Sunday, August 26, 2012

Power again finds misfortune in the pits

Sonoma, California – Man, Will Power must be developing a purple shrieking hate of pit stops.

For the past two years, mishaps in the pits have cost Power the IndyCar Series title.  Today, pit stop misfortune rose up again to cost him an almost certain victory in the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on the twisting Northern California road course.

Power started the race on the pole and commenced what was shaping up as perhaps the easiest Sunday drive of his career.  Only teammate Ryan Briscoe stayed within shouting distance, and through the first couple of pit stops, Power seemed to be merely toying with his second-place Team Penske teammate.

So, on lap 65, here comes Power for his last pit stop of the day.  The pit crew bumbles a bit on the stop, but no big deal, Power is maybe 10 seconds away from exiting the pits and continuing his effortless cruise in the caution-free race.

Then, CRASH!  Out on the track, Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais came together in a frightening, grinding impact against the outside wall. Newgarden sustained what were described as minor injuries.

Briscoe, who had been waiting until the last second to make his final pit stop, took the lead when he reached the blend line ahead of Power, who was caught behind traffic during the full-course caution period.

"He definitely had some bad luck in the pits, but we were there all day," Briscoe said
Power was more upset with what he considered blocking on the racecourse.

"I wouldn’t blame the (slow) pit stop,” he said. “It was more on the people that were holding me up. We had an eight-second lead, (and) probably lost four on the pit stop and the rest was at the track.

“And I do understand that you want to go slower where an accident was. It was a big accident for sure, but these (trailing) guys … were back a lap.”

Whatever the explanation, Briscoe took command on the restart, and Power could do no better than second when the checkers flew on the 85th lap.  Four-time IndyCar Series title winner Dario Franchitti was third, turning in what was arguably the best drive of the day; he fought and clawed all afternoon.

Power obviously felt this one was taken away from him.  But there’s this: His IndyCar Series championship points lead ballooned from 5 to 36 points over Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Now, all Power has to do is hang on for two more races, and the 2012 series crown is his.

Alas, he still has a few pit stops to make before calling it a season.

1 comment:

  1. Power was more upset with what he considered blocking on the racecourse.