AUSTIN, TX – The closed pit rule strikes again. Will Power was well in control to cruise to a $100k bonus on Sunday afternoon but an ill advised caution on Lap 46 cost him that opportunity
See, Power lost this race by something not of his doing. When James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist touched wheels in Turn 19 with 14 laps remaining in the second race of the NTT IndyCar Series season, it shot Rosenqvist spinning into the Turn 19 wall as a result. That would bring out the first and only caution of the IndyCar Classic at the Circuit of the Americas and in turn, it was the one that changed the entire complexity of this 60 Lap race.
Unfortunately for Power and two others, they had yet to pit at that point. Colton Herta, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay and everyone else had just hit pit lane prior. But, Power, Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon didn’t get down pit lane yet for their third and final time and that in turn cost them podium positions and potentially could have season ending implications.
Power, had led all but one lap prior to that crash and if he won the race from the pole, COTA was giving him a $100k bonus for the weekend sweep. He held a comfortable advantage over Rossi in that if the caution flies after his pit stop, then those two would have duked it out for the win.
Rightfully so too. They had the best two cars out there all weekend. Power, was fastest on the day on Friday, won his 56th career pole on Saturday and dominated on Sunday.
Rossi, was third, third and first respectively in practice this weekend and qualified second. These were the top best cars and they earned those positions.
Even Dixon came from 13th after the first pit sequence to third but all three were hurt by that yellow.
Due to the closed pit rule, once the caution flag waves, the pits will close. You can’t hit pit lane after. So, despite Rosenqvist not being in harm to them, they couldn’t pit and would have to do so under caution.
Track position gone.
Rossi and Dixon would come out 14th and 15th respectively and finish ninth and 13th respectively. It was Dixon’s worst finish since the 2017 Indy 500.
Power, well his day went from bad to worse. While pitting, his drive shaft went out forcing his No. 12 Chevrolet to stall. They’d never get it back in gear as he was credited with a 24th place finish.
This is exactly what he didn’t need. Power, says that the rule needs changed and that his bad luck from 2018 is back again in 2019.
Last year, Power had six DNF’s. Those are the reasons to why he wasn’t a main challenger for the title. See, each had their own version of bad luck.
In Phoenix, he was strong but tried to pass a lapped car and crashed. In Barber, he was running second when his car hydroplaned on standing water and went into the front stretch wall. In Road America, he started on the front row but he had a mechanical failure at the drop of the green flag. In Toronto, he was in a podium spot before being caught up in a wreck.
See where this is going? See how 2019 started now for Power?