Power wins wild MavTV 500, Dixon takes championship

Will Power has exorcised his oval demons tonight with a dominating win in the MavTV 500 tonight. Power had a lone win in the Texas Twin 275k in 2011, but never got it completely done at the end of the day to collect that win.

Tonight, Power dominated the middle stages of the race and when he was up front, he was uncatchable and was the only car that could pull away from the pack. He had to hold on for 1 final restart on lap 243, but he was able to pull away from Ed Carpenter and Tony Kanaan to a healthy margin of 1.4883 seconds at the checkered flag.

“It’s the most satisfying win of my life,” said a jubilant Power. “That is the most satisfying thing I have ever done.  And I wanted to do it so badly all year.  I knew in the early ovals, I just was kind of conservative because I just wanted to finish every lap. And this time I’m going for it.”

Finishing 2nd was last year’s MavTV 500 winner Ed Carpenter, who came in for 4 fresh tires on lap 234, a gamble which paid off as we was able to race his way to second place, but did not have enough for Will Power in the end.

“We came in the pits the last time, and took some downforce off the rear wing to get more straightaway speed for the finish,” said Carpenter. “And it was working. It got us to second. Will (Power) was real fast the few three or four laps out of a yellow.  Then we started reeling him in and we just ran out of laps. If it had gone a little further, I thought we could have caught him. That is the way it goes, and it’s 500 mile race.  It was a crazy one tonight. It would have been hard to run the whole race with the car that trimmed out.  For a shootout at the end, it was manageable.”

In his final race for KV Racing, Tony Kanaan finished in 3rd place, James Hinchcliffe finished in 4th and Scott Dixon finished in 5th.

The race was a pure race for survival as only 9 cars finished the race. The largest incident of the day occurred on lap 111 when Justin Wilson spun in turn 3 and was T-boned by Tristan Vautier. Josef Newgarden also spun and collected Oriol Servia and James Jakes hit some debris from the accident and Simona de Silvestro also spun and made light contact with Wilson’s #19 machine. Wilson was carried out on a stretcher and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital where after an x-ray he has been diagnosed with a fractured pelvis. De Silvestro was the only car to continue the race, and soldiered on to finish 8th.

Nobody was safe from incidents thoughout the race. Sebastien Bourdais, who put on one of his career best performances on an oval leading 35 laps and remaining in the hunt all day long made contact with Power on lap 230 on the backstretch and then spun going into turn 3.

In his 3rd IndyCar start, Carlos Munoz started in 10th and drove a great race was able to run the bottom of the track where most drivers were unable to run and drove very much like he did at the Indianapolis 500 were he finished 2nd. Unfortunately, he pushed lost it in turn 2 on lap 101, ending a remarkable run.

“I think I was doing a good job during the race although during practice I wasn’t feeling all that comfortable,” he said. “But ever since we started tonight’s race, from the first lap, it was like my mind shifted – feeling really comfortable, the car was great, great first run and pit stops, great restart… in the end I just lost the car. It snapped, and I couldn’t do anything. It was my first crash on an oval, but there’s always going to be a first time. I feel really bad for the team. Obviously my plan was to finish the race, but we couldn’t do it. I’m happy with my performance up until the crash, and I’m just looking forward to next year.”

On the next restart, top 5 runners JR Hildebrand and Charlie Kimball both suffered from engine issues almost simultaneously on lap 238, both Honda powerplants.

Overheating issues plagued several cars forcing teams to improvise and bring out of all things a dust buster to clean out the air intakes.

On the championship side, Helio Castroneves fought the good fight, but it was not enough to beat Scott Dixon who claims his 3rd IndyCar championship in 10 years and the 10th for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

Castroneves ran near the front of the pack nearly the whole race and led 27 laps during the 2/5th mark of the race and drove his heart out. With the attrition rate being very high, Castroneves had to drive to win to take the title, but suffered from a rare mistake by Roger Penske on lap 211. Penske called Castroneves in to pit, but the pits were closed. Castroneves did not stop, but had to come back in again to make his pit stop. He was not completely out of the running, but contact with Charlie Kimball damaged his wing and forced him to pit in order to change the wing, which effectively ended his championship hopes.

“Another top 10 – that’s been the theme of this year,” said Castroneves. “Unfortunately the one race in Houston threw us off and cost us the championship, but great job Ganassi and great job to Scott (Dixon). “We really fought as hard as we could, but I think it was a great race.”

Dixon ran a very conservative race and initially was not a factor until the second round of pit stops on lap 73 where his Target Chip Ganassi crew pulled off a stellar pit stop that got him into 6th place and from there he was able the stay in the hunt. Dixon did suffer from overheating issues late in the race, but with Castroneves having his woes, had enough of a cushion to win the championship.

“It was a crazy day,” said Dixon. “We started back. The car we had to work on a fair bit through the race.  Just huge credit to Team Target.  They played everything straight tonight.  We had to work on a bit of strategy, we had to work on the car a lot, and then we had an issue with some overheating problems towards the end. I still can’t believe we’ve won the championship. It’s fantastic. So many people to thank and it’s just unbelievable.“

Final results

  1. Will Power
  2. Ed Carpenter
  3. Tony Kanaan
  4. James Hinchcliffe
  5. Scott Dixon
  6. Helio Castroneves
  7. Marco Andretti
  8. Simona de Silvestro
  9. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  10. Charlie Kimball Mechanical
  11. JR Hildebrand Mechanical
  12. Sebastien Bourdais Contact
  13. Simon Pagenaud Mechanical
  14. Alex Tagliani Contact
  15. Graham Rahal Mechanical
  16. AJ Allmendinger Contact
  17. Takuma Sato Mechanical
  18. Justin Wilson Contact
  19. Oriol Servia Contact
  20. Josef Newgarden Contact
  21. Tristan Vautier Contact
  22. James Jakes Contact
  23. Carlos Munoz Contact
  24. Sebastian Saavedra Contact
  25. Pippa Mann Contact
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