Power feels jinxed after another failed championship bid
Will Power's No. 12 Penske Racing Chevrolet caught a seam in Turn 2 of the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval yesterday and went careening into the wall. (AFP)
All Will Power could do was shake his head in disgust at his third failed attempt at winning an IZOD IndyCar Championship.
Instead of celebrating a great victory by Ryan Hunter-Reay — the first American to win an IndyCar title since Sam Hornish Jr. did it in 2005 — open wheel racing is wondering if Power will ever break the jinx he appears to carry on his slender shoulders.
Power went into Saturday’s night’s season-ending race with a 17-point advantage over Hunter-Reay and the
No. 28 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet team.
All he had to do, really, was pretty much finish on the lead lap and the trophy and the $1 million that goes with it was in his back pocket.
On lap 55, however, Power’s No. 12 Penske Racing Chevrolet caught a seam in Turn 2 of the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval and went careening into the wall.
It was reminiscent of what happened in 2010 when he was also leading the championship going into the final race at Homestead Miami Speedway.
He crashed on his own there, too, handing the silverware to Dario Franchitti.
Last season, sadly, Power never even got to try to win on the final day when the race was ended after the tragedy on Lap 11 that killed Dan Wheldon.
On Saturday night not even Hunter-Reay could believe what happened.
“I looked over just before Will lost it and I couldn’t believe it ... I thought he was going to take us out too,” he said. “But Will coming in runner-up quite a few seasons in a row, it’s just a matter of time before he wins it with the talent that he has.”
In the end all Hunter-Reay had to do was finish fifth to take the championship and while there was at least one hiccup — a red flag with less than a dozen laps to go — he finished fourth.
“I was on the edge the entire time just trying to hold on to the car,” he said. “Then the red flag comes out and I have to sit there and think about it some more. This is just amazing, you know. This is what racing is about, what sports are about.”
For Power there was nothing to do but lament another lost golden opportunity.
“I just don’t know why on the ovals I am jinxed,” he said. “I had a bit of understeer, so I went a half a lane down and caught a seam. It absolutely took me by surprise. It is the last thing I thought would happen running down there on that seam. Depressing to lose the championship again that way.”
Bad luck also struck Canada’s Alex Tagliani, who was leading late in the race when the engine in his No. 98 Barracuda/Bryan Herta Racing Honda expired.
“I think we were the car to beat at the end,” he said. “I won’t lie, it’s disappointing.”
The other Canadian in the race, James Hinchcliffe, was running in the top 10 early, but fell back as night fell.
“As soon as the sun went down, I’m not sure if it was just the set-up or a problem, but either way a very tough day for the Go Daddy guys,” he said.
Ed Carpenter won the race in the No. 20 Chevrolet with Franchitti second in the No. 10 Honda and Scott Dixon third in the No. 9 Honda.
Staying on track
D.J. Kennington is poised to win his second NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship after a convincing win in the Wilson Equipment 300 at Riverside Speedway in Antigonish, N.S.
The St. Thomas, Ont., driver will take a 23-point lead over J.R. Fitzpatrick into the final race of the season Saturday at Kawartha Speedway near Peterborough. It was the sixth win of the year for Kennington and the No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge.
Fitzpatrick finished second at Riverside in the No. 84 Equipment Express Chevrolet after starting on the pole and trading the lead with Kennington on six different occasions.
Kennington said the six lead changes certainly made the race interesting.
“Sometimes you have to give up something to gain something at the end,” Kennington said. “The car wasn’t as fast as we would have liked out of the gate, but it got better and better the longer we ran. At the end of the race it was awesome and I can’t ask for anything more.”
Mark Dilley finished third in the No. 2 Leland Ford, with Scott Steckly fourth in the No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge and Ron Beauchamp Jr. rounding out the top five in the No. 60 Mopar Dodge.
The win for Kennington — the 17th of his NCTS career — comes in the wake of an uncharacteristic mechanical failure at Barrie Speedway last week that gave him his only DNF of the season.