Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana

Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana

31 August 2014 – Will Power's voice cracked audibly as he spoke to his team on the cool-down laps at Fontana on Saturday night.  Three times in recent memory he has seen the IndyCar title slip through his fingers, sometimes through no fault of his own. But it was the times when his mental roadblocks handed the championships to his rivals that weighed on Power the most. For all of the demons that have chased him this year, causing countless sleepless nights and overwhelming stress, all of them are vanquished tonight.

A ninth-place result after an incredibly fast 500 miles was enough to earn Power his first career IndyCar championship after three runner-up finishes. Calling this his 'toughest race ever,' Power came from second-to-last on the grid on a methodical rise through the order. He purposely stayed back on the start in case of the carnage that punctuated last year's MAVTV  500, but it was quite the opposite that allowed him to take P1 later in the race.

Incredibly clean racing allowed the third leg of the IndyCar Triple Crown to run over 160 laps caution-free – something no other 500-mile race has ever done. This allowed for the first three rounds of pit stops to take place under green, but Power took almost no changes on any of his stops, confident in his car's strength at the high-banked 2.0mi oval in Fontana.

Knowing that the championship would be his if he finished sixth, Power purposely never asked for updates on his radio as to his location relative to his teammate and championship rival, Helio Castroneves. In the meantime, the Brazilian had held station at the front of the field all night, taking turns leading the race on a few different occasions.

The night's polesitter came into the race 51 points adrift of Power, but with the Verizon P1 Award worth one point (as well as another for leading a lap), Castroneves chipped away throughout the 500 miles only to have it come undone for yet another year.

As he made his way around the apron to take his final pit stop, the Brazilian overcooked his entry speed and accidentally slid two tyres back up onto the racing surface, earning him the ire of the stewards and a drive-through penalty that put him a lap down with 60 miles left to race. At the time of the penalty he had slid down to the bottom of the top ten, though – a position that still would have given Will Power the championship. After the drive-through, Castroneves would fall to P14, but he still managed to retain second in the overall points standings on the year.

The other man in the title hunt tonight, Simon Pagenaud, had far worse luck than either of his rivals. A poor-handling car forced him to make several unscheduled pit stops, and when he did get out on track, his laps were often five or ten miles-per-hour slower than the rest of the field. He would finish seven laps down and the last running car on track.

Meanwhile, a very strong race for Tony Kanaan finally saw him break through for Target Chip Ganassi Racing this year, winning the race by 3.6750s over Scott Dixon and Ed Carpenter (who endured a pit lane speed violation earlier in the night). Kanaan had jumped the field in the final round of pit stops, and except for a few wheel-to-wheel battles earlier in the night, he pulled away from the pack to send the No.10 Target car to victory lane for the first time since Dario Franchitti, to whom Kanaan dedicated this Ganassi 1-2 finish.

Kanaan had been one of only three men to turn a 218mph lap on the night, and he also became the eleventh different driver to win a race this year, tying an IndyCar Series record.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya led the most laps of the race (thus taking two points from Castroneves' charge) after starting second. He cycled through several times during the pit stops, but he was eventually tracked down and passed by the likes of Dixon, Kanaan, Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe.

Hunter-Reay wouldn't stay at the front, though, spinning in dirty air off of turn four to bring out the race's first caution on lap 175. He would go a lap down before earning himself a drive-through for a pit exit violation on his final stop.  He would finish two laps down in P16.

The restart would offer some of the most dramatic moments of the night with Kanaan being surrounded on either side by Dixon and Power (who was fresh off nearly rubbing tyres with Castroneves when the green flag dropped). The Australian took the lead for a few laps before being passed by Kanaan, then Dixon and then Carpenter. The slide down the order, coupled with his need for a more settled racecar led for him to call for half a turn of wing to be taken out in the last stop.

Incredibly, as Castroneves was being penalized, seemingly handing the title to Power, Will's pit crew accidentally put a half a turn of wing into the car, completely unsettling it with 30 laps to go. As a result, Power's lap speeds plummeted to 11mph slower than the leaders, but his fall down the order would not be enough to deny the determined Aussie a long-awaited championship.

With his P9 finish, Power becomes Australia's first ever IndyCar champion. Climbing onto the podium with a Australian flag in hand, Power raised the Astor Cup and already began counting down the 167 days until the 2015 season opener. The title is the first for Roger Penske's squad since Sam Hornish, Jr., in 2006, and it was Chevrolet's third straight manufacturers championship, aided tonight with a 1-2-3-4 finish.

Power's final margin of victory in the standings grew to 62 over Castroneves, who is still yet to win the championship after four runner-up finishes. Scott Dixon jumped two spots up into third, trailing Helio by just five.  Simon Pagenaud slipped from third to fifth, also losing out to Montoya, who is more than pleased with his return to IndyCar after forays into Formula 1 and NASCAR. It also means that three of the top five drivers this year belonged to the Penske stable.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 3 September 2015

  2. Pirelli presents Belgian GP conclusions 13:54

    Pirelli presents Belgian GP conclusions

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has presented its conclusions following a detailed investigation into the two tyre failures that…

    F1
  3. Further engine penalties for McLaren pair 13:29

    Further engine penalties for McLaren pair

    McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are set endure further grid penalties at the Italian Grand Prix, after…

    F1
  4. Pérez expects new Force India deal 'soon' 12:03

    Pérez expects new Force India deal 'soon'

    Sergio Pérez says it is his intention to remain as a Force India driver next season, and expects a fresh deal to be announced…

    F1
  5. Cecotto Jr. makes Trident GP2 return 11:02

    Cecotto Jr. makes Trident GP2 return

    Johnny Cecotto Jr. will make a return to the GP2 Series this weekend alongside Ferrari youngster Raffaele Marciello at…

    GP2
  6. 10:42

    Formula 1 2016: Driver line-ups so far

    F1
  7. Williams boosted by line-up stability 10:38

    Williams boosted by line-up stability

    Sir Frank Williams says his eponymous team is in a "fantastic position" ahead of the 2016 season, thanks to the stability of…

    F1
  8. Williams keeps Massa, Bottas for 2016 10:01

    Williams keeps Massa, Bottas for 2016

    Williams will continue with an unchanged driver line-up of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for the 2016 season, the pair…

    F1
  9. 09:55

    Latest F1 photos: Preparations at Monza

    F1
  10. Trummer re-joins Hilmer for Monza 09:06

    Trummer re-joins Hilmer for Monza

    Simon Trummer will make a return to the GP2 Series with Hilmer Motorsport for this weekend's round at Monza. Trummer, who…

    GP2
  11. Video of the Day: Hamilton's Monza preview 05:26

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's Monza preview

    Mercedes driver and championship leader Lewis Hamilton looks ahead to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

    F1
  12. Wednesday 2 September 2015

  13. Video: Toro Rosso duo play word tennis 14:35

    Video: Toro Rosso duo play word tennis

    Toro Rosso youngsters Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen play word tennis ahead of the Italian GP.

    F1
  14. Renault confident over power unit performance 13:40

    Renault confident over power unit performance

    Renault Director of Operations Rémi Taffin says that the power unit supplier can head into this weekend's Italian Grand Prix…

    F1
  15. Williams targets Monza podium repeat 12:24

    Williams targets Monza podium repeat

    Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley believes that there is no reason why the squad cannot target a repeat of its…

    F1
  16. Honda braced for 'big challenge' at Monza 10:32

    Honda braced for 'big challenge' at Monza

    McLaren's engine supplier Honda says it is braced for a "big challenge" at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, due to the…

    F1
  17. Preview: Five key questions for Italy 09:35

    Preview: Five key questions for Italy

    Formula 1 heads to the historic Monza circuit this weekend to signal the end of the European part of the 2015 season. Here…

    F1
  18. Mardenborough steps up to GP2 with Carlin 09:13

    Mardenborough steps up to GP2 with Carlin

    British driver Jann Mardenborough will make his GP2 Series debut with Carlin at this weekend's round of the championship at…

    GP2
  19. Armand to make Pons return at Silverstone 08:24

    Armand to make Pons return at Silverstone

    Philo Paz Armand is set to make his return to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at Silverstone this weekend. Armand, a rookie in…

    FR 3.5
  20. Factfile: The 2015 Italian Grand Prix 07:43

    Factfile: The 2015 Italian Grand Prix

    Formula 1's European leg comes to an end with this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Ahead of the event at the Autodromo Nazionale…

    F1
  21. Video of the Day: Vettel's Monza preview 05:26

    Video of the Day: Vettel's Monza preview

    Quadruple World Champion Sebastian Vettel looks ahead to his first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver.

    F1
  22. Tuesday 1 September 2015

  23. 17:42

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  24. Sainz Jr. set for 10-place grid drop at Monza 17:30

    Sainz Jr. set for 10-place grid drop at Monza

    Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr. is set to take a 10-place grid drop for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, with…

    F1
  25. Video: Ferrari previews home F1 race 14:08

    Video: Ferrari previews home F1 race

    Ferrari previews its home Formula 1 race, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, which takes place this weekend.

    F1
  26. Button hopeful deployment issues fixed 12:43

    Button hopeful deployment issues fixed

    Jenson Button says McLaren-Honda has been working hard to ensure that the deployment problems he endured at the Belgian Grand…

    F1
  27. Rosberg targets qualifying, start gains 12:04

    Rosberg targets qualifying, start gains

    Nico Rosberg is focused on improving his qualifying pace and start procedure at the Italian Grand Prix, as he bids to get on…

    F1
  28. Hülkenberg signs new Force India deal 11:27

    Hülkenberg signs new Force India deal

    Nico Hülkenberg will remain as a Force India driver until at least the end of the 2017 Formula 1 campaign, after the 24 Hours…

    F1
  29. Wilson wins IndyCar fan favourite award 11:26

    Wilson wins IndyCar fan favourite award

    The late Justin Wilson was posthumously awarded IndyCar's fan favourite accolade at the end-of-season championship celebration…

    Indy
  30. Niederhauser to make GP2 debut at Monza 09:29

    Niederhauser to make GP2 debut at Monza

    Patric Niederhauser will make his GP2 debut with Team Lazarus at this weekend's Monza round. Niederhauser, who finished 10th…

    GP2
  31. Video of the Day: Kvyat demos F1 car in Russia 05:26

    Video of the Day: Kvyat demos F1 car in Russia

    Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat showcased Formula 1 machinery at the recent Kazan City Racing event in Russia.

    F1
  32. Monday 31 August 2015

  33. Pirelli completes Vettel tyre investigation 17:53

    Pirelli completes Vettel tyre investigation

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has completed its investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sebastian Vettel's failure in…

    F1
  34. Hülkenberg keen to make up for DNS 14:24

    Hülkenberg keen to make up for DNS

    Nico Hülkenberg is hopeful that he can make up for his non-start in Belgium with a return to the points-paying positions at…

    F1
  35. Video: Dixon snatches title with Sonoma win 13:34

    Video: Dixon snatches title with Sonoma win

    Watch highlights as Scott Dixon wins the double-points Sonoma finale to snatch his fourth IndyCar title.

    Indy
  36. Pérez: We must keep aiming for podium 12:06

    Pérez: We must keep aiming for podium

    Sergio Pérez says Force India should continue to target podium finishes over the remainder of the 2015 season, after an…

    F1
  37. Monza tyre selection 'way more sensible' 10:41

    Monza tyre selection 'way more sensible'

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has been praised for making a "way more sensible" compound selection for this weekend's Italian…

    F1
  38. Márquez concedes 2015 title chances over 10:15

    Márquez concedes 2015 title chances over

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez has admitted that his chances of defending his MotoGP title are all but over after he crashed…

    MotoGP
  39. Rossi 'very proud' of British Grand Prix win 09:32

    Rossi 'very proud' of British Grand Prix win

    Yamaha's Valentino Rossi described himself as "very proud" after mastering wet conditions to win the British Grand Prix and…

    MotoGP
  40. Video of the Day: Driven by Data - Heat 05:11

    Video of the Day: Driven by Data - Heat

    F1 brakes reach extreme temperatures, as McLaren outlines in the final part of its technical video series.

    F1
  41. 01:16

    Latest IndyCar photos: Sunday at Sonoma

    Indy
  42. Peerless Dixon beats Montoya to IndyCar crown 01:12

    Peerless Dixon beats Montoya to IndyCar crown

    For the fourth time in his storied career, Scott Dixon has won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship, bettering Juan Pablo…

    Indy
  43. Sunday 30 August 2015

  44. Helmet auction to benefit Justin Wilson fund 21:43

    Helmet auction to benefit Justin Wilson fund

    All of the IndyCar drivers in today's season finale have decided to donate their helmets to a large online auction for the…

    Indy
  45. 14:32

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
more news