Will Power won race two of IndyCar’s Houston double-header although the finish was marred by a massive last-lap accident involving Dario Franchitti.
Franchitti remained in the wreckage until the medical team could extract him, however IndyCar has confirmed that he is conscious and alert. He was taken directly to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
The Scot was running behind Takuma Sato when the Japanese driver got out of shape. Franchitti hit the back of Sato’s Foyt car and was launched into the air and along the fence, causing tremendous damage to the Ganassi car and sending several large pieces of debris in the direction of a nearby grandstand.
Team owner Chip Ganassi, who rode to the accident scene on a scooter while safety personnel were extracting Franchitti, reported that his driver appeared to have escaped serious injury.
“He’s talking. His ankle is a little sore. His back is a little sore,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “He’s going to take a trip to the hospital, but he is OK.”
Franchitti was transported to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston, where he was found to have suffered a spinal fracture that will not require surgery, a broken ankle, and a concussion. Some 13 others were treated for injuries due to flying debris (see separate story).
Penske driver Power moved into the lead by jumping Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon on a restart early in the race (RIGHT), and despite Dixon’s best efforts, Power retained his advantage right to the end.
“The restarts are slippery anyway. But I could see he was struggling a little bit, having moments everywhere, and the apex at the corner,” said Power. “He had a big moment in [Turn] 3, saw that good run, and I went up the inside of him on 4. From there, it was just a matter of trying to keep him behind.
“I was pushing as hard as I could. He was still staying there. At the end there, when I went full, I was able to pull a little gap. I think I was a tenth or a couple of tenths quicker in the lap. So I was able to get that gap and win the race.
“I was very determined to get him there,” Power added. “I thought it was such a good battle yesterday between us and unfortunate we couldn’t finish it with the way the yellow was called.”
Dixon remained a little unhappy with the way Power passed him, although he gave the winner his due after the race.
“I think Power hit me. He swears he didn’t, but he said that before, too,so we’ll see what happens in the replays,” said the New Zealander. “All in all, it was a good fight between us. We raced hard toward the end, and he was definitely quick today. Congratulations to him. It was good to see him back in Victory Lane and good to see him bounce back from such a long ways on the grid.”
Dixon’s second place was still a significant result in the context of the championship, not least because pre-race leader Helio Castroneves again had a disastrous afternoon.
The Brazilian was handed pole position after qualifying was washed out, meaning that the grid was determined by the entrant points prior to the weekend. But in the opening laps, he caught too much of one of the bumps and damaged his gearbox. Dixon, running behind him, spent several laps being covered in oil before the Penske car finally lost power and came to a stop with a broken gearbox casing.
The team dragged Castroneves’ car back to the pits and managed to get it fixed and sent him back out, 28 laps down. He was able to salvage a point for 23rd place, but will go to the Fontana finale in two weeks 25 laps down to Dixon. The Ganassi driver just needs to finish fifth or better, no matter what Castroneves does, to clinch his third series title.
“When I went to third gear on the backstraight, there was absolutely nothing,” said Castroneves. “We’ve had great luck for most of the season. Now, in a weekend, everybody’s dream has become an interesting scenario.
“I will tell you one thing: this team is a testament to never giving up and I have faith in these guys that they are going to do everything they can to make it happen in Fontana. It’s disappointing; I have no idea why in two races we have gearbox problems. There’s nothing we can do; those things happen. We know we have a good car going into the last race.”
James Hinchcliffe bounced back from a disappointing Saturday race to finish third, the Canadian posting similar times to the leaders in the final stint, with Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais rounding out the top five.
The race was interrupted eight times by caution periods, most coming from spins or single-car accidents.
Simona de Silvestro, who finished second on Saturday, overestimated her chances of successfully overtaking Graham Rahal and Tristan Vautier in one move, and ended up putting both into the wall. The KV Racing driver was issued a drive-through for causing the accident, and Josef Newgarden attracted a similar penalty later for turning Marco Andretti around.
1. Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
2. Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
3. James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
4. Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
5. Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
6. Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
7. Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
8. Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
9. Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
10. Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
11. Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
12. Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
13. Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
14. Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 89, Contact
15. Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 89, Contact
16. EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Contact
17. James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running
18. Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 88, Running
19. Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 88, Running
20. Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 88, Running
21. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 87, Running
22. Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 61, Mechanical
23. Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 53, Running
24. Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 32, Contact