Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hunter-Reay captures IndyCar title after Power wrecks

FONTANA, Calif. — Ryan Hunter-Reay put the American flag back atop the IndyCar podium by snatching the championship away from Will Power in the season finale.

Power, denied for a third consecutive year, was in street clothes watching Saturday night's finish on television after crashing out early in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. His exit from the race meant Hunter-Reay, who entered the race trailing Power by 17 points, had to finish fifth or better to claim his first championship in a major series.

He wound up fourth — becoming the first American since Sam Hornish in 2006 to win the title — but it certainly wasn't easy.

Hunter-Reay struggled all week at California, even wrecking in Wednesday's open test session, and was off at the start of the race. But he picked his way through the field and was on the edge of where he needed to finish as the laps wound down.

Still, a flurry of late cautions made for some hair-raising restarts and a late red-flag that drew the ire or team owner Michael Andretti. Hunter-Reay managed to hang on in a race that was won by Ed Carpenter, another American.

"I raced for my life. I cannot believe we are IndyCar champions. I cannot believe this," Hunter-Reay said. "My dream has come true."

Power, an Australian who has finished second in the points three years in a row, visited Hunter-Reay after the finish.

"At the end of the day, Hunter-Reay is a deserving champion, a real fighter," Power said. "I've lost the championship three years in a row. I feel bad for Penske Racing."

Power crashed 55 laps into the race, spinning hard into the outside wall when his car slipped in a seam in the track as he raced side-by-side with Hunter-Reay. It was the third consecutive year Power has gone into the finale with the title on the line and had an incident snatch away his chances.

He brushed the wall at Homestead in 2011 and lost the title by five points to Dario Franchitti. Last year, his points lead was gobbled up when another car hit him on pit road in the penultimate race, and he was involved in the 15-car accident that killed Dan Wheldon in the finale.

Power broke his back in that accident in Las Vegas.

"Man, depressing," Power said after leaving the wreck. "I wish I could care less."

Power laughed nervously, searching and failing to find the right words to describe his frustration.

"I don't know what to say. It's depressing," he said. "Depressing to lose the championship again that way. Nothing I can say, mate, it's just depressing. I don't know what emotion to even feel right now."

But his Penske team, which has not won a championship since Hornish in 2006, worked furiously to get his car back on the track so he could turn 12 laps and gain more points in the standings. Power had already changed into street clothes, rushed back into his firesuit, and had a total change of attitude when he got back in the car.

"Keep our fingers crossed," he smiled, his mood completely changed.

Both Power and Hunter-Reay went into the race seeking their first career title, and Power said he watched on TV the closing laps unsure how it would end.

"You never give up hope," he said. "I was thinking anything is possible in IndyCar. Anything can happen."

Hunter-Reay captures IndyCar title after Power wrecks 09/16/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 16, 2012 1:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.