Power outduels Dixon to win Houston Race 2
At the end of the day Power passed Dixon for the lead at the half-way mark and held off Dixon by 0.8286 sec. to win the Shell Oil Grand Prix of Houston as a horrific wreck involving Takuma Sato, Dario Franchitti and EJ Viso unfolded in Turn 5 that saw Franchitti get airborne and into the debris fencing.
Franchitti remained in the car for a long time and it took quite a while for the medics to get him out of the car. He is awake and alert but was complaining of back and ankle pain and was being transported to the hospital for X-Rays.
Franchitti collided with the car of Takuma Sato, who had this account of the accident: "On the last lap I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum," said Sato, the pole sitter for Race 1 in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing. "A couple cars passed me as I was offline and in Turn 5. I got very loose and Dario and I came together."
Helio Castroneves, who led the points for most of the year, had another bad day with more transmission problems. He was spraying oil out of the gearbox from the outset from a crack in the gearbox housing. Helio hit a bump really hard in turn 1 that appears to have cracked the transmission.
His team changed the gearbox but he finished way back and lost the point lead to Scott Dixon with one race remaining - Fontana. Castroneves is now 25 points behind Dixon with all other drivers eliminated from contention.
"I was having fun putting pressure on Power and we tried to push him into a mistake but he held it together for the win," said Dixon. "Congratulations to him."
These bumpy tracks result in entertaining races for the fans, but how do the drivers feel about them?
James Hinchcliffe said, "Part of me likes the bumpy tracks no one wants to see a really grippy track that results in a procession. They definitely are entertaining, but they do cause a lot of cautions which are anti-climatic.
How the race unfolded
At 12:45 p.m., the ambient temperature was 68 degrees with a relative humidity of 52 percent and winds from the south-southwest at 7 mph. Skies were cloudy. The track temperature was 81 degrees, according to Firestone engineers. The track is dry, with small wet spots and puddles. IndyCar Series Race Control has deemed a dry-conditions start.
Lap 1: STANDING START. First attempt aborted after #10 Franchitti, #14 Sato stalled on grid. Drivers will make second attempt, with Franchitti and Sato starting from rear.
Lap 2: STANDING START (2nd attempt): GREEN. #3 Castroneves leads into Turn 1. #25 Andretti assessed drive-through penalty for jumping start.
Lap 3: YELLOW. #15 Rahal hits wall with left front of car in Turn 8. #12 Power has climbed from ninth to fifth. #15 Rahal to pits, four alternate scuffed tires, fuel, new front nose, returns to race. Crew reports no suspension damage from crash.
Lap 5: #10 Franchitti to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 7: GREEN. Restart order: #3 Castroneves, #9 Dixon, #77 Pagenaud, #19 Wilson, #12 Power. #25 Andretti serves drive-through penalty for jumping standing start. #78 de Silvestro assessed drive-through penalty for avoidable contact. #3 Castroneves leads #9 Dixon by .5053 of a second after full lap. #78 de Silvestro serves drive-through penalty.
Lap 8: #3 Castroneves leads #9 Dixon by .7078 of a second. #12 Power up to fourth after starting ninth.
Lap 9: #12 Power passes #77 Pagenaud for third. #3 Castroneves leads #9 Dixon by .5419 of a second. #12 Power third, .8809 of a second behind leader.
Lap 10: #3 Castroneves leads #9 Dixon by .7454 of a second. #12 Power third, 1.3042 seconds behind leader.
Lap 11: #9 Dixon passes slowing #3 Castroneves for lead. #3 Castroneves off racing line, slows further. #9 Dixon leads #12 Power by .6556 of a second.
Lap 12: YELLOW. #3 Castroneves stopped between Turns 7 and 8. Holmatro Safety Team tows Castroneves to pits. Castroneves climbs from car in pits after crew reports broken gearbox housing. #6 Saavedra to pits, four alternate tires and fuel.
Lap 14: #16 Jakes to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #25 Andretti to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 16: GREEN. Restart order: #9 Dixon, #12 Power, #77 Pagenaud, #19 Wilson, #1 Hunter-Reay. #15 Rahal to pits, four alternate scuffed tires and fuel.
Lap 19: #9 Dixon leads #12 Power by .9450 of a second.
•Helio Castroneves has led in six IZOD IndyCar Series races this season. The last race he led before today was the second race in July at Toronto, won by Scott Dixon.
•Scott Dixon has led seven IZOD IndyCar Series races this season, including six of his last eight starts.
Lap 22: #15 Rahal brushes wall in Turn 9, continues to pits.
Lap 25: #9 Dixon leads #12 Power by 1.6115 seconds. #98 Filippi to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #10 Franchitti to pits, four scuffed primary tires and fuel.
Lap 26: #67 Newgarden to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #83 Kimball to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 27: #77 Pagenaud to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #55 Vautier to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 29: YELLOW. #98 Filippi noses into tire barrier. Pit report: #9 Dixon, #12 Power, #1 Hunter-Reay, #27 Hinchcliffe, #19 Wilson, #5 Viso, #7 Bourdais, #11 Kanaan, #4 Servia, #14 Sato, #18 Conway, #78 de Silvestro, #25 Andretti, #20 Carpenter to pits, all for four primary tires, fuel. Dixon beats Power out of pits to keep lead.
Lap 32: GREEN. Restart order: #9 Dixon, #12 Power, #6 Saavedra, #16 Jakes, #1 Hunter-Reay. #1 Hunter-Reay slows on track after start-finish line on restart, drives slowly to pits for service. Right sidepod removed from car in pits.
Lap 33: #11 Kanaan hits wall in Turn 7, coasts to stop between Turns 7 and 8. #20 Carpenter to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 34: YELLOW. #11 Kanaan stopped between Turns 7 and 8. Kanaan climbs from car without assistance from Holmatro Safety Team.
Lap 35: #25 Andretti to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 40: GREEN. Restart order: #9 Dixon, #12 Power, #6 Saavedra, #16 Jakes, #27 Hinchcliffe. #12 Power dives under #9 Dixon for lead in Turn 3 after restart. #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.5919 of a second after full lap.
•Will Power has led in 14 of the 18 IZOD IndyCar Series races this season.
Lap 41: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.4715 of a second.
Lap 42: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.4273 of a second.
Lap 43: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.4998 of a second.
Lap 44: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.6539 of a second.
Lap 45 (halfway): Top 10 – #12 Power, #9 Dixon, #6 Saavedra, #27 Hinchcliffe, #7 Bourdais, #19 Wilson, #16 Jakes, #5 Viso, #77 Pagenaud, #14 Sato.
Lap 46: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.5822 of a second.
Lap 47: #3 Castroneves returns to race after replacement of gearbox, rear suspension, rear driveline in paddock, 36 laps down. #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by .4702 of a second.
Lap 49: #6 Saavedra to pits, four alternate tires and fuel. #16 Jakes to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 50: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.4787 of a second. Blue skies, sunshine over circuit after morning rain. Ambient temperature was 72 degrees with a relative humidity of 38 percent and winds from the west-southwest at 5 mph. The track temperature was 91 degrees, according to Firestone engineers.
Lap 53: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by .8664 of a second. #20 Carpenter to pits, four scuffed primary tires and fuel. #98 Filippi to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 54: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.8458 of a second.
Helio Castroneves talked about his tough weekend, with mechanical problems in both races this weekend, while Team Penske repaired his car in the paddock during the race today.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet): “We’ve had great luck for most of the season. Now in a weekend, everybody’s dream has become an interesting scenario. I will tell you one thing: This team is a testament to never giving up, and I have faith in these guys that they are going to do everything they can to make it happen in Fontana. Unfortunately, the race is still going on. We can’t really understand what happened, but we had a good test for Fontana. Things happen for a reason.” (About Chevrolet’s performance on ovals): “I’ll take every advantage I can get. I know Ganassi will work really hard. At the end of the day, it’s frustrating and disappointing. No one wanted this to happen, especially the Shell Pennzoil boys and Team Penske. It hurts. It really hurts.”
SHELL & PENNZOIL GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON RACE 2 RACE RUNNING (cont.):
Lap 55: #10 Franchitti to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 57: #67 Newgarden to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 59: #18 Conway to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 60: #78 de Silvestro to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #55 Vautier to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 61: Pit report: #12 Power, #9 Dixon, #27 Hinchcliffe, #19 Wilson, #7 Bourdais, #77 Pagenaud, #14 Sato, #4 Servia, #83 Kimball, #5 Viso, #25 Andretti, #16 Jakes to pits, all for four primary tires and fuel. #12 Power beats #9 Dixon out of pits to keep lead.
Lap 62: YELLOW. #20 Carpenter stopped in run-off area in Turn 3. #6 Saavedra to pits, four primary tires and fuel. #1 Hunter-Reay to pits, four alternate tires and fuel.
Lap 63: #16 Jakes to pits, four alternate tires and fuel.
Lap 64: #98 Filippi to pits, four alternate tires and fuel.
Lap 67: #67 Newgarden to pits, four alternate tires and fuel.
Lap 68: GREEN. Restart order: #12 Power, #9 Dixon, #27 Hinchcliffe, #19 Wilson, #7 Bourdais.
YELLOW. Debris from car of #67 Newgarden between Turns 8 and 9. #67 Newgarden to pits, four primary tires and fuel.
Lap 71: GREEN. Restart order: #12 Power, #9 Dixon, #27 Hinchcliffe, #19 Wilson, #7 Bourdais. Push-to-pass remaining among top five: Power 4, Dixon 6, Hinchcliffe 5, Wilson 6, Bourdais 9.
Lap 72: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by .7353 of a second.
Lap 74: YELLOW. #25 Andretti does three-quarter spin to left exiting Turn 6, stalls.
Lap 78: GREEN. Restart order: #12 Power, #9 Dixon, #27 Hinchcliffe, #19 Wilson, #7 Bourdais. #67 Newgarden assessed drive-through penalty for avoidable contact with #25 Andretti, inducing spin that created last caution period. #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.5290 of a second. #67 Newgarden serves drive-through penalty.
Lap 79: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.5462 of a second.
Lap 80: #12 Power leads #9 Dixon by 0.6329 of a second.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet, 23rd): “Well, obviously this is not how we wanted our weekend to go. We started the race strong in the Shell Pennzoil Chevy, and then I just couldn’t shift the car. To be honest, I’m not sure if we hit something or what. It was a very helpless feeling. I have to say, what an incredible job by my guys to fix the damage. The Shell and Pennzoil crew basically replaced the whole rear of the car, and we were at least able to get back out on track and pick up another position. I feel bad for the team because they’ve worked so hard to get us in a position to win this championship. And there is still a lot of racing left. We know we have a strong car in Fontana. We were fast in the test there last week, and we will definitely be going for it. I want to congratulate Will (Power) on a great win. At least the weekend ended on a positive note for Team Penske. Great job by the promoters here in Houston and Shell and Pennzoil for putting on an awesome event. I hope we can come back and win here next year.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet, third): “First and foremost, I hope everyone is OK. That looked really bad. Nothing else matters. We just want everyone to walk out of here fine. From our point of view, happy to be back on the podium. It’s been a rough stretch for us since Iowa. It’s nice to have a good drive rewarded, especially after what happened yesterday. Big thanks to the Andretti Autosport guys. It’s cool to get the pink car on the podium, too. It’s a one-off deal with the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It’s a great cause. Congrats to Will (Power) and Scott (Dixon). They had a little bit more than we did today. Happy with that, but hope everyone is all right.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet, fifth): “The car was fast, could make quite a few moves early in the race when I was still fresh. And then unfortunately as the track was rubbering in, the steering effort got really, really heavy, and I just couldn't control the car anymore. So I really had to dial it down and drive to a pace which was definitely not the car's optimal potential, but we still made it through to P4. And then I made a mistake giving it back to Justin (Wilson). And then after that, I just, I couldn't even think about passing anyone, I was just trying to keep it off the fence. I feel bad for the guys because the car was really, really good and really fast. Just couldn’t quite use it. The steering was slipping in my hands. Just tore my hand up, and it hurts. So overall not the weekend we were hoping for. But P8 and P5, it's better than a bunch of wrecks.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet, 12th): “I'm very happy for the No. 6 TRUECar team after having to battle our way from the back of the field. We took advantage of absolutely everything we could. Starting last and finishing 12th took a great job from everybody. We had great pit stops. However, our strategy didn't go as planned, but we still gave a good battle. We had a strong car, and we were battling upfront for a while. Happy for the No. 7 McAfee car and Bourdais for a top-five finish.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 blu eCigs Honda, 18th): “On the first lap, we got hit by Simona (de Silvestro), and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day. It was going to be very hard to get a lap back on this track, and unfortunately I spun and hurt the rear wing a little later. It’s a shame because the car was really, really fast. I’m not sure we had a 59.5 lap like some of the leaders – I haven’t seen their times – but we certainly could have run the 59s. It’s a shame because the car was very good. I think if we had been up front, we probably could have stayed there, but unfortunately this is what we get for being where we are in the championship. But most of all, I hope Dario and all those guys are OK because that (crash) was scary.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, 22nd): “It was a disappointing day for our Fuzzy’s Vodka team with a clutch problem in the pits on the last stop. I couldn’t get the car out of gear. We had something fall off the car from the bumpy track, and it was tough to handle. It was a rough weekend here in Houston after yesterday’s start. The team just said we had a bad race before Fontana last year and came back to win that 500-miler. Let’s hope that can happen again in two weeks. My job for Fuzzy’s is to be the spoiler for that $250,000 bonus for Tony (Kanaan) and Scott (Dixon) with a win again at Fontana. They are after two-thirds of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown Award there. I think we have a strong car again for that event.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, 13th): “We had an up-and-down day, for sure. Most important thing is that everyone is hopefully safe coming out of the day. It was a pretty bad wreck at the end in Turn 5. It looked pretty nasty for a couple of those guys, but I'm happy to know everyone is OK. We were pretty unlucky with the timing of yellows with our pit stops. I made a mistake toward the end of the race, and it ended up breaking our front wing. After that, we were just about finishing the race. It wasn't reflective of what we had today. I think we had a lot more, but sometimes you have days like this, and other times they're better, so we will move on.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet, seventh): “Honestly, three laps before the end, I was disappointed that we weren’t a little higher on the grid. But then I realized how many races we’ve been running up front, and something happens at the end. So we got a seventh, which is very decent after starting 21st, and it was a legit drive to the front for the National Guard team. The car was great on track, and we had a very good pit stop at the end, which is just like the Panther guys to deliver when it counts. It was a good day all around – just unfortunate that we didn’t have qualifying because with our speed I’m sure we would have started in the top 10, which would have helped and made things a lot easier. But we’ll take this, and it’s a way to build. You need races like this to start finishing regularly in the top five, on the podium and to get wins.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda, eighth): “Obviously, we’re thinking about all the guys involved in that last-corner accident. Not just the drivers, but the fans and the safety team. Hopefully, everyone is OK. Overall, it was a pretty good race for the No. 83 car. We had clean stops, a good race pace, and we just tried to be smart with it. Now we’re going to focus as much as we can heading into Fontana and another 500-mile race to end the season strong.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Angie’s List Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, 11th): “Our pace was good today. We had bad luck with our first pit stop, though, because the yellow flag came out right after we pitted, which lost us a ton of track position. My second stint was not good. Under the long yellow flag, I got pickup on my tires from weaving back and forth too much trying to keep them warm. I fell backward for three or four laps after that. The rest of the race was about trying to charge back. I had a few good moves in the last stint, and our pace was great. It's a disappointing weekend because I feel that we had more to show with the Angie's List car, but the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team was so great to repair my car after a few incidents during the weekend. It's a positive end to the race to come in 11th, though, and now we're focusing on the last oval in Fontana."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet, 10th): “First, I hope that everybody is OK from the last lap. In general with our race, I didn’t get off the line really well and then got into an incident with (Graham) Rahal. I don’t think he saw me, and I had to bail over the curb and got tangled up there. Then we just started fighting back. I think our car was OK, actually pretty fast, but when you’re in the back, it’s definitely more difficult. So to salvage a top-10 from where we started is pretty good. I want to give a really big thanks to the team for this weekend, as well as to Chevy and the Nuclear Clean Air Energy campaign. It was a really good weekend!”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet, 20th): “Today was just a bad day. We could have salvaged something out of nothing there in the end. It’s a shame that it happened the way it did. It cost us nine championship points for no reason. I’m a little disappointed because at this stage in the game we could have finished top-12. That would have been a win for me, but I’m just really disappointed.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet, 21st): “I think we had another podium going today. We were running third, and then the gearbox broke; it’s another DNF for the DHL Chevy. We have just had horrible luck this year, and I guess we just have to look at it as unfortunately circumstances and bad luck. It is what it is; I just hope Dario Franchitti is OK.”Stairlifts Honda, 17th): “It was a tough afternoon. We got up to fourth place, but we struggled with the car all afternoon. We had to pit anyway, and (Sebastien) Bourdais kind of lunged. So I gave him the room, and we lost a couple of spots there. Then we had to pit. After that, later we made the call to pit because the caution came out, and the guys weren’t ready. I don’t think it was their fault, but we lost a lap, and that was that. It’s frustrating, but we will move on to Fontana.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet, 24th): “We had brake issues yesterday and still had them today. I wasn’t pushing the car. I got loose coming out of Turn 8 and got into the marbles. It was my mistake. I feel bad for the guys. We still have one more race to go on the oval in Fontana, and I feel we have a good chance there.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda, sixth): “It’s unfortunate because we struggled with time management here all weekend in Houston. We didn't struggle on restarts nearly as much today, but we had a difficult time managing the red tires in the rear. That's something that we still need to strive to understand as we move forward. I have no regrets after today's race, though. I tried as hard as I could, just as the team did. We missed the championship this year, but we can be very proud to be sitting in third. We still have the opportunity to grab second. It's been a great season overall. We're disappointed today, but we gave it our all, and we'll be back ready to fight in Fontana.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda, fourth): “The track today was pretty good. It started out pretty slick, but as it rubbered up, the grip got better, and it got very fast. We were pushing harder and harder, every lap. It was a lot of fun, but it certainly feels like there are more bumps on day two! It’s physical; it’s tough. I want to thank everyone on the Boy Scouts of America team. We had great pit stops, strategy and a fast car. I'm pleased to be back in the top five again. We were hoping to be in a position to fight for a win, but Scott and Will, they just took it to another level today. I was pushing James (Hinchcliffe) the entire way, but he didn’t make any mistakes. All in all, a great weekend with two top-fives. Obviously, thinking of Dario and the fans. Hope all are OK. I’m looking forward to Fontana; we were good at the test. I think there is more to come. We will go there looking for the same kind of result. We want to go out there and attack and, who knows, maybe come out of there with another win.”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet, 16th): “Well, what can I say? Extremely disappointing race. We were making our way to the front and earning every single spot on the track when we started 12th and running sixth with a big possibility to get fifth. I had a couple more laps of fuel than (Sebastien) Bourdais, and I was pretty confident that I would be able to pass him. In the last pit stop, we had a big problem in the pits, and that ended up ruining our race. We lost six positions there and pretty much needed to stay there until the end of the race. After I got the white flag, there was an accident in front of me that I couldn’t avoid. It was Dario (Franchitti) and Takuma (Sato), and there was nothing I could do, so unfortunately we ended up being involved in that incident.”
Point Standings: Dixon 546, Castroneves 521, Pagenaud 491, Wilson 460, Andretti 457, Hunter-Reay 446, Power 444, Franchitti 418, Hinchcliffe 417, Kimball 406.
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