Track: Auto Club Speedway – Fontana, Calif. (two-mile oval)
Race: MAVTV 500
Date: June 27, 2015
No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Laps Completed: 241/250
Laps Led: 62
Points Position (behind leader): Second (-46 pts)
Recap: Will Power was racing for the lead late in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 when he was involved in an accident with Takuma Sato on lap 241 of the 250-lap race at Auto Club Speedway, resulting in a 19th-place finish. Power, who won at the track in 2013 and clinched the Verizon IndyCar Series championship last year at the Fontana, Calif., venue, maintained his second-place standing in the series standings, now 46 points behind Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Power briefly took the lead on lap 36 and maintained a position at the front of the field for a majority of the race. Power was involved in several battles for the lead with Marco Andretti and teammate, Helio Castroneves, in what proved to be one of the most-thrilling Verizon IndyCar Series races of the season. After Castroneves was involved in an incident on lap 136, Power emerged from the pits in the lead on lap 139. On lap 175, he returned to the lead, which he still held when the yellow flag flew on lap 191. On the restart on lap 200, Power was scored in the third position, but je quickly regained the lead during pit stops and restarted in the lead on lap 227. Fourteen laps later, he was caught up in an incident as Sato’s car bounced off Scott Dixon’s machine and sent Power into the wall, bringing an early end to a promising day that saw him lead a race-high 21 times in all for 62 laps.
Quote: “The Verizon Chevy team did a great job today, despite how tough of a day it was. When you have a pack race like what we had today, you have to take a lot of risks to gain track position. As exciting as it is, it’s intense at the same time. I’m just glad that no one got hurt out there and that everybody is okay. Now we move onto Milwaukee, which I’m really looking forward to after how well we ran there in our win last year.”
No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya
Laps Completed: 250/250
Laps Led: 5
Points Position (points): First (407 pts)
Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya held on through a series of accidents near the end of an exciting MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday afternoon to finish fourth and maintain his lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings. After starting the race from the eighth position, Montoya roared to the second spot on the fourth lap and looked to have a PPG Chevy that could contend for the second leg of the 500-mile “Triple Crown” after winning the Indianapolis 500 in May. After an accident involving teammate Helio Castroneves on lap 136, Montoya emerged from pit road in third place behind leader and teammate Will Power on lap 138. The current Verizon IndyCar Series point leader led for the final time on lap 188 while preparing himself for a strong finish to the event. On a restart on lap 200, Montoya was in second place, but when the yellow flag flew for debris on lap 220, he had fallen to sixth place. When the race was red flagged on lap 245, Montoya was positioned fifth in the running order. He was able to secure one more spot before crossing the finish line and earn his seventh top-five finish of the season.
Quote: “Honestly, I was not a fan of the racing we put on today. What I told INDYCAR yesterday was that we shouldn’t be racing like this. This is full pack racing and sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt. We don’t need to be doing this. It was a hell of a show and we did what we needed to do. We had a good PPG Chevy. When Will (Power) crashed and Helio (Castroneves) crashed, for me the goal was to finish ahead of (Scott) Dixon and we did that. So it’s all good and everybody did a great job again.”
No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves
Laps Completed: 136/250
Laps Led: 43
Points Position (behind leader): Fifth (-77 pts)
Recap: Helio Castroneves led 43 laps and appeared to be in contention to challenge for victory Saturday when an accident ended his day early at the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. Finishing in 23rd-place after the accident, Castroneves went from fourth to fifth in the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings. Castroneves moved into the race lead on lap five and stayed near the front of the field until the incident on lap 136, which involved teammate Will Power and former teammate, Ryan Briscoe. On lap 115, after being passed by eventual race winner Graham Rahal, Castroneves was caught between the cars of Power and Briscoe and spun. Briscoe received a penalty for the incident. The damage to the Auto Club Chevy was too severe for Castroneves to finish the event.
Quote: “Unfortunately (Graham) Rahal was coming up on me, and then kind of like, he really squeezed on me at the top. So, as soon as I come into position that I think I was going to, that I was about to push, I started lifting because I didn’t want to crash. I think we touched, and one lap before he was already squeezing me. And I’m like, ‘Dude, you don’t need to do that.’ So I’m kind of like lifting, and all of the sudden people are coming and start chopping, and (Ryan) Briscoe and Will (Power), they just closed it up. Briscoe didn’t have to do that. He just turned into me and as soon as he turned into me I was like, ‘This is a tough one.’ I’ll tell you what, there was a long ride of sideways. The Auto Club Chevy was unbelievable. We had a fantastic car. It’s a shame we have to finish like this.”
No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud
Laps Completed: 250/250
Laps Led: 3
Points Position (behind leader): 10th (-151 pts)
Recap: Simon Pagenaud won the Verizon P1 Pole Award – his first on an oval – and raced among the leaders throughout the race before eventually producing a ninth-place finish in Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. After leading the field to the green flag, Pagenaud fell back several positions in the running order as he preferred to let the race play out for him rather than take risky maneuvers at the front of the pack. Gradually over the course of the race he began to regain the lost track position as the feel for the setup came around to his liking. After teammate Helio Castroneves’ accident on lap 136, Pagenaud emerged from the pits in seventh place, but 20 laps later had raced his way back into the lead. During the red flag at lap 245 to allow for cleanup after a two-car incident which caused a lot of debris, Pagenaud was positioned in fifth place. He pitted under caution for tires before the restart, and raced back to ninth place before the race ended under a caution flag.
Quote: “The car was fantastic. We had great Chevy power to help us on this big track. But I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of this kind of racing. We don’t need to run in a pack at over 220 mph. There is so much drafting in those cars, you get lucky if there is a hole. You slice through the hole and you push people out of the draft. It is just not safe racing. That is my personal opinion. The Penske Truck Rental car was good, but today you couldn’t tell who had the best car. It doesn’t matter when you race in a pack.”