HOMESTEAD, Fla. (October 2, 2010) – A brush with the wall damaged the suspension on Will Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda on Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and, in spite of the valiant efforts of his crew to repair the damage, brought an end to Power’s quest of winning the IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
Power was running in fourth place when his car brushed the wall in the exit of Turn 4 on the 135th lap of the 200-lap race. The crew desperately tried to repair the car, replacing the right rear wishbone in just a few minutes, but Power was unable to continue after returning to the track. He retired from the race and finished 25th as Dario Franchitti, who finished eighth, wound up winning the championship by just five points.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” said Power, who came into the race 11 points ahead of Franchitti. “I really wanted to win this championship. It was at a point in the race where I felt I really had to push because Dario had led the most laps and was leading the race. I was trying to get around (Ryan) Hunter-Reay, and I got a little too high and brushed the wall and bent the suspension.”
While Power encountered trouble, his teammates recorded top-five finishes after racing for the lead. Ryan Briscoe posted a fourth-place result in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, while Castroneves finished fifth in the No. 3 Team Penske machine.
All three Penske drivers finished among the top five in the final IndyCar Series standings (Power was second, Castroneves wound up fourth and Briscoe was fifth).
“I struggled in traffic all night long,” said Castroneves, who saw his two-race winning streak halted Saturday night. “But at the end of the race I had a car that felt like it was capable of a little bit more. There was definitely some questionable driving out there. Thanks to Team Penske and my guys for a great finish to our season. I am excited about coming back and doing it all over again next year - hopefully with a better ending in the championship.”
Briscoe challenged Franchitti for the lead early in the race, leading four times for a total of seven laps. One year after he fought Franchitti for the series championship at Homestead, Briscoe once again was a force at the South Florida track.
“That was a very wild race,” said Briscoe, who finished among the top five in the championship for the third straight season. “We really had to drive the car a lot out there tonight. I gave it everything I had in the Team Penske car. Thanks to my guys. They gave me great stops tonight and all year long. That was a tough finish for Will. He drove his heart out tonight and all season.”
While Power came up a handful of points short of the championship, he completed a remarkable season, winning five races, a series record eight pole positions and the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship as the most successful driver in IndyCar road and street races.
“Like I predicted at the beginning of the season, the guy who made the least amount of mistakes would win the championship,” said Power, who suffered his first DNF of the season on Saturday. “Next year I’ll come back very strong. The confidence I’ve gained on the ovals is very important. I knew going into this year that ovals were going to be my weak point, but now I feel like I’m on par with the other guys. Next year will be a tough fight.”
A year ago, Power was recovering from serious injuries sustained in a crash at Infineon Raceway. He returned to the track more motivated than ever and he asserted himself as a contender from the outset as he won the first two races of the season and led the championship for nearly all of 2010. He believes he’ll be just as driven in 2011 – if not more.
“Last year I was here watching this race in a back brace,” added Power. “The Verizon team had a great season, and we have a lot to be proud of. This has been the best season of my career in motorsport, and I’ve learned so much. We’ll be coming back to win this thing next year.”