Power claims poignant Sears Point win
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, August 22nd 2010, 23:51 GMT|
Will Power extended his IndyCar lead by winning at Sears Point a year after breaking his back in a practice crash at the circuit.
The Penske driver resisted huge late pressure from Ganassi's Scott Dixon to clinch his fifth victory of the season, having yesterday taken a season-record eighth pole position, in the final road course event of the year.
In an entertaining race that saw the difference between the two Firestone tyre compounds produce plenty of intrigue and place-swapping down the order, Power was always able to control events from the front, leading by eight seconds at one stage.
But in the final stint Dixon became the only man all day to put Power under real pressure. The double champion passed his Ganassi team-mate Dario Franchitti - who, unlike Power and Dixon, was on the harder 'black' tyres - for second, then was brought onto Power's tail by a late yellow.
For the first few laps after the restart Dixon was all over the back of Power's car, before the Australian started to pull out some breathing space - although his winning margin was just 0.7 seconds.
Franchitti retained third ahead of Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who jumped to second with an early first pitstop but lost out to the Ganassi duo at the last stops.
Front row starter Helio Castroneves (Penske) dropped to fifth during the race, resisting Dreyer & Reinbold's Justin Wilson and Andretti Autosport duo Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Graham Rahal drove well to come through from 16th on the grid to ninth for Newman/Haas, while behind him Dale Coyne Racing's Alex Lloyd survived the day's most chaotic battle to take 10th.
Raphael Matos (De Ferran Dragon) had been in line for the position for a while, until he became entangled with Conquest's Bertrand Baguette and KV's EJ Viso as they tried to follow Takuma Sato (KV) past him.
Sato then got involved in a late collision with Danica Patrick, which left the Andretti driver furious, and ensured Lloyd could claim 10th.
Collisions with both Matos and Viso left impressive qualifier Simona de Silvestro only 13th for HVM. She finished between Marco Andretti - who ran second for a while on an alternative pit strategy but later collided with JR Hildebrand, ending the Dreyer & Reinbold substitute's race - and second row starter Alex Tagliani, whose Fazzt car fell off the pace as the tyres wore in the first stint. He lost several positions from his early fourth before picking up a puncture.
But the most dramatic incident of the day happened even before the start, when Dan Wheldon was sent rolling after wheels became interlocked as drivers prepared for the green. The Panther driver was unhurt.
Pos Driver Team Gap 1. Will Power Penske 75 laps 2. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 0.7432s 3. Dario Franchitti Ganassi + 6.6132s 4. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 7.8607s 5. Helio Castroneves Penske + 10.4594s 6. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold + 10.9095s 7. Tony Kanaan Andretti + 11.5246s 8. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti + 11.8938s 9. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas + 17.5019s 10. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne + 18.2069s 11. Mario Moraes KV + 20.2411s 12. Marco Andretti Andretti + 20.6759s 13. Simona de Silvestro HVM + 21.8239s 14. Alex Tagliani Fazzt + 22.4858s 15. Vitor Meira Foyt + 24.2879s 16. Danica Patrick Andretti + 46.1339s 17. Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas + 1 lap 18. Takuma Sato KV + 1 lap 19. EJ Viso KV + 1 lap 20. Francesco Dracone Conquest + 4 laps 21. Raphael Matos De Ferran Dragon + 8 laps 22. Milka Duno Dale Coyne + 8 laps Retirements: Bertrand Bagutte Conquest 65 laps JR Hildebrand Dreyer & Reinbold 38 laps Dan Wheldon Panther 0 laps