Tony Kanaan No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet won his first IndyCar race this season Saturday night, making him the eleventh different victor. Will Power No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet won the Drivers Championship at the Verizon IndyCar MAVTV 500 race Saturday night on the two-mile Auto Club Speedway. Power, nursing an ill-handling car, dropped back from fourth, to finished ninth. He had started P20, and steadily charged up the pack, and led for a few laps.
This is the first Title for Power, who was runner-up three times.
Power said “It just went on and on and on. I can’t believe it. I’m mentally exhausted now, and my hands are numb from holding onto the steering wheel so tight. I can’t believe I won it.”
For Team Penske owner, Roger Penske, it was win-win no matter who won the race. Two of his drivers, Power and Helio Castroneves No.3 AAA Southern California Chevrolet, finished 1-2 in the championship – Penske’s first championship since 2006; and the third driver – Juan Pablo Montoya No2 Hitachi Chevrolet had the pole position, led the most laps, and finished fourth in the race.
Castroneves was a title/race contender until he fell back to P 14 after receiving a drive-through penalty on Lap 221 driving down onto the apron and then crossing back onto the racetrack. He went a lap down. That’s the pits.
Castroneves said “I was pushing it extremely hard. My ins and outs seemed to be working out, until the last one.” It’s another second – his fourth runner-up position.
Montoya said “Today we had a car to win. It’s great for Team Penske and my being with the team, I could help them.”
Power’s SuperFan, Brian McEnnerney, was in the pit for the race – he’s Power’s good luck charm. Power flew the entire family down to Fontana for the race. Young McEnnerney has been Power’s Number One Fan for several years.
Power never asked for an update during the race. He had previously said “As long as I finish sixth or better, I’m good.”
Kanaan said “Not bad for an old man. Finally. If you win the last race, you get to brag about it for seven months. Long time coming. I finally get my picture on the shop wall.”
Penske Performance Inc President, Tim Cindric, called the race for Power, while team owner Roger Penske called Castroneves’ race.
Mark Miles, CEO Hulman Company, said this season was “compelling.”
One crowd count estimate by a local journalist was 22,000.