Team Penske’s Will Power dominated an ugly night of constant crashes, blistered tires and respect-free driving at Texas Motor Speedway. The 2014 series champion took the checkered flag under the final yellow of the event with his No. 12 Chevy as only seven cars were left on the lead lap. Ten of the 22 starters ended their nights against the walls.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan, who was directly involved in two of the crashes that depleted the field, recovered from receiving a stop-plus-20-second penalty and being two laps down to take second in his Honda-powered entry. Power’s Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud took third on a night where Hondas were strong early but had no answer for the Penske Chevys as the sun fell on the horizon.
“It was very intense,” said Power, who led 180 laps, earned his 31st career victory, and moved up to fifth in the championship standings. “I’m so stoked; shows you how good that Chevy engine is. This feels awesome. I wanted to win here in Texas and we did it. We’re coming, we’re coming.”
Pagenaud didn’t have enough to challenge Power, but did his best to play the role of tail gunner in the final laps.
“It was very much pack racing,” said the defending series champion. “I was trying to protect him, which worked out really well. It got a little crazy at the end.”
Graham Rahal and Gabby Chaves drove clean races, barring the lap where Chaves hit and nearly spun Rahal on the approach to Turn 3, as the two protagonists survived to take fourth and fifth. Marco Andretti, who lost a lap during a long pit stop to replace his rear wing, fought his way back to sixth on a night where stupidity and aggression were seen on a regular basis.
Only CGR’s Scott Dixon and Andretti Autosport’s Takuma Sato, who were directly behind Power with five laps remaining, had a chance to challenge for the win. But a silly error by Sato – one where he dropped his left-front tire onto the grass on the front straight for no reason with five laps to go – triggered the last caution of the evening which ended the race behind the pace car.
With Sato’s car in the midst of a spin due to driving off the pavement, his broadslide allowed the Andretti car to hit Dixon’s left-rear wheel guard, which caused Dixon to spin. Dixon’s CGR teammate Max Chilton, left with nowhere to go, plowed into the points leader, and thanks to Sato, second and third place were out of the race, Chilton’s chances of a top five finish were lost, and Conor Daly was left sitting stalled in the Turn 1-2 complex. Daly was eventually restarted but lost a lap and was credited with seventh. Chilton, who eventually made it back to the pits for a new front wing, lost three laps and fell to eighth.
Although four cars were involved, the last crash of the Rainguard 600 was nowhere near the biggest.