RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600
THRILLING RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 DELIVERS MOST INDYCAR LEAD CHANGES IN SPEEDWAY HISTORY SINCE 2001 AND THIRD MOST ALL TIME
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 12, 2017) – Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway brought back memories of the frenetic, frenzied style of Indy-car racing that produced some of the most thrilling flag-to-flag races and finishes in the history of the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The Rainguard Water Sealers 600 produced 23 lead changes among seven drivers, which were the most lead changes since a track-record 32 in the fall race of 2001. The 23 lead changes now ranks third all-time among the 29 Verizon IndyCar Series races held on the 1.5-mile oval, trailing only that 2001 race and 31 in the summer of 2000.
The lead changes also were the second most through nine races the Verizon IndyCar Series season with the Indy 500 taking the top spot with 35 among 15 drivers.
Before Will Power took the checkered flag under caution for the victory, the race was shaping up to challenge last year’s record for the closest finish in track history of 0.0090 of a second when Graham Rahal edged James Hinchcliffe and possibly the closest in Indy-car history.
In the closing laps of the 248-lap event, Power and Scott Dixon were separated by 0.0010 of a second according to timing and scoring when they crossed the start/finish line on what would turn out to be the final lap of green-flag racing at Lap 243. Reigning Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato make a bold move as soon as the leaders passed the start/finish line. He dove low and caught his left front wheel in the infield grass that resulted in a multi-car accident that collected Dixon, Max Chilton and Conor Daly. The final five laps were run under caution rather than a potential red-flag condition for clean-up and a final restart to settle the race under green.
“That was crazy,” Daly said afterward. “I think the biggest thing tonight is that I learned a lot. That was the first time ever on an oval that I raced side-by-side or that close to anyone. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) we’re never like that and last year (at Texas) I didn’t make it through much of the race.”
“All the cars were battling for position and constantly moving,” Sato added. “It was an exciting race for sure, and I am disappointed it ended the way it did.”
Power earned the 31st win of his career – and second at Texas – while Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing was second and Power’s Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud was third.
It marked the first Indy-car race on Texas Motor Speedway’s repaved and re-profiled layout, which included reducing the banking in Turns 1 & 2 from 24 to 20 degrees and expanding the racing surface from 60 to 80 feet in that track section. There was some initial concern by drivers that there would only be one racing groove, but the field quickly showed that there was two to provide plenty of dramatic side-by-side racing and passes for the lead.
“It was a lot of fun,” Pagenaud said. “It got a little crazy at the end. I tell you, it is just incredible how close we can race against each other. Good fun, good night, awesome working with Will. That is Team Penske, we all work together, you guys don’t believe us, but we do and we showed it tonight.”
“It was just very intense from the first to the last lap,” Kanaan said.
POWER OF PARITY: Will Power’s win for Team Penske in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 continued a recent trend at Texas Motor Speedway of the powerhouse teams and smaller organizations alternating visits to Victory Lane. The trend began in 2012 when Justin Wilson was victorious for Dale Coyne Racing. The following year it was Team Penske with Helio Castroneves collecting his track-record fourth win. In 2014, Ed Carpenter won for his own organization and Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon earned the win the following season. Last year, it was Graham Rahal for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
CAREER DAY: Tony Kanaan’s second-place finish in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 moved him into a tie for career top-five finishes and top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway. In 18 starts, Kanaan (left, No. 10 car) now has 11 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 efforts to move him into a tie for the lead in both categories with Helio Castroneves. Saturday night’s finish was Kanaan’s fourth podium in his last five starts at Texas Motor Speedway. His third place finish now gives him an average finish of 5.16 which is now the best in track history ahead of Ryan Briscoe’s 5.22.
POWER SURGE: Rainguard Water Sealers 600 race winner Will Power’s race-high 180 laps led vaulted him from eighth to third in most career laps led at Texas Motor Speedway. Power began the night with 252 laps led in nine career starts and then proceeded to pass Al Unser Jr. (275), Ryan Briscoe (282), Tony Kanaan (364), Scott Dixon (365) and Thomas Scheckter (371). He finished with 432 career laps led for sole possession of third. Helio Castroneves is the all-time career leader at 506 while Sam Hornish Jr. is second with 446. Interestingly, 325 of Power’s laps led came in his two wins, the other being 145 in the second twin race in 2011.
POWER ON: Rainguard Water Sealers 600 winner Will Power moved himself into some select company by winning for the second time at Texas Motor Speedway. Power is now only the fifth driver to win multiple races at the famed 1.5-mile track. Helio Castroneves is the leader with four, Sam Hornish Jr. has three and a trio of Scott’s – Dixon, Goodyear and Sharp – also have two.
IT’S WHERE YOU FINISH: Will Power had always been know as the top starter at Texas in his career. He entered this past weekend No. 1 in track history in starting average at 3.55 in nine previous starts. He had also won the pole for the race three consecutive years from 2013-15. However, in his win over the weekend, he started from the worst position of his career at Texas – ninth – as he went on the win for the second time.
NO POLE IN VICTORY LANE: Will Power’s victory made it eight consecutive races at Texas in which the pole winner did not win at Texas. The last driver to do so was Ryan Briscoe in 2010. Prior to this current stretch, the pole winner had won six of 13 races from 2001-2010.
STANDINGS UPDATE: Will Power became the first driver this season to win on two different tracks as he won at the IndyCar Grand Prix last month). It was the 31st victory of his career, and he moved up from eighth in the championship to fifth (283 points) behind leaders Scott Dixon (325), Simon Pagenaud (313), Takuma Sato (312) and Helio Castroneves (305).
RACE RECORDS: A number of TMS records for IndyCar racing were broken in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600. Winner Will Power set a record for laps led by the winner with 180, smashing the old mark of 159 held by Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2007. The race was under caution nine times breaking the old mark of eight which was set three previous times – 1997, fall of 1998 and 2000). There were nine cars running at the finish which broke the old mark of 10 set in the fall of 2001.
A LOOK BACK AT THE RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600:
Courtesy IndyCar Productions
TEAM PENSKE IS TOPS AT TMS: Team Penske, one of the most dominant teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series, has a stranglehold on the competition when it comes to racing at Texas Motor Speedway. The organization, led by legendary car owner Roger Penske, has proven to be the king of the Lone Star State. This trend continued over the weekend after the victory by Will Power in the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.
9 – Number of wins at Texas Motor Speedway – the most among Verizon IndyCar Series teams. Wins include four from veteran Helio Castroneves (2004-F, ’06, ’09, ’13), now two from Will Power (2011-Twin 2, 2017) and one a piece from Sam Hornish Jr. (2007), Ryan Briscoe (2010) and Gil de Ferran (2003-F).
13 – Number of races all Team Penske entries have finishes in the top 10. Team Penske has fielded two or more entries in 20 races since 2002.
25 – Top-five finishes finish accumulated by nine Team Penske drivers that have competed at Texas Motor Speedway.
1,266 – Laps led by Team Penske drivers out of a possible 4,188. That translates into Team Penske drivers leading 30 percent of the time during that span.
CLOSE TO HOME: Both winners this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway have a close connection to the track.
Rainguard Water Sealers winner Will Power’s wife, Liz, is a native of Plano, Texas and Power has spent many holidays in the Lone Star State since the two have been together.
“Over the moon to win here,” he said. “It’s my second home and Liz is from here, so we spend a lot of time down here, so just an amazing feeling.”
Meanwhile, winstaronlinegaming.com 400 champion Christopher Bell is from Norman, Okla. just about 150 miles north of the track. As a youngster Bell would drive by the track on his way to dirt track races and dream about winning at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Texas is my home NASCAR track,” the 22-year-old said. “It’s awesome to be able to win here. My mom was able to come today. This has always been one of my favorite tracks.”
SCORE ANOTHER FOR BUSCH: Kyle Busch has shown a knack for winning as both a driver and car owner at Texas Motor Speedway. Christopher Bell’s victory in Friday’s winstaronlinegaming.com 400 was a win for Busch, who is the car owner of the No. 4 JBL Toyota. With the win, Busch moves to the second-winningest truck series car owner at Texas Motor Speedway with five. He is behind former car owner Stephen Germain, who scored seven truck series victories at the 1.5-mile speedway with driver Todd Bodine.
Busch has won three truck series races in his career as owner (2009-fall, ’10-fall, ’14-fall), while Erik Jones picked up the fourth of five victories for KBM in 2015-fall.
NOTEBOOK: The winstaronlinegaming.com 400 featured 10 cautions, tying the record for most in a race at Texas Motor Speedway. The last time a race featured 10 cautions was in the summer of 2011 during the WinStar World Casino 400…Matt Crafton continued his impressive streak of top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway following his ninth-place finish in the winstaronlinegaming.com 400. Crafton has now finished in the top 10 in his last 12 appearances at TMS.
ROOKIES SHINE: Rookie drivers Chase Briscoe and Grant Enfinger finished second and third, respectively, in the winstaronlinegaming.com 400. It was just the third time two rookie drivers have finished in the top 3. The last time two rookies finished in the top 3 was in 2013 during the WinStar World Casino 400, when Jeb Burton earned his first truck series victory and German Quiroga finished third.
The feat was originally set during the speedway’s inaugural truck series race in 1997 when three rookie drivers swept the top three spots. Kenny Irwin Jr. secured the win and was followed by Boris Said and Rick Crawford.
GRADUATE SUCCESS: Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Noah Gragson earned his first career truck series pole during Star-Telegram Qualifying Day. Gragson, who received his high school diploma during a special graduation ceremony held during pre-race driver introductions, set a new qualifying record with a speed of 185.134 miles per hour. He shattered the mark previously held by Clint Bowyer at 184.464 miles per hour. Ironically, the last time a rookie driver started on the pole in a truck series race at TMS was in the summer of 2015 with Erik Jones, who started the speedway’s graduation ceremony trend.
STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS
The Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Series made its debut at Texas Motor Speedway with two races on Saturday before and after the Rainguard Water Sealers 600.
Former IndyCar driver PJ Jones won the first race with series founder Robby Gordon in second and Gavin Harlien in third. The second race was won by Sheldon Creed with Harlien in second and Matt Brabham finishing in third.
By virtue of his second and third place finishes, Harlien was declared the overall champion of the series stop at Texas.
“I was consistent all weekend,” said Harlien, who earned his second consecutive overall weekend championship. “I didn’t get a race win, but I stayed at the front in both of them and had a good weekend.
“This was a different track than I had ever raced on before,” the Austin, Texas-born 17-year-old added. “It was one of the biggest gap jumps that SST has ever had and the rest of the track was tight and technical. I hope SST continues to come here so I can come back and win another one of these cowboy hats.”