IndyCar Series points leader Will Power made a quick evasive move to avoid disaster just before his final pit stop Saturday night at Fort Worth, Texas, and held on for his first victory on an oval track.
Power raced to his third win of the season, and 12th career for the Team Penske driver, to wrap up the first doubleheader in major open-wheel racing in 30 years. He kept his points lead over Dario Franchitti, the winner in the opener.
Franchitti led 110 of 114 laps in the first race, when Power finished third.
The starting spots for the second race were determined by a blind draw. Power started third and Franchitti was 28th in the 30-car field, working his way to a seventh-place finish.
Scott Dixon, Franchitti’s teammate with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, was second in both races.
As Power was charging down the backstretch inside the final 10 laps of the finale for his last stop, he suddenly had to swerve toward the inside wall to avoid contact with Graham Rahal, who had apparently run out of fuel. Power got in with no problem, then got a splash of fuel and new left tires.
Power got the lead on the 39th lap after going side by side with Tony Kanaan, who drew the pole position for the race. The two stayed nearby for a couple of laps before Power finally cleared him and went on to win by 0.09466 seconds over Dixon.
Power entered the weekend with a 16-point lead over Franchitti, who cut it to seven points after winning the opener for his 28th career win. The margin stretched back to 21 after Power won the nightcap 171-mile race at the 11/2-mile Texas track.
The first race was on a blistering pace of more than 207 mph, which would have been the fastest in IndyCar Series history, before the Indianapolis 500-winning car driven by rookie Wade Cunningham, not Dan Wheldon, was involved in a crash for the only caution to set up the final sprint.
“I saw Dixie. That’s a guy you don’t want to see, especially with a side-by-side restart,” Franchitti said. “I managed to get a good restart, was able to stay ahead of him, and at the same time he was able to stay ahead of Will. That was 1-2 for the team. Worked out pretty good.”
Franchitti, who edged Dixon by 0.0527 seconds, wasn’t as happy after the second race, despite an incredible run through the field. With his starting spot determined by the luck – or bad luck – of the draw, the seventh-place finish could still cost him valuable points by the end of the season.
There was an abbreviated celebration between races for Franchitti’s 28th victory, which moved him into 10th place overall on the career list.
Kurt Busch had made it back-to-back poles, turning a lap of 171.579 mph at Pocono Raceway at Long Pond, Pa.
Busch’s only two poles of the season have come the last two weeks. He started first last week at Kansas Speedway, then topped Jeff Gordon in one of the final runs of Pocono qualifying.
Paul Menard will start second in today’s race and Gordon third. Denny Hamlin and Regan Smith round out the top five.
Busch damaged his No. 22 Dodge in Friday’s practice and was forced to a backup car. He is a two-time winner at Pocono and is sixth this season in the Sprint Cup points standings.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel won another pole position, outracing a pair of Ferraris and a looming rainstorm to record the top qualifying lap for today’s Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
The Red Bull driver, who has won five of the first six Formula One races this season, posted a fastest lap of 1 minute, 13.014 seconds after crashing in the first practice session. He was followed by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
“I just hope it doesn’t become a habit to crash the car on Friday and win the pole on Saturday,” Vettel said. “We are here to ride the cars to the limit. Mistakes can happen; surely it is better when they happen on Friday. But it is not fun to come back to the garage without your car.”