Bizarre Gateway start with Kanaan spin; Power, Carpenter, Sato crash

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MADISON, Ill. – The Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Gateway Motorsports Park for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline got off to a rough start with a pair of bizarre incidents, after what looked to be an exciting kickoff to the race.

Following a pre-race fireworks display and with a near capacity crowd in the frontstraight grandstands, the start of the race was delayed a couple laps, and then it was delayed further when Tony Kanaan spun on a slick track at Turn 2, and backed into the wall. He pitted for repairs to the rear wheel guard assembly. Sebastian Saavedra also pitted before the start.

Once the race actually did get going it got worse, quickly.

Pole sitter Will Power spun in Turn 2, having lost the lead to teammate Josef Newgarden, with then apparent contact between Takuma Sato and Ed Carpenter sending them spinning into the wall in the aftermath, with Carpenter also launching up in the air, backwards, over Power’s car after spinning into him.

Fortunately after the chaotic ride both Power and Carpenter were checked, cleared and released from the infield medical center. But for Power, who entered the weekend 42 points down to championship leader Josef Newgarden, it’s all but ended his title hopes.

Newgarden took the lead from the Lap 18 restart.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.