Will Power’s hopes for a second consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series championship took a big hit after being involved in a late-race wreck in Saturday’s MAV TV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
With 10 laps to go in the 250-lap event, Power was running in fourth place and on the outside of a three-car pack when Takuma Sato – in the middle and running sixth – made contact with the inside car and fifth-place ride of Scott Dixon.
Sato bounced off Dixon’s car and into Power’s, sending the two cars into the outside retaining wall. Dixon, meanwhile, was able to motor on.
The wreck was on the frontstretch, at a speed well over 200 mph.
Neither driver was injured and both climbed from their cars without incident.
Team Penske strategist Tim Cindric told NBCSN that this was not the style of racing that he expected.
“I don’t think you can say that was anybody’s fault there,” Cindric said. “It’s really disappointing because we all sat down with IndyCar after Las Vegas and discussed the fact we could never have another race like we had there, in terms of the pack racing that goes on or used to go on in IndyCar. Why we’re here doing that today, I have no idea. Fortunately, these guys are okay.
“It was very obvious to us from the first practice that this was the way it was going to be. We voiced our concerns, the drivers voiced our concerns. … I’m sure it’s fun to watch, but running open-wheel cars like this is very difficult.”
Team owner A.J. Foyt, who owns Sato’s car, had a different perspective.
“We had a great car today, (Sato) did a great job of driving it, but it just wasn’t our day,” Foyt said. “I enjoyed this type of racing when I was doing it.
“It’s not that much fun watching, but I think it’s great racing. At least you can race. When you can race, you can race. … That’s just racing. It just wasn’t our day.”
Power sounded off to NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis.
“I’m just glad Ryan looks like he’s OK,” he said. “What are we doing? That was a Vegas situation. I’m so happy no one is hurt. It’s crazy. We don’t need another situation like Vegas.”