Kanaan upset about being blocked by Power at Texas
By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)—Will Power was busy trying to hold off his teammate from passing him for the lead on the final restart in the IndyCar race at Texas when he realized Tony Kanaan was trying to get underneath him.
That is when Power reacted, and made contact with Kanaan’s front wing Saturday night.
“Will just put the biggest block ever on the oval. … That move right there to me is unacceptable,” Kanaan said. “Unfortunate that happened because I thought we had a pretty good car and could have won that race. … On the last restart, as usual, I said let’s go for it. Then I did, and he overreacted.”
Kanaan had to make a stop to replace his wing and finished 11th, a lap behind winner Justin Wilson.
IndyCar officials gave Power a drive-through penalty for blocking. The series points leader ended up finishing eight, also a lap down, after leading 24 laps. It was Power’s sixth top-10 finish, including three victories.
“I had (Ryan) Briscoe on the outside of me and Tony took me by surprise. I feel bad for him because I ruined his day,” Power said. “We ruined our own day, we had one of the best cars out there. … I feel we could have quite easily won this race.”
DIXON DONE EARLY: Scott Dixon couldn’t hold on any longer after leading a race-high 133 laps.
Dixon had already given up his lead when he was passed by Will Power, and right after that - on lap 173 - Dixon was in Turn 4 when he spun and made contact with the wall.
“We just got loose. … For the last 10 laps of that stint, I was really fighting to hold on,” Dixon said. “I kind of got in the middle of a few people we were trying to lap and I was trying to get back up to Power there. I turned in and the rear just started to slide and I kind of dipped down onto the apron and shot around again.”
Dixon led all 60 laps while winning at Belle Isle a week earlier, and led 53 laps in his runner-up finish at the Indianapolis 500 before that.
LAST CALL FOR TMS?: With no deal in place for IndyCar to return to Texas Motor Speedway in 2013, Saturday night’s 24th race might have been the last for the series.
Texas has been on IndyCar’s schedule for 16 consecutive years, and its race crowd is second only to the Indianapolis 500. But the relationship between the series and track promoter Eddie Gossage has been strained lately because of a variety of different issues, some financially related and some over safety concerns drivers have raised with the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Saturday he made a point of not discussing 2013 with Texas until after the race, but said before the race, “We definitely want to come back if it’s financially worthwhile.”
Bernard added that drivers - concerned about the compatibility of Indy cars on high-banked ovals following Dan Wheldon’s death at Las Vegas in October - won’t influence whether or not the series returns to Texas.
“We want input from team owners, drivers, sponsors and fans and our partners,” he said. “I want to hear what their opinion is after (Saturday), but I want to also see how the schedule is laying out and what makes sense.”
Bernard has already announced a street race in Houston for next season, and said there’s “a tremendous amount of interest” from promoters in Austin. Gossage doesn’t like the series racing in other Texas cities, arguing it pulls away from his fan base.
“Eddie doesn’t call me and tell me how many NASCAR events he’s going to have, or how many races he’s going to have here, and it’s none of my business,” Bernard said. “My business is IndyCar and I think Eddie is a great partner, but let’s be honest, it’s two different markets. If you look at our crossover with the audience on ovals, it’s 67 percent crossover with NASCAR. When you look at road and street, it’s a different demographic.”
NON-STARTERS, OTHER TROUBLES: Simona de Silversto and Rubens Barrichello never even got off the starting grid because of engine problems.
“We have one update finally and then something like this happens, which is annoying,” said de Silverstro, who is the only driver still using a Lotus engine. “But that’s kind of how the whole season has been going with our program.”
Barrichello was in one of four Chevrolets that had problems. E.J. Viso, Oriol Servia and Ryan-Hunter Ryan got started and ran some laps.
Servia was coming off consecutive top-five finishes before finishing only 89 of 228 laps at Texas. Hunter-Reay was losing power and ran only 66 laps.
Including his last-lap crash at Indianapolis when trying to get past Dario Franchitti for the lead, Takuma Sato has now crashed in three consecutive races. He was done after 63 laps in Texas after getting loose on the backstretch and hitting the wall.
HERTA’S HONDA: Alex Tagliani has gone from being unable to finish races to feeling as if Bryan Herta Motorsports is capable of winning at any time.
“Since we got back with Honda, we are a threat pretty much every weekend,” said Tagliani, who started on the pole Saturday night. “I feel good, I said that our championship was going to start at Indy.”
Tagliana has improved in each of his races since switching, finishing ninth Saturday night.
After starting the season with Lotus, Tagliani was 17th in the opener but didn’t finish the next two races because of engine problems. He didn’t even complete a lap at Barber.
BHA skipped the IndyCar race in Brazil and switched back to Honda for the Indianapolis 500, where Tagliani finished all 200 laps and was in 12th place. He was 10th last week at Belle Isle after qualifying third.
GOING TO CHINA?: IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said he’s close to resolving both the August race in China - he has admitted it may not happen, and suggested an answer “could be three or four days” away - and whether or not the series will move forward with its plans to introduce aero kits next season.
Team owners are vehemently against the aero kits, citing additional costs.
Although Bernard has pushed for the aero kits and has deposits from three unidentified manufacturers, he seems to have cooled on them since a meeting last weekend at Belle Isle with the team owners. He cited the strong competition with the new Dallara DW12 through six races this year as reason to hold off on aero kits.
“This car has raced so well this year, is the aero kit that important?” he asked.
As for China, Bernard said he has an option if the race is scrapped, but it would likely become the new season finale. California on Sept. 15 is currently the scheduled finale, a spot it inherited when IndyCar canceled Las Vegas after Wheldon’s death.
“There is a possibility of that, I am not ruling that out,” Bernard said, adding track president Gillian Zucker has inquired about the schedule.
“Unfortunately, until we have resolution on this, I’ve been very careful. I think Gillian has done a great job promoting and I want to make sure she has a very successful event.”
SPARKPLUGS: The start of the race was delayed by a few minutes after a worker helping dismantle the stage used for prerace activities was injured. Track officials said the man was treated and released from the infield care center. … Fan Force United has signed USAC standout Bryan Clauson to drive in Indy Lights races at Milwaukee and Iowa the next two weekends. Clauson finished 30th in the Indianapolis 500 last month. … Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders was a guest of Marco Andretti. … The command to start engines was given by A.J. Foyt, whose call was, “Boys and girls, start your engines.”
AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer contributed to this report.