One year ago, Team Penske driver Will Power thought his racing career had come to a sudden and horrific end. Cresting a hill at Infineon Raceway, Power was unaware that Nelson Phillippe’s disabled car blocked the track ahead. Power hit Phillipe broadside at triple digit speeds, breaking his back in two places in the process.
Fast forward to the 2011 IndyCar season, where Will Power has made a remarkable comeback for Penske Racing. Even before this weekend’s green flag dropped, Power had amassed enough points to be crowned the 2011 IndyCar Road Course Champion. He currently sits atop the overall points lead for the series, but will face stiff competition from Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing on the remaining four oval track races.
Power had a weekend to remember, given the events of just last year. He qualified on pole position and led laps one through fifty five, before conceding the lead to Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his second pit stop. Power retook the lead on lap 58, then held off a last minute charge from Dixon to win by less than a one second margin of victory. Dixon’s teammate, Dario Franchitti, rounded out the last podium spot.
The race was relatively uneventful, except for a bizarre incident involving veteran racer Dan Wheldon at the start. Coming off the last corner of the warm-up lap, Wheldon touched wheels with rookie Bertrand Baguett. The impact drove Wheldon into a retaining wall, causing his car to flip and slide down the track upside down on its roll hoop. The bizarre incident wrecked Wheldon’s car, but left the driver uninjured. Wheldon sits in tenth position in the driver championship standings, with little hope of moving up in the final four races.