Carpenter claims IndyCar win at Texas
Saturdary night's win in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway was his third victory on an oval after finishing first in 2011 at Kentucky Speedway and in 2012 atAuto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Carpenter was the pole-sitter at last year's Indianapolis 500 and thought he could win the 500 this year until James Hinchcliffe created a three-wide situation with Carpenter and Townsend Bell in Turn 1 that didn't work. Carpenter and Hinchcliffe crashed hard, ending both of their runs.
At Texas, Carpenter was having a fun run with Will Power when they came to their final pit stops. Both made them smoothly, but Power was caught speeding as he exited and that ended the duel. Power had to make a drive down pit road under green, pushing him back to sixth place. He couldn't recover, although he came close.
Carpenter only had to navigate a restart with a few laps left. Power came charging through the field with fresh tires he took during the caution created when Takuma Sato's engine caught fire.
"I got extra motivated for tonight," Carpenter said after the poor qualifying effort.
Power's penalty was his fourth in five races, but the crew brought him to pit road during the caution for the new tires because he already was in the back of the pack. He wasn't sure he could have caught Carpenter, but he appreciated the chance to do so.
"Ed was awfully strong; he's an awesome driver," said Power, who restarted fifth. "I was just happy to get back to second."
Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished third, criticized Carpenter for getting an illegal head start on the final restart, but Carpenter fired back about Montoya trying to lag back to get an advantage.
"He finished third, right?" Carpenter said. "Doesn't matter."
Power said he can't keep making mistakes. Two of the penalties were for speeding. The other two were for hitting pit equipment.
Power led 145 of the 248 laps in pursuit of his second career oval-track win (the other coming here in 2011). The best news for him is that he extended his series lead to 43 points over Helio Castroneves as the season approaches its halfway point.
Marco Andretti had the best run in the first three laps, jumping from 17th to eighth, but his Honda engine failed starting the fourth lap. He walked back to pit road with the back of the car engulfed in flames.
"This one's frustrating, and it's going to hurt for the championship, too," he said.
Tony Kanaan had the best view of it and he was fortunate not to get collected. Hinchcliffe, who was two laps down, had to work quickly to avoid hitting the sliding Bourdais.
During the caution, rookie Carlos Munoz spun without contact on pit road. Soon after,Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay retired with a failure similar to Andretti's, his Andretti Autosport teammate.
NOTES: Will Power has been at the center of three racing incidents in recent events, the most recent contact with Josef Newgarden in the second Detroit race. That move drew a penalty. Power didn't initially see the error of his ways, but IndyCar officials showed him video proof that he was out of control when he hit the street circuit curbing. ... Newgarden delivered the highest starting position of his three years in the IndyCar Series (all with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing). He started on the front row of the 2012 Long Beach (Calif.) race, but he got there as a result of the rival Chevrolet teams accepting a 10-spot penalty for unapproved engine changes. ... Indianapolis500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is on the verge of re-signing with Andretti Autosport, The Indianapolis Star reported. Hunter-Reay has been with Michael Andretti's team since the start of the 2010 season. That team has been the strongest at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years, and Hunter-Reay won the 2012 series championship in the No. 28 DHL-sponsored car.