IndyCar: Despite miserable weekend, Power retains points lead

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Will Power’s weekend at Houston included: Two 18th place starting positions, an unforced error Saturday, a late-race mechanical issue Sunday, his first race where he didn’t finish on the lead lap, and two finishes outside the top-10.

It was not a great weekend for the Australian – it was nearly as bad as his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves’ 2013 Houston debacle – but yet Power retained what Castroneves didn’t coming out of the event last October, in the form of the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead.

Power’s Sunday race in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet saw him again roll off 18th, as the team missed the setup in qualifying for a second straight day.

But by the end of the first pit stop cycle, Power suddenly appeared third in the running order. He’d had a ridiculously strong first stint where he was passing cars almost at will.

However, a parts failure with just two laps remaining cost him the podium finish he appeared poised to gain. Power fell to 11th in the second Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston race of the weekend, after ending 14th on Saturday.

“It was a great first stint; we passed a lot of cars and got up to third,” Power told NBCSN post-race. “But it’s tough to fight that hard and not come away with anything. A part that failed on two other cars at Indy road race … rattled around, and it just failed completely at the end there with two to go.”

Despite his issues, Power left Houston with the same 39-point gap he had entering the weekend on Castroneves. Castroneves was ninth on Saturday and crashed out on Sunday after making contact with Sebastien Bourdais.

The crazy weekend that took its toll on the rest of the field meant no one driver was really able to maximize points. Only Sebastien Bourdais, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti scored top-10 finishes in both races.

Power now heads to Pocono next week, where last year he finished fourth and was the only Chevrolet runner in the top-five. The Ganassi team swept the podium with its trio of Hondas and Josef Newgarden finished fifth in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.