Carpenter wins Firestone 600
Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud was the lead Honda-powered car in fourth. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon rounded out the top-five.
With a more than 15 second lead over Montoya, Carpenter seemed to be on his way to a routine victory when the yellow flag came out with six laps to go after Takuma Sato's engine let go. The caution period erased Carpenter's gap, and also gave drivers the opportunity to grab fresh tires for a late dash to the checkered flag.
One of the drivers to take fresh rubber would be Power. The Aussie had started from pole, and dominated most of the race before giving way to Carpenter. The two looked poised for a shootout between each other before a pit-lane speeding violation relegated Power to the tail end of the lead lap in sixth place.
“I’ve got to stop making mistakes like that,” Power said earlier this week. “One potential win turned into an eighth-place finish."
Carpenter held on following a restart on Lap 246 to win by 0.5247 of a second over Power. Yes, Power.
Race strategist Tim Cindric called in Power to pit on Lap 244 for fresh tires, and the Aussie overtook three cars on the restart to gain back most of the points he would have lost because of the penalty (12-point difference between second and sixth).
With fresh rubber, Power drove around Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and Montoya in the final two laps, but was unable to mount a challenge for Carpenter.
It would be the second win of the season for the Fuzzy's Vodka team. Mike Conway, who is driving the road and street courses this season, took victory in Long Beach. Conway will be back in the car when the series returns to competition in three weeks on the Reliant Stadium street course in Houston. Carpenter, who is driving the oval races will return to the car at Pocono raceway next month.
Sebastien Bourdais struggled in qualifying yesterday and started 18th. However, the team spent the night reviewing the data and came in this morning with a plan. The setup he raced with provided a more stable platform, which gave Bourdais the confidence to push the car and slowly but surely he began to work his way through the field. With 118 laps of the 248 lap contest completed, Bourdais was sitting in 12th place and running speeds as quick as the leaders. However, while working lap 119 he entered turn three with Justin Wilson charging low. The two made contact severely damaging both cars thus ending their races with Bourdais in 20th place.
Marco Andretti jumped eight positions on the opening lap of tonight’s Firestone 600 for the Verizon IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway, but on Lap 4, he suffered an engine failure on his No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda.
As Andretti slowed down the backstretch and headed for the pits, the engine started to catch fire and forced him to come to a stop near the entrance to pit road.
Andretti quickly climbed out of the car and without taking a look back, he walked away and left the Holmatro safety crew to take care of the flames.
"The start doesn’t matter, I’m just absolutely gutted for the whole Snapple crew. I wanted nothing more than to deliver a win on their home turf. This one’s frustrating and this one really hurts for the championship, too."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "We had a good test here back a couple of weeks ago or a couple of months ago whenever it was. I just felt like we left some on the table in qualifying, but it made me extra motivated for tonight. The first two stints weren't great. Had one bad stint, but the guys just made great adjustments all night. The Fuzzy's car was hooked up by the end. I think we were for sure the car to beat at the end. I was a little worried about that last yellow. I knew guys were going to come in. We talked about what we would do in that situation and we were kind of undecided. But Tim and the boys made the right call. Awesome night. I have loved this race track for a long time and had a lot of bad luck here. I have really always wanted to win here, so super excited."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "I saw [Bourdais] got checked up at the previous corner and I knew my only way was on the inside, I got a good run, a lot of steam on Sebastien and as I was approaching he started to block but my run was so big, it was too much of a block too late. I popped inside but he kept coming until I was out of road and I ended up with two wheels on the apron on turn in and that is never going to work. It is a disappointing end to the day because we had a half decent car, maybe not quick enough for Will [Power] but definitely good enough to be up there fighting inside the top 10 and get a decent result. We were just getting stronger as the night went on and the team did a great job so it is disappointing."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "All of a sudden I was looking inside just in Turn 3 and Justin [Wilson] ended up in the turn and hit the banking and just spun out. Got me on the way. Honestly I don't know if it was a racing incident. I haven't seen anything so I don't know if it's a racing incident, my fault or his fault, but if it's my fault, I apologize."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): (Lap traffic late in the race) "Yeah, I don't know what they were doing. What an awesome call by my team to get tires. I thought I just screwed it up for them again and got another drive through. That is four drive throughs in five races it is not good enough. Anyone who says I don't get drive throughs or penalties are crazy man. I get them every race." (Black Flag penalty's effect on race outcome) "I don't know. It's hard to say Ed [Carpenter] was awful strong. He is an awesome driver and it would have been a good battle there at the end. My car was good at the end of stints. But real happy for the Verizon car to come in second and just a lot of fun."
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Honda): "I learned so much tonight at Texas Motor Speedway. The team did a great job giving me a fast car, and our pit stops were strong. It helped that I didn't make too many mistakes, and we were able to get a strong result. I hear many experienced drivers say that as soon as you think you're used to an oval, it will bite you. With that in mind, I know I'm not used to this type of racing. But I'm starting to get it. There is just so much for me to learn on every corner of every lap in every race. There are a lot of unknowns for me. But when you have a good car like I did tonight, it felt great to be out there fighting for positions."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "Well the right call was they said 'pit' and then they said 'do whatever the leader does'. So I did what the leader did. It was one of those cautions. The thing that is disappointing is they have some cones for the restart and he went probably two or three hundred yards before. How does it work? I mean what is the rule? If you are going to let them restart anywhere then don't put the cones. But if you put the cones it's like NASCAR you have the two lines and you have to respect them. Hopefully they really look at it because I think it was a bit of a joke."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "Tough night for the ABC Supply 14 car. We started just after sunset when it was still warm but as the temperature dropped the car's balance was shifting. We were able to adjust and we gained positions on the track. Although we had more downforce this year, the (tire) degradation was huge. By the end of stint you were hanging on. The ABC crew did a good job with quick stops but unfortunately we had a failure in the end (which caught car on fire) and had to stop the car. I think we learned some things tonight that will help. I'm looking forward to racing in the team's hometown in three weeks."
CARLOS HUERTAS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "Racing here tonight was OK for me. I found it to be really difficult and sometimes I started to feel a bit dizzy after a while. The pace was good at the end of the stints but at the beginning we were not as fast as some other cars. I think my driving style might have helped me save the tires a bit for the end of the stints. I have always been pretty good at looking after my tires and it helped me here."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): "It was a long race and the National Guard team fought hard tonight. There were long stretches of green. We tried really hard to get the car better and better during the race and we did improve but we've got to get more competitive. I think we had some quick lap times out there but we're still a little ways off. To finish 12th feels relatively good but we expect a lot better for this team and myself. To finish tonight says a lot; it's a tough place. Grip and maintaining the tires is a premium here and we struggled a little bit tonight but we'll keep working hard and move forward. We have a lot of oval testing coming up during the break before Houston which is a good thing; we can work hard with it. I think our street course package is good so without a doubt I feel pretty confident that we can have really good races in Houston and be competitive."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing Honda): "We had a great call from the team at the end of the race for that last restart. They gave me a car that suited me very well tonight, which helped me feel comfortable the whole race. Our pit stops were very good, and the whole Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team is showing really well right now. Honda did a great job too, giving us a lot of speed in our engine. It was so exciting at the end, I think the fans must have really enjoyed it. We had such a good night. The car was easy to drive. The No. 77 car was very consistent, which makes your life a lot easier on an oval. I was in full attack mode with the strong Honda engine all night. The pit strategy at the end really gave us the push we needed to move up to fourth. I was a little confused when I was told to pit with two laps left, but I followed the orders and it truly paid off. Fresh tires at the end of a race is what you want. That split second choice enabled us to gain two spots on the final laps, and I had a blast."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "It was another hard-fought race for NTT DATA Racing and the No. 8 NTT DATA Chevrolet. We started in 13th, so it feels good to end in the top 10 in seventh. We're still not where we want to be at the checkered flag, but we're getting closer. We have a couple of weeks off until Houston and we'll be able to get some good testing time in next week at Iowa and Milwaukee. I'm looking forward to the double-header."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "Overall it was a pretty good night for the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet. The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew did a great job in the pits and it's great to see all four Chip Ganassi Racing cars in the top eight. This is honestly probably one of the hardest mental races that I've ever competed in. The car slides around so much at the end of a stint and you go from driving at 213 mph laps to 190 mph laps. We'll take another top 10 finish and stick with our streak of every time we see a checkered flag, we end in the top 10."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): "It's good to get some points here in the Target car at Texas. We hadn't been strong the last two races here so it was a relief to finish I guess. Not the result we wanted but we'll take it and go on to the next race in Houston."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Suave for Men Chevrolet): "We had a good car, I think, and were able to challenge for the lead early on. The Suave For Men team did a great job tonight. We ran strong but that's not enough for this team. We had to change the steering wheel near the end but made that time back up on track. The racing was exciting tonight and we are definitely improving."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers KV AFS Racing Chevrolet): "It was quite a long race out there, but I'm so proud of the whole Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc - KV AFS Racing guys. It's been a long weekend for us as we never had a strong car but we never gave up the fight. We should have had a top-10 finish, but I made a mistake hitting the outside rear tire in Will Power's pit box and received a drive through penalty very late in the race, which cost me some places. Overall it wasn't the position we wanted but hopefully we will learn from here and apply it to Houston in a couple of weeks time."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "It's shocking - right from the word 'go,' I was hanging on for dear life. I don't know what happened. The United Fiber & Data Honda was so good in final practice last night, and from the drop of the green, we were struggling. There were times when the car was so loose, we were, like I said, just hanging on. Rough day for the team all around; I feel bad for all the guys as they put in a lot of hard work. We'll take a look at it and just try to rebound in a couple weeks."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): "I'm sad for the crew. I wanted nothing more than to deliver a win on their home turf. This one's frustrating and it's going to really hurt for the championship, too."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda): "When I made that mistake (spinning in pit lane), I just braked to get down to the speed limit, and I just lost the car completely. There was nothing I could do, and before that we were running really good, really fast. Even after that happened, the Cinsay car was still really good, and I think we could have finished in the top positions. I'm just a little disappointed with that mistake, but it's experience for next time. Now we'll move on - we have testing next week, and I'll try to think about that instead."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Strike/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "Tough race. There were a lot of green laps in a row which is typical with (Verizon) IndyCar (Series) right now because there's not a lot of mistakes out there. People keep going for a long time so that's difficult when you're trying to sort out the car because you don't have a lot of yellows to work with. For us we were alright we just suffered with the rear. We weren't quite as strong with the rear as we thought we were and that was what we were chasing all night."
Point Standings: Power 370, Castroneves 331, Hunter-Reay 310, Pagenaud 279, Andretti 235, Munoz 227, Montoya 223, Dixon 214. Kanaan 189, Wilson 182.
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