Storm of controversy around Will Power continues with latest penalty (VIDEO)


At Houston last week, Will Power survived a dreadful pair of races without losing any points in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship chase.

At the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco on Sunday, he not only lost the points lead, but re-entered the IndyCar Race Control doghouse.

The first 158 laps of the race went green but after the race’s lone restart, Power made a pair of questionable moves on his two Team Penske teammates entering Turn 1 that ultimately netted him his latest penalty.

First, he made a move to defend against eventual winner Juan Pablo Montoya that cost Montoya his left front wing endplate, but the move did not draw a reaction from Race Control.

But a second move on Lap 172, where he sliced from the outside of the track to the inside twice on Helio Castroneves caused Castroneves to slightly back off to avoid contact. Power was called for blocking and served a drive-through penalty on pit lane.

Neither Power nor Team Penske president Tim Cindric were amused. See the below tweet from MoreFrontWing.com’s Paul Dalbey:

That penalty and another pit stop on Lap 189 to top off for fuel dropped Power to an eventual 10th place finish, despite leading 69 laps. With Castroneves second and the race a double-points affair, Power’s 39-point gap was erased and the two are now tied.

A somewhat speechless Power, undoubtedly frustrated in the heat of the moment post-race, then told NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis, “I’m sure Townsend (Bell) and them up in the booth will have their say on it.”

Both Paul Tracy and Bob Varsha had comebacks for the attempt. PT’s take? “They told me to call it like I see it, and that was a double move.” Tracy tweeted this after the race:

Varsha, filling in for Leigh Diffey this weekend and calling his first IndyCar race since the 2003 Champ Car season, simply said “It is what it is, dude,” when a graphic flashed up showing Power’s five penalties called this season.

Power hit pit equipment in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, got a pit speed violation in the Indianapolis 500 and at Texas, got a contact penalty for taking out Josef Newgarden, Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal in Detroit Race 2, and now had this penalty for blocking issued today. Surprisingly, Power has not been placed on probation by INDYCAR despite the rash of penalties.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver roster in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series. Next up in 13th is Carlos Munoz, who fell back to earth a bit after winning Indianapolis 500, then series rookie-of-the-year honors in consecutive years.

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 8th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 10.5 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 13th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 25 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 12.1 Avg. Finish

Munoz fell down to earth a little bit in his second full season in IndyCar, albeit not as badly as fellow 2014 rookie Jack Hawksworth, who’d switched teams and had a myriad of issues throughout the season. He won his first race in the rain at Detroit race one, which was well judged, but there were precious other highlights from the driver who has showcased “wow” potential in the past.

His qualifying fell off year-to-year and that was probably the single thing to pinpoint as to why the decline occurred, falling from eighth to 13th in points. What had been a 10.5 average in 2014 fell to 14th this year, and behind teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ovals seemed his strongest type of circuit this year on the whole. Like teammate Justin Wilson, he’d been in position to score what would have been his third straight Indianapolis 500 top-five finish if a late splash of fuel wasn’t needed. Sixth at Texas from fourth on the grid marked his best overall weekend of the year, and fifth at Iowa and Pocono were also fairly good results.

But whereas Munoz picked his spots well last year and delivered a handful of podiums, his Detroit win marked his only podium visit this year. He didn’t really make much of an impression and was more anonymous than not over the course of the year. His future with Andretti is uncertain for 2016.

Williams maximizes wet setup work despite limited running in Sochi

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With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.

Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.

Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.

“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.

“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”

Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.