.
Kanaan was the subject of many post-race comments from drivers and even team owners. With two of his cars crashed at the end of the night, Dale Coyne was seen leaning over the side of Kanaan’s Honda during the red flag before a series official asked him to walk away. Both Aleshin and Hinchcliffe placed the blame on the Brazilian driver as well.
INDYCAR and Firestone made the decision during the red flag to issue mandatory competition caution flags every 30 laps due to blistering occurring on the tires. The compound brought to the track by the tire manufacturer was a new compound with limited testing.
Scott Dixon escaped the weekend with a 13-point lead over Pagenaud, but was also involved in the incident that caused the race to end under yellow. Dixon was running side-by-side with Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, who dropped two wheels off in the quad oval with five laps remaining. Sato lost control of his No. 26 Honda taking the No. 9 machine out of contention. The incident enraged Dixon so much after the race that he declined to speak to the NBC broadcast after being released from the infield care center.
Behind Dixon and Pagenaud in the points is Sato, 14 points off of Dixon’s 326. He’s followed by Helio Castroneves, who retired after a tire failure resulted in hard impact with the wall. Power’s win bring him within 40 points of the championship, now sitting fifth overall.
The next round of the Verizon IndyCar Series is just a week away for the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America. The series returns to the fan-favorite venue for the 10th round of Indy car action this season June 23 – 25. The race broadcast is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, June 25. Tickets for the event can be found here.