By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
TORONTO — The start of the Honda Indy Toronto is almost always chaotic and for Will Power and Graham Rahal, Sunday’s was no different in the 11th race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season.
Power started 15th in his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and was looking at making up more positions than he had already done so at the start of the 85-lap race. While attempting to pass Rahal going into Turn 8, the 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner hit the inside wall when the No. 15 United Rentals Honda was already turning toward the apex.
That hit pushed Power into Rahal and Rahal into Marco Andretti. Andretti spun his car around and kept going with minimal damage to his race but Rahal and Power were stuck in the tire barrier, necessitating a full course yellow. Matheus Leist and Marcus Ericsson also went into the Turn 8 runoff avoiding the collision and fell off the lead lap as a result.
“It’s disappointing,” said Rahal. “Hindsight, it’s even more disappointing because we had a car that was really fast today. We legit passed, what, 10 cars without a caution today? In all, it was frustrating. I think he was way overaggressive for Lap 1. But hell, when you look back at Will in the rear-view mirror, you can damn near see his eye balls as big as a cartoon character, the size of the moon, you can see it coming.”
Power said he had a really good run on Rahal but apparently didn’t know that there was a car to Rahal’s outside as they went to Turn 8.
“We both went into the wall,” said Power. “Unfortunate, because I made a lot of spots at the start.”
Power was running tenth on the race’s last lap before having another issue at Turn 8. While trying to close a gap to Colton Herta, Sebastien Bourdais and Rahal, Power locked the rear tires up and his race ended in the tire barrier at Turn 8. His attempt to reverse out of the tires was futile and he dropped from 10th to 18th as the race ended under caution.
“The team said I could push hard,” said Power. “I had kind of been lifting to save fuel [and] just locked the rear tire in, lock lock lock and then I was a passenger. I feel so bad.
“What I was trying to do, I could see those three guys were battling hard and I wanted to close the gap if someone went for a big move and we’d have a chance to gain some positions.”
Power’s mistake dropped him another 20 points away from leader Josef Newgarden and extended his winless streak with Team Penske to 13 races, his third longest steak of futility with the team after a 25 race stretch from the 2012 Indianapolis 500 the 2013 race at Sonoma.
The Australian admitted post race that this would have to be rock bottom for his career. Rumors of other drivers possibly joining Team Penske for 2020 only add to the stress that the 2014 series champion feels, especially since he also is the worst-placed full time Team Penske driver in the championship standings in fifth place.
Power has an opportunity to turn his season around in six days at Iowa Speedway, a track which has kept Power out of victory lane so far in his lengthy career.
“Just go and focus, fuck,” said an exasperated Power. “Not make mistakes [or] get desperate. It gets frustrating, I’ll tell you that.”