The racing gods haven’t blessed Will Power with a win since Brazil of last year, and after yet another dominating weekend in practice and qualifying, the seemingly snakebit Australian was done in yet again by circumstances outside his control in IndyCar’s 2013 curtain-raiser in St. Petersburg.
Power lost the lead following a lap 26 restart when Helio Castroneves passed him at Turn 2, but remained in podium contention for the remainder of the day.
His race was substantially compromised, however, when JR Hildebrand lost control of his Panther Racing Dallara-Chevrolet and launched over Power’s right rear wheel guard, past the Australian and into the barriers at Turn 9A. The accident happened under yellow flag conditions on lap 80.
“Yeah, JR ran over the back of me there, and it kind of ruined my day,” Power surmised to NBC Sports Network. “He was looking at his steering wheel; it was a mistake, it happens. There’d be bandages if he was going any faster. No one got hurt though. It was not a good day but we’ll keep fighting.”
The crew were able to make repairs and Power at least finished, but in an underwhelming 16th place after leading the first 26 laps.
Hildebrand was done on the spot and took full blame for the contact.
“We were getting ready for the restart and I was dialing my knobs back,” Hildebrand said in his post-accident interview. “Then the guys slowed up and I ran into the back of them. It was totally my fault. As soon as I hit him I couldn’t help from going anywhere. I’m super sorry for Will. We had good pace but I was just doing too much right there.”