By David Morgan, IndyCar Contributor
FORT WORTH, Texas – Will Power had it all heading into Texas, with an Indianapolis 500 win in his pocket and the IndyCar Series points lead, but both his race and his spot atop the standings went up in sparks after a late race crash on the 1.5-mile oval.
Starting the day up front along with his Team Penske teammates, Power parlayed a third-place start into a strong run in the race, consistently finding himself in the top-five for the majority of the event.
Running sixth at lap 205, Power was battling with two other drivers for position off of Turn 4 when Zachary Claman De Melo got a massive run on the group, taking his Honda high through Turns 3 and 4 and pulling even with Power as they entered the frontstretch.
Power was unaware of Claman De Melo’s presence and drifted high off of the corner, with contact between the two sending Power’s car hard into the outside wall and collecting the Canadian in the process.
Though blame could have been shared between the two, Power took full responsibility for the accident.
“The guys in front of me were saving a lot of fuel and completely lifting to try and make it and someone went around on the outside,” said Power. “Unfortunately, the timing stand was talking to me at that exact moment and I couldn’t hear my spotter call, ‘Outside,’ and there was someone outside at that point.
“It’s just a bad situation, but something that happens at a track like this. It was not the guy on the outside’s fault. I didn’t know he was out there at that point. We were lifting so much trying to save fuel and he went outside me. It was just a bad deal, but we will move on to Road America.”
While the crash was a blow to Power’s place in the points standings, it could be said that it was an even more crushing blow to Claman De Melo, as he had driven from 21st to just outside the top-five when the accident occurred.
Had he held onto the run he was having, it would have been his best IndyCar finish to date.
“I got a great run on the outside in clean air, I probably would have passed (Will) Power, as well,” said Claman De Melo. “I don’t know if his spotter didn’t tell him I was there. Watching the replay, I was clearly there. It’s just one of those moments. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose.
“I feel bad for him and I feel bad for me and the team. It’s a bad day, but I think I showed my potential. It was a great run up until that point. To do what I did today, from second to last to get up to where we were, it was looking like a possible top-five finish, top three even. I can’t thank the whole team enough, Paysafe and everyone. The car the Dale Coyne Racing team gave me was amazing.
“After a disappointing weekend like this, I can’t wait to get back into the car again.”