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Power clings to lead after savvy salvage work

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Perhaps this season is indeed when Will Power wins his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship.

Power escaped a dramatic blow – to his car and his points lead – and emerged from the contact-filled Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, still leading the championship.

In finishing 11th, Power lost just three points to his nearest challenger, even though he was involved in an incident which effectively eliminated Pato O’Ward and Graham Rahal from the 80-lap race on the circuit. temporary urban of 11 bends and 2.1 miles. .

The incident in Turn 4 was a bang-bang as Power checked for slowing cars in front of him. O’Ward couldn’t avoid hitting the rear of the Verizon Team Penske #12 Chevrolet, which hit Power’s gearbox directly. The damage was not visible to the naked eye, but could be seen whenever Power was forced to manually shift gears afterwards.

“When you get hit from behind, it cancels your shift, so you have to shift manually,” Power said. “You have to lift (remove the pedal) and operate the accelerator. So that made the day very interesting.

O’Ward took a similar hit from Rahal in congestion, ending his run due to a lack of gears. Behind them, rookie Callum Ilott, Dalton Kellett, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Simona De Silvestro were involved in the chain reaction to varying degrees. Dixon’s car suffered some underbody damage, but he worked through a major chassis adjustment by the #9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda crew and took the win, the 53rd of his career.

O’Ward said there was nowhere to escape the events ahead of him.

“I don’t know who caused the control,” he said. “I saw cars slowing down, (and) I had to brake. What Graham did to me, I was going to do to Will.

“Unfortunately, there’s only one way to look at it, and that was a big enough hit to probably break a gear or something in the gearbox. When you hit the attenuator with a big enough hit solid, that’s usually what happens. I couldn’t get it in any gear, and that’s our day.

And that could be the end of O’Ward’s championship chase. 24th place dropped the driver of the #5 Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP down two positions in the standings to seventh place. He is 59 points off the lead with just three races to go.

Instead of leading Marcus Ericsson by nine points as Power entered the Nashville weekend, he leads Dixon by six points. Ericsson’s 14th-place finish dropped him one position, but he’s only 12 points off the lead of the #8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Josef Newgarden is fourth after a sixth-place finish in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. He is 22 points behind Power.

“We thought it was a bit of a wild card race,” Power said. “There was going to be a lot of chaos, and if you can survive it for a bit, which we did, we’re still in a great place. We’re still digging deep, and we’ll see what we can do in the last three (races). »

Rookies are strong but lack results

The results do not reflect the performance of Rookie of the Year challengers Christian Lundgaard and David Malukas in Sunday’s race. Both raced in the top three before having trouble late.

Malukas was the first to get into trouble, his car crashing into the Turn 9 tire barrier hard with fellow rookie Kyle Kirkwood’s car crashing to his left. Malukas finished 19th in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 HMD Honda HMD with Kirkwood 20th in AJ Foyt Racing’s No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet.

Lundgaard raced to second place, where he was on the restart with 11 laps to go. The Dane looked ready to run over Scott Dixon for the lead when he started to slide. Scott McLaughlin skipped it on that restart, then on the final restart with less than two laps to go, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s No. 30 Shield Cleansers Honda was pressed down, dropped five positions and came back to eighth.

Paretta, De Silvestro Add Laguna Seca

Paretta Autosport announced Sunday that it will field De Silvestro in an additional race this season, the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday, Sept. 11 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The team has entered the No. 16 Chevrolet in three races this season, including Sunday’s race in Nashville. De Silvestro finished 26th after starting 24th.

De Silvestro also competed in the eighth and ninth races of the season, Road America and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Tips

  • Rain delays often reveal interesting things. In this case, Peacock Premium viewers learned that poleman Scott McLaughlin was opposed to spicy cheese. He took a bite of it while filming live with the NBC broadcast crew and was quick to react to its warmth.
  • Speaking of hot, Graham Rahal said Saturday’s weather in the race car was “the hottest I’ve ever been in a car”. Fortunately, Sunday afternoon rain reduced temperatures and humidity, so much so that INDYCAR removed the requirement to use aeroscreen upper ducts that channel air into the cockpit.
  • Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires points leader Linus Lundqvist of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing went flag to flag to win Sunday’s Indy Lights Music City Grand Prix from pole for his fifth victory in top of the series of the season. Lundqvist’s margin over second-placed Sting Ray Robb of Andretti Autosport at the finish was 7.2221 seconds. Hunter McElrea of ​​Andretti Autosport finished third.
  • The Lundqvist seed is now 95 points over McElrea leading the first of four remaining races, Saturday, August 20 at World Wide Technology Raceway, the final oval race of the season at 4:15 p.m. ET.
  • The event at World Wide Technology Raceway is also the final oval on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar. The first practice of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline will take place at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, August 19 and will qualify for the NTT P1 prize at 7:15 p.m. ET. Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network will broadcast both live. The race, broadcast on USA Network and INDYCAR Radio Network, begins at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 20.