A key moment in Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway — and possibly in the Verizon IndyCar Series title race — occurred on Lap 205 when Will Power collided with rookie Zachary Claman De Melo. The crash dropped the Indy 500 winner from the points lead down to third place, 13 behind Alexander Rossi and 36 behind Texas winner Scott Dixon.
Although he looked angry as he climbed from his wrecked Verizon Chevy, Power later told RACER’s Robin Miller that the incident was the consequence of a chain reaction of events and didn’t blame the Canadian, who was attempting to pass Power on the outside for sixth place at the time of the crash.
“The guys in front of me were saving a lot of fuel and completely lifting to try and make it and someone [Claman De Melo] went around on the outside. Unfortunately, the [Penske] timing stand was talking to me at that exact moment and I couldn’t hear my spotter call ‘outside’ and there was someone outside at that point.
“It’s just a bad situation, but something that happens at a track like this. It was not the guy on the outside’s fault. I didn’t know he was out there at that point.”
To add insult to injury, IndyCar indicated a penalty for avoidable contact would be forthcoming for Power over the incident, which the Penske driver conceded was a fair call.
Claman De Melo was similarly non-judgmental about the incident that ended a strong run for the Dale Coyne Racing rookie. After starting 21st, he fought his way into the top 10 by Lap 160, and was in the midst of a dramatic outside pass on Graham Rahal and Power when the Australian drifted up and into him.
“I got a great run on the outside in clean air — I probably would have passed Power as well. It’s just one of those moments. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose.
“I feel bad for him and I feel bad for me and the team. It’s a bad day but I think I showed my potential. It was a great run up until that point. To do what I did today — from second-to-last to get up to where we were, it was looking like a possible top-5 finish, top 3 even, I can’t thank the whole team enough, Paysafe and everyone. The car the Dale Coyne Racing team gave me was amazing. After a disappointing weekend like this, I can’t wait to get back into the car again.”
He won’t have to wait long, being confirmed by DCR to be returning to the No. 19 PaySafe car for the next round at Road America in two weeks.