Monday Racing Roundup: Power Wins Elusive IndyCar Title
The tears began flowing before Will Power even finished the race on Saturday night, knowing that the drive for a long-awaited title was finally complete.
With a ninth-place finish in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Power captured his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship. The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske machine had finished second in three consecutive seasons from 2010-12.
“I’m so mentally exhausted now,” Power said after winning his first Astor Cup. “That was one of the hardest races ever.”
Power led his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves by 51 points in the championship standings coming into the final race, a decent margin but not a done deal with double points available. And when Castroneves won the pole in Fontana and Power qualified 21st, another runner-up finish was a very real possibility for the Australian.
But instead, it was Castroneves who made a mistake late, assessed with a drive-through penalty after a commitment line violation on his final pit stop. The Brazilian – who ended up with his fourth runner-up championship finish – had been running third but dropped to 14th in the final accounting.
“When they said he got a drive-through I said ‘hey, this is it. We can do this. We can win it,’” said Power, who cried on the last lap when realizing the title was secured.
“The last 14 days (were) the worst in my life, just mentally, just emotionally – just so bad. Not sleeping and stressing. I feel bad for my wife, keeping her up at night. You never think it can happen until it happens. I can’t believe I’m champion.”
Tony Kanaan won the race by 3.6 seconds over teammate Scott Dixon, another good story under the lights in California. It was his first win for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, giving the team three wins in the season’s final four races as Dixon had won twice.
“It was a long time coming – and it’s big pressure in that No. 10 car to give Chip and Target the win,” Kanaan said. “So, extremely happy.”
Kanaan was the 11th different race winner in 2014, tying the open-wheel record set twice in Champ Car.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Kahne punches Chase ticket at Atlanta
For the third consecutive season, Hendrick Motorsports will take its entire four-car stable to the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Kasey Kahne became the last Hendrick car to make it on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, taking the lead from Matt Kenseth in a second green-white-checkered finish. Kahne got in via the win while Kenseth, though still winless on the season, secured a Chase spot on points.
“It was just an unbelievable way to make the Chase. And to win at Atlanta, it’s a tough track, a track that I love coming to,” said Kahne, who won for the 17th time in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I stayed really under control and positive throughout the race and the guys just kept working hard and they kept making adjustments. And at the end we had the speed again.”
Denny Hamlin finished third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Danica Patrick finished sixth, her best finish in Sprint Cup.
Jeff Gordon, the winner of the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com in July, continues to lead the points standings over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Fourteen of the 16 Chase spots are spoken for going into this week’s regular-season finale at Richmond. Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle currently hold the last two positions based on points, with Clint Bowyer and Kyle Larson being the only other two drivers who can clinch a spot in the Chase without a victory. Those four, and a number of other drivers, can automatically qualify with a win.
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Harvick rolls at Atlanta
Kevin Harvick dominated on Saturday night, leading the final 159 of 195 laps to cruise to his third Nationwide Series win of the season. He beat Joey Logano by .567 of a second in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
“This thing was bad fast from the drop of the green flag,” said Harvick, who won for the 43rd time in the Nationwide Series. “This is just one of those racetracks where I like the challenge of everything you get to do here.”
Championship leader Chase Elliott finished fifth and Ty Dillon, the winner last month at IMS in the Lilly Diabetes 250, finished ninth.
MotoGP: Marquez back on top at Silverstone
Marc Marquez’ winless streak lasted all of one race.
The Repsol Honda rider, who had won the first 10 races of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship season through last month’s Red Bull Indianapolis GP before finally being defeated at Brno, Czech Republic, promptly resumed his winning ways on Saturday at Silverstone.
Marquez, the reigning world champion, started from the pole and surrendered the lead early to Jorge Lorenzo, but took it back mid-race after a spirited battle with the fellow Spaniard.
“(Lorenzo) was so strong from the beginning,” Marquez said. “He was pushing a lot at the start and I was trying to save my tires a little.”
Marquez won by .732 of a second for his 11th win of the season, the most in one season since Valentino Rossi in 2005. He leads the championship standings by 89 points over Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.