Before a small crowd of under 10,000 fans, Will Power won the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship Saturday evening, as Tony Kanaan took the checkered flag in Saturday evening's MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. The victory was Kanaan's first since winning the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and his first since joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Kanaan's teammate Scott Dixon was second, with Ed Carpenter completing a Chevrolet sweep of the podium.
"It's been a long time coming," said Kanaan, who claimed his first victory since the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and announced that his wife, Lauren, was expecting their first child in January. "We had a team meeting this afternoon and (team owner) Chip Ganassi said if you win you can brag about it for seven months."
But at the end of the day the story was Power.
The Aussie, of course, finished second in the series standings three consecutive seasons from 2010-2012. Tonight a ninth-place finish was good enough for his first series title. It was also the first series championship for Team Penske since Sam Hornish won the 2006 Indy Racing League championship.
"It's 15 years of hard work. I was crying as I crossed the (finish) line," said Power, who finished 62 points ahead of Castroneves. "It's surreal. It's just a fantastic way to finish the season. I can't believe I'm the champion."
|Tony Kanaan gets service from his Ganassi crew. IndyCar's grand finale wasn't so grand after all as under 10,000 people showed up to watch. Instead of ending their season at Indy with a proper 'grand finale', IndyCar once again got egg all over their face on what was supposed to be their biggest day of their season.|
|Brian Cleary/LAT for Chevy Racing|
Power's teammate Helio Castroneves was second in the series standings. The Brazilian started the race from pole position, led in the early going, and was running in the top-five before a pit entry violation relegated him in the finishing order. He finished 14th.
"It's another second, but well done to Will," said Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "It stings a little bit, but it motivates me to come back stronger next year and win a championship."
Power provided Team Penske its 13th Indy car championship and the first since 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr.
"Tonight showed everyone the strength of our team," said Roger Penske, who has won the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race 15 times as a team owner.
Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports also entered Saturday's race with the opportunity to win the title. The Frenchman battled handling issues throughout the evening and finished 20th.
Juan Pablo Montoya, who led a race-high 85 laps, finished fourth. Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe was the top finishing Honda in fifth.
The win was the 17th career of Kanaan's Indy car career. It also marked the third win in the season's final four races for Team Ganassi.
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda): "It was a long day. I'm very disappointed because my hopes were really high and I was always believing it until I crossed the checkered flag. But when you reflect on the year, we fought against Penske, which is a fantastic team. Congratulations to Will and Team Penske for winning a championship and we've been strong. We've been strong every race. We've won races. I think we've done a fantastic job in the last three years and I'm really proud of the guys at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. It's been incredible. Of course I'm disappointed. I wanted to at least give it a shot or try but tonight wasn't the night."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet): "It was a very tough night for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing team and that is all I have to say about the race. I want to thank Kevin (Kalkhoven), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James "Sulli" Sullivan) for the opportunity to race with the team this year. I want to thank the sponsors, Hydroxycut, Mistic E-Cigs, Circle K, Plantronics, American Racing Wheels, GEICO and Hippino for all their support. I also want to thank Chevrolet and Firestone. I especially want to thank Steve Moore and the entire team for all their hard work. We worked hard and showed good pace a lot of the time. We earned two poles and won a race. We didn't meet all of our expectations, but we are building something here and I am looking forward to continuing the process during the off-season and next year."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 AAA Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's great. Talking about the team, obviously, it's great. I was pushing extremely hard. I knew the only way for us to get in front was through the pits and my ins and outs seemed to be working very well except for my last one and I got a drive though. So my bad. The AAA Machine and Chevy, Shell, Pennzoil, Verizon, SKF. Everyone. Hitachi, especially. Guys, thank you for a great season. I really appreciate that. Well done, Will! You are the champ, man, good job. So, I hope the rate in his house doesn't increase now, because every time I go and sleep in his house he charges me. But in the end of the day, great season for Team Penske."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers KV AFS Chevrolet): "Can't believe we have just had the last race of the season. Sad to say goodbye to racing for a while but really motivated for what's next. I'm really proud of the Automatic Fire Sprinklers – KV AFS team, we stayed focused and stuck together through the good and the bad times. Tonight we were expecting a little bit of understeer at the beginning but that didn't happen and we were very loose. It took us a couple of stints to get back to being competitive but then I was already a few laps down. The engineers did a great job to get the car more balanced and once it there I was able to get a lap back and start fighting and move up some positions, but it was just a little too late. The crew did some fantastic stops and everything went according to plan and I look forward to doing it all over again next year and having the chance to fight at the front."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "That was one of the hardest races ever. Oh my God, I was crying over the line. It just went on and on. I slowly made up position and the car wasn't great. But, man. Got to thank Verizon and Roger Penske and Tim Cindric. It's surreal, man. I can't believe it." (About the emotion of winning) "I'm so mentally exhausted now. I'm just so exhausted. My hands are like numb from holding onto the wheel so tight. Man, I want to be a lot more excited but I'm just so drained. That was just mega. I can't believe I won it."(About what happened in his life in the last 24 hours, 7 days) "The last 14 days have been the worst in my life, just mentally, just emotionally -just so bad. Not sleeping and stressing. I feel bad for my wife. Keeping her up at night, just bad. You never think it can happen until it happens. I can't believe I'm champion. I can't believe it."(About whether he thought it was over) "I didn't think it was over. Just knowing how things have gone in the past. God." (At what point tonight did you say we're doing to do this) "Actually, when I took the lead, I thought 'This is good. I believe we've got a pretty good shot here.' When they said he got a drive though I said 'Hey, this is it. We can do this. We can win it.'" (About celebrating) "It's unbelievable. That's 15 years of hard work. I started taking it seriously in 2000. That's just 15 years of hard work."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "Roller coaster race. Obviously the car was bad-fast early and we were able to drive up to the front. We probably stayed out a little bit too long on that stint and lost a little track position. Then we got the drive through and it just kind of stacked against us, but luckily we were able to stay on the lead lap and got the yellow we needed to battle back a bit. The UFD car was good on long runs, and luckily we had a lot of that today and had the yellow when we needed it. George (Klotz, strategist) made a great call on pulling us in early on that last stop and we were able to leap-from some guys. We didn't have anything for the top four to be honest, but to come back after the penalty with a top five, we're pretty pleased with that. Our thoughts are still with Mikhail (Aleshin), we missed him out there tonight and wish him a speedy recovery, and big thanks to all the fans for a season full of support."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): "That was hard fought. We kind of struggled across the board. We really just didn't put it together tonight, it was just a hang in there 500 miles but it felt like the Baja 1000, for sure. When you look at the season, not the numbers we were hoping for but we'll come back fighting. Thanks to my Snapple family and all my LA friends for coming out and cheering us on tonight and best wishes to Mikhail (Aleshin), get well soon, man."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "Disappointing night. I was pushing really hard on old tires under Tony Kanaan for second and the car just came around on me – just snapped completely and we went a lap down (after spinning off into the grass). I thought I had some suspension issues on the rear, which ended up just being flat-spotted tires from the spin. We never got our lap back, so that's where we wound up. It's unfortunate because the DHL car was good tonight… Another one got away. Was hoping to end the season on a higher note but, nonetheless, I have to thank all the fans for the support this season as well as everyone at DHL and Honda. We'll come back stronger than ever in 2015."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda): "With how we started the weekend… you know, we started nowhere, and we finished P8 and with a good pace. I had one problem in one of my stints; I had to stop in the middle of the stint, so that cost us a lot of positions. Anyways, I'm really happy with the car, with the finish, a top 10 in the championship (unofficial). As I said before, I was really worried coming into the race because we were nowhere, and then suddenly during the race, the Cinsay car was perfect for me. I felt the grip, finally, during the race; when you have a good car, when you feel strong, you move up."
On clinching Rookie of the Year:
"First of all I want to wish (Mikhail) Aleshin a speedy recovery. As a rookie this year, I think it was the strongest rookie field IndyCar ever had. In general, we had the podiums and everything and that was great, and that's why I feel really nice to be Rookie of the Year. As I said before, the competition this year was really tough. I'm just really happy; this is just the beginning, hopefully, of my career in IndyCar for many years. It's always nice to have this honor in your resume. I think we finished the season strong, so I'm happy."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "It was a long night. For us it was a long 500 miles. We got through it, secured a nice top 10. Good for our championship, solid effort all around. We had good pit stops and really hung in there as a group. We did what we could and just came up a little short. We didn't have great rear grip tonight. The front end was a little difficult to figure out. We had understeer and oversteer at the same time. It's hard to compromise between those two balances and it's always kind of a dancing act with which end of the car you want better. Tonight we couldn't quite get the compromise how we wanted it and when you have that you have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make it better, and that's exactly what we're going to do."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "It was a long fast race! I couldn't believe only 1 yellow for 500 miles–it felt long. The ABC car was fast, we just needed a little more work in traffic. The car would lose a lot of grip and I struggled. When I had clean air it was pretty fast and I could catch people and then just chip away at them. It was a good race for us. The mechanics did a good job–no mistakes on the pit stops so it was a strong performance for the ABC Supply team. Having qualified 4th I would have loved to finish higher but nevertheless we fought strong in these last races. We learned a lot this season–we've gone through many ups and downs. I'd like to thank AJ and Larry for making it happen. I think the whole team did a superb job this year! Thanks also to ABC Supply for their support and to Alfe Heat Treating for theirs as well. I was pleased to see my friend Will Power win the championship–it was well deserved!"
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "It's hard to believe this season is over already – it seems like we just started! I couldn't be happier for Tony (Kanaan) and Dixon on their 1-2 finish. Tony deserved that win and it's just a great way for the team to end the season. I wish the No. 8 NTT DATA Chevrolet could've finished higher, but a top-10 finish in a series this competitive does mean something. It's been a great year for NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing and I'm so proud to be a part of this team."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): "I have to give a lot of credit to the entire Chip Ganassi Racing team, especially Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. They were able to really come together and rebound from our incident last night. I knew from the first lap that the car was going to be really good. I got caught out in the dirty air and hit the wall lightly in the middle of the race. That put us behind a little, but we were able to fight back as a team and finish in 12th. After the night we had last night, I'd say that's pretty good. Congratulations to Tony and Scott on the 1-2 finish."
|Kanaan scored his first win for Ganassi racing|
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): "It's been a long time coming. Chip gave me the opportunity. Target, 25-year anniversary this year and I'm so glad I did it. Chevrolet and all the sponsors. Finally. We had a team meeting this afternoon and Chip says, 'if you win the last race you get brag about it for seven months.' So, I went ahead and did it. So, great team effort, 1, 2. Great pit stops. The boys did great and what an awesome feeling man. It's been a long time coming. We had close calls this year and I'm just glad. You know we have a tradition in the shop that the winner gets a picture on the wall and I finally got one."
What does your record in the last 1.5 months show, moving into next season?: "I think it shows our potential. We turned the situation around and the team got the grip with what we needed it to do. We had good momentum. Obviously, next year, it's a whole new ball game with the new aero kits and stuff but we have a great team here and a great group of guys . This is how a team works. When we struggle people think that we're nowhere and we go out there and we win three races this year and six podiums. It's a great team effort."
About driving the 10 Car: "It was very emotional. Obviously this 10 car has a lot of history so I didn't want to go winless, you know, just because it's tradition. So I told Dario, this win, I dedicate that for him. Obviously, if it wasn't for Chip and Dario having been forced to retire I wouldn't be driving this car right now so I'm really proud of it and it's going to be a hell of a night, I can tell you that."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "It wasn't the easiest of nights for me and the Boy Scouts of America car. I just didn't have the pace to keep up during the first stint and I fell back quite a bit. After our first stop the car was better balanced. We were just hoping for a caution so we could get back into contention and gain back some of the track position. When the yellow came we got back on the lead lap but I had lost the pace and fell back again after the restart. The balance was really all over the place from stop to stop tonight and it cost us from fighting for a top 10 finish. The team did a good job and really tried everything in their power to give me a competitive car but it just wasn't meant to be tonight. Hopefully we can just keep working and try to get better and better."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "I was pretty upset with the lapped guys tonight. We were trying to race for the win and they just wouldn't move even when they are several laps down. Where was the blue flag? I just don't get it. On the final restart, I got a good start and I got in the hunt with Helio (Castroneves), Will (Power) and Scott (Dixon). But as the laps went on and we had traffic, it was very tough to pass the lapped traffic. I know they are racing too. But we talk about having some courtesy on the track in the meetings. Oh well, we got back on the Fuzzy's Vodka 19th Hole Victory Lane for the third straight year in the Fuzzy's Chevy. It's a good way to finish the season. That penalty hurt us too. The pit speed limiter didn't work on the third stop and we were too fast I guess. And the limiter didn't work the rest of the race and I had to read the speed into the pit until the end. It was a hard race tonight and I feel like we fought back from a lot of stuff. The Ganassi guys were fast at the end. We had a better pace in the end of the stints though. But I couldn't get to them in that last stint. Overall, ECR team was just sensational throughout the year. I'm very proud of them."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): "It's disappointing in some ways because we started the season so slow. Not slow, but we didn't really collect the points we needed and had a few issues so it's always nice to end the season on a high. After such a bad year I guess we ended up not too bad, but as Chip said in the meeting before the race 'let's end on a high so we can carry that momentum through the winter' and there's lots of happy Target teams faces tonight. Congratulations obviously to TK. I think he should have probably won at Pocono and Iowa."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): "It was a frustrating race. I don't know what happened. The team thinks there might be something wrong in the right rear of the car like an upright or a bearing started to go. The car was pretty good for three stints and all of a sudden it was just looser than it should be. We put 100 pounds of right front wing in and did everything we could to get it to understeer. It was really, really frustrating. We wanted to give the National Guard something to be proud of tonight. We have to thank the National Guard in INDYCAR racing and motorsports in general. It's a shame that it ended this way but we were very lucky to have had them in the series as long as we've had and we can't thank them enough."
|4||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||250||7.9238||0.6185||6||85||2||Chevy||586|
|11||25||Marco Andretti||249||1 LAPS||4.9692||7||1||18||Honda||463|
|12||83||Charlie Kimball||249||1 LAPS||3.9030||7||0||6||Chevy||402|
|13||19||Justin Wilson||249||1 LAPS||0.7590||7||0||16||Honda||395|
|14||3||Helio Castroneves||249||1 LAPS||4.6561||7||41||1||Chevy||609|
|15||98||Jack Hawksworth||249||1 LAPS||21.5617||7||0||17||Honda||366|
|16||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||248||2 LAPS||9.1597||7||26||9||Honda||563|
|17||17||Sebastian Saavedra||248||2 LAPS||3.2421||7||0||20||Chevy||291|
|18||11||Sebastien Bourdais||245||5 LAPS||2 LAPS||8||0||15||Chevy||461|
|19||15||Graham Rahal||244||6 LAPS||1 LAPS||9||0||10||Honda||345|
|20||77||Simon Pagenaud||243||7 LAPS||1 LAPS||7||0||13||Honda||565|
|21||18||Carlos Huertas||21||5 LAPS||3 LAPS||1||0||22||Honda||314|
|22||7||Mikhail Aleshin||—||1 LAPS||—||0||0||8||Honda||380|
Winners average speed: 196.111
Time of Race: 02:32:58.4659
Margin of victory: 3.6750
Cautions: 1 for 12 laps
Lead changes: 17 among 9 drivers
Montoya 6- 33
Point Standings: Power 671, Castroneves 609, Dixon 604, Montoya 586, Pagenaud 565, Hunter-Reay 563, Kanaan 544, Munoz 483, Andretti 463, Bourdais 461