Thursday, September 20, 2012 16:11
Unbelievable in Fontana The 2012 IndyCar finale was to be an epic struggle between a snarling underdog and a snake bit champion in waiting. Championship leader Will Power was being pursued by a hungry Ryan Hunter-Reay for all the marbles. Both started deep in the field because each wanted fresh bullets in the engine bay. Neither showed any inclination to charge when the green flew. All Power had to do was keep RHR in his sights and the championship would finally be his…after crashing out of contention for two consecutive years.
All was well until Lap 55 when Power got caught out by one of the notorious Fontana seams filled with gooey black asphalt filler with the traction coefficient of goose rope. The ensuing spin sent Power backwards into the wall, nearly collecting Hunter-Reay in the process. Now, all the Andretti Autosport driver had to do was finish in sixth place to take the crown as the crestfallen Power climbed out of his crumpled car. It was over…again.
Giving up was not something Power’s crew had in mind as their driver headed for the coach lot and a change into civvies. Every Penske Racing mechanic from both teams descended on the Number 12 and repaired the crash damage in a manner Navy vets would call “****holes and elbows.” Power was summoned back in uniform to continue the fight. The pit lane erupted in applause as the Verizon Dallara took to the track, wheels akimbo. Power completed 12 more laps and retired for good, but the effort bumped the ante to P5 for the Andretti bunch.
Hunter-Reay clawed his way through the pack with the outcome still in doubt until 20 laps to go when Alex Tagliani blew his engine. Then Tony Kanaan smacked the SAFER barrier, bringing out a red flag. RHR was running in third, but lost two spots on the restart. He was saved when Takuma Sato crashed on the final lap, assuring the championship for the very determined driver and crew. Meanwhile, Ed Carpenter’s Fuzzy’s Vodka car claimed the win, the second of the native Hoosier’s career…probably because Robin Miller prophesied it.
I’m taking bets “The Captain” will do something at his track…the one that cost his team the championship. Any takers?
Sweet Home Chicago It was anybody’s guess who was going to win the 2012 Sprint Cup as the sun rose half a country away in Joliet, Ill. on Sunday. Several drivers have demonstrated they have the speed and mojo to win the 10-race shootout. All the Hendrick drivers made the chase, including “Five-Time” Jimmie Johnson and Big Daddy Jeff Gordon, who eeked out the second wild card spot at Richmond. Gordon’s hopes to even the championship score with his teammate may have ended with a crash on Lap 188, dropping him to 35th at race end. Gordon had just taken over fourth place when he smacked the wall hard. It will take a herculean effort and some bad luck for other contenders to bring the Cup to the 24 shop.
It looked like the race would be another textbook Jimmie Johnson runaway after he started from pole. Even though Johnson led the most laps, Brad Keselowski got the jump after the final caution to pull out a win and make his mark on the championship run. That said, it’s still a wide-open contest as Hendrick teammates Kahne and Earnhardt still have a fighting chance. Let’s not forget a certain Mr. Stewart or the guys from Roush Fenway or Michael Waltrip Racing. This has all the makings of the best chase yet.