Will Power of Team Penske was so upset with his third drive-through penalty since the Indianapolis 500 that he angrily stalked over to the IndyCar Officials Transporter trying to explain his side of the story. Power was in a fierce battle with Team Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves in the closing stages of Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway.
Power was running second to Montoya when Castroneves went for the pass on Lap 171. Power drove low to protect his position, considered a block, and then drove to the inside again for what IndyCar officials considered a second block.
Power was black-flagged by race control and forced to serve a drive-through penalty on pit road effectively ending his chance to win the race on the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped race track.
So once he did a rather short television interview Power marched off to discuss the situation with officials. By the time he saw IndyCar President of Competition Derrick Walker, Power was red-faced and angry.
“Calm down right now,” Walker told the Team Penske driver. “You need to calm down.”
After a five-minute discussion with IndyCar’s top man in competition, Power discussed the latest example of how he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
“We were pretty good today but unfortunately I made a mistake,” Power told FOXSports.com. “I was trying to let Helio go and he didn’t go to the outside. That’s why I moved over to the inside but he didn’t go. I’ve definitely had a lot of drive throughs and that’s not good.”
Power led the race four times for 69 laps including the first 30 when he passed pole-sitter Montoya heading into Turn 1. Tony Kanaan was the only driver in Sunday’s race that led more laps than Power – four times for 78 laps.
Power was preparing for a shootout at the end with his teammates but after he served the penalty, he dropped from second to 10th.
Power was convinced his latest drive-through penalty in a double-points paying race would bump him out of the top spot in the standings, but to Power’s surprise, it didn’t.
“Really?” Power asked. “I’m tied with Helio? Can you believe that? I’m still the points leader. That’s unbelievable.
“I’m loving these ovals, though. I was having a blast until the drive through.”
Team owner Roger Penske was able to celebrate Montoya’s first IndyCar win since the Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway on September 17, 2000 when Montoya also won that race from the pole.
If Power had not been penalized, all three of his drivers could have swept the podium.
“Obviously it’s a shame for Will, but these guys are racers,” Penske said. “You tell them, ‘Let’s keep each other on the track.’ But that was a little tight there for us.”
Castroneves believed it was simply hard racing between teammates.
“We were racing hard; that is the beauty of Team Penske – no team orders,” Castroneves said. “The only rules are don’t take anyone out but race hard. I wasn’t expecting anything different to be honest. We were racing very aggressive. The good news is what happens on the track stays on the track. I have no hard feelings about it.”
When it comes to aggressiveness perhaps no other driver in IndyCar is more aggressive than Power. And that is one reason he has become one of the most penalized drivers in the series.
“I actually let him go and touched the brakes,” Power said of the move that got him in trouble. “I moved and moved and moved and was heading over and over and over. He is my teammate. It’s another penalty; another drive-through and another really good opportunity lost. There you go. Once you get a drive-through penalty you are done.
“The drive-through at the end of the race – painful. It was a double-move. But time after time it happens to me and no penalty. The drive-through penalty – I’ve got to stop it.
“I’ve got to stop getting drive throughs.”
Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. Eastern Time.Helio Castroneves, IndyCar, Pocono, Will Power