Pocono, PA- Entering this weekend, Will Power had a commanding 39 point lead on his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves for the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead. He even led his other teammate Juan Pablo Montoya who was fifth in the standings by 116 points. He knew if he could run a solid race at the Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon then he would have a good shot at winning his first series championship.
But, like the previous seasons a mistake on an oval could be the thorn in his back for the title.
Power, started second and was running in the top four all day. He had himself in a position for the win in the end as did the other two Penske drivers. But, a costly mistake in the closing stages of the race ruined a Penske podium sweep and Power’s championship hopes.
Shortly after the Lap 165 restart, Power was racing hard with Montoya for the lead. They touched but never slowed. Montoya got by as Power fell back into the grasps of Castroneves as a battle for third ensued.
Power, then made a ill-advised mistake that proved to be costly.
The Aussie, moved over to block Castroneves with 27 laps-to-go in the 200 Lap race. It was clear and blatant. I don’t know what he was thinking to block someone like that let alone a teammate.
He would slow down enough to let him by but the damage was already done. IndyCar penalized Power for blocking as he had to serve a drive through penalty with 25 laps-to-go. It was his fifth penalty of the year and the most damaging.
He never was a factor the rest of the way as he still had to pit again. Power, brought his No. 12 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet home 10th in today’s 500-mile race. With Montoya and Castroneves finishing 1-2, they cut into his points lead by a lot.
Now, Helio and Power are tied a top of the standings heading to Iowa next weekend and Montoya moved up to fourth in the points and only trails by 55 points. It was a big swing for everyone as Power opened the door for the championship.
What makes this mistake even worse was is it was a double points weekend. That allowed everyone even more opportunities to close in. Talk about an ill-advised mistake at a bad part of the race in a bad race to do it in for Power.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. He’s covered both NASCAR and IndyCar action since 2010 and has been credentialed to many races around the country. He’s also recognized as an accredited member of the media by both NASCAR and IndyCar. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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