Power Finishes Fifth in Controversial New Hampshire Race
August 14, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
LOUDON, New Hampshire (August 14, 2011) – Will Power led Team Penske on Sunday as he wound up with a fifth-place finish in the rain-shortened MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) once the dust settled from the controversial conclusion.
Ryan Briscoe made it two Team Penske top-10 results on Sunday as he finished eighth, while teammate Helio Castroneves recovered from an early accident to finish 17th on the day.
Power, who started 13th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda, made up some ground in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship chase with Sunday's result as points leader Dario Franchitti was involved in an accident and finished 20th. Power is still second in the series standings, but now trails Franchitti by just 47 points.
In a race run under threatening skies throughout the afternoon, rain directly caused two separate extended caution periods and factored into the controversy surrounding the finish of the first IndyCar event held at the 1.025-mile NHMS oval since 1998.
After running the previous 10 laps under the yellow caution flag for moisture on the track, officials called for a restart of the race on lap 217 of the event scheduled for 225 laps. As the rain continued to fall and made the racing surface slick, Danica Patrick's car spun in front of Power, who took the restart in the fifth position, and contact from behind sent the No. 12 Verizon car into the inside wall. The accident, which also involved several other cars, effectively ended Power's race and he lost his temper after exiting the car as he showed his displeasure for the officials' decision to restart the race under the treacherous conditions.
With moisture still soaking the track and under caution for the accident, officials eventually called the race and ruled that the finishing order would reflect the positions before the ill-fated restart due the mistake made by Race Control. The decision resulted in Power's eighth top-five result in 13 races this season. After the race Power apologized for his behavior following the incident.
"First of all, I have to apologize for losing my temper after the accident that ended our race," said Power. "Regardless of what happened on the race track, my behavior was inexcusable and I apologize to our sponsors, the fans, the IZOD IndyCar Series officials and the Penske Racing organization. I should not have behaved the way I did and I am sorry. It's definitely no excuse but I was just very frustrated because our car ran so well and our team had worked so hard to put ourselves into a position to get a good finish and I thought it was just ridiculous to restart the race under the dangerous conditions that existed on the race track. I am just glad the officials decided to make the decision to revert the finishing order back to what it was before the final restart. I want to thank my team for their hard work today and, again, I'm sorry for the way our race ended and how I handled the situation."
Briscoe earned his eighth top-10 finish of the season after he started sixth in the No. 6 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda. He came home eighth to conclude a challenging weekend for Team Penske that saw the team struggle in practice and qualifying.
"It was certainly a difficult race out there and a tough weekend overall, but I'm proud of our effort on the Penske Truck Rental team," said Briscoe, who improved to sixth in the standings with Sunday's finish. "We were fighting to be in the top five all day but we had a tough last restart – we just got stuck on the bottom of the track and it was really hard to recover after that. The race never should've gone back to green at the end there as the conditions were just too poor. We did the best we could today and we came out of it with a top-10 finish. We'll take it and move on to Sonoma."
In his 200th career IndyCar race for Team Penske, Castroneves started ninth in the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Just seven laps into the race, Castroneves spun on a restart and the car sustained right-rear suspension damage after it made contact with the inside wall. After repairing a punctured radiator and damage to the underwing suffered in the warmup session earlier in the day, the No. 3 Team Penske crew did another great job making repairs as Castroneves returned to the track running several laps down to the race leaders. He continued to make up ground during the race and took the checkered flag in 17th place.
"The Guidepoint Systems car turned some fast laps out there today," said Castroneves who is now ranked 11th in the championship point standings. "It's unfortunate that we got caught in some turbulence early in the race and ended up spinning the car and hitting the wall, which cost us a lot of laps. The No. 3 Team Penske crew did a great job of fixing the car and getting us back out on the track. Our car was definitely a top-10 car today. It just didn't work out for us. Now we'll look ahead and move on to the next race in Sonoma."
The IZOD IndyCar Series season resumes on Sunday, August 28 with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. Power returns as defending champion of the event and Castroneves also won their in 2008. Live coverage of the race will begin at 4 p.m. ET on VERSUS.