IndyCar » 27 August 2012
Briscoe pips Power after Bourdais crashes out
"Unfortunately Bourdais came right across the track and I had nowhere to go," said the youngster. "I kept my hands on the wheel because it happened so fast and that's when my finger got hurt. It's the hardest hit I've ever had."
Bourdais' impressive weekend was also well and truly over - to the despair of Dragon team owner Jay Penske, who had already earlier seen his other driver Katherine Legge retire with mechanical issues. The driver later revealed the severity of the damage to his own car, and how lucky he had been to escape serious injury.
"It was a very bad impact the tub is broken in two and the gear box pretty much went through my shoulder so it was a really bad hit," explained Bourdais. It's a shame. I feel very bad because at first I don't know what happened the car just refused to turn and it's my mistake for sure, it's me turning the wheel. I have no idea what happened."
That brought out the first caution of the race - and stopped the prospect of a third caution-free race in a row for the first time in a quarter of a century of US open wheel racing - as the wreckage was cleared up and the tyre wall rebuilt. Pit lane remained opened, which saved Ryan Briscoe from disaster. He had inherited the lead after Power came in and still had to make his own stop, and now a possible disaster turned into an opportunity in the course of seconds: Briscoe was able to make it round, pit and come out while Power was still stuck further back in traffic after his own sluggish stop, unable to overtake the lapped cars because of the waved yellow flags. Power had been demoted to second place, his seemingly inevitable anointment in victory lane now in jeopardy. He badly needed an outbreak of team orders to help him out, but team owner Roger Penske said while he expected the pair to work as a team, there would be no order to Briscoe from the pit wall - it would be up to him to decide, or to Power to force the issue when the two started side-by-side on the front row for the restart on lap 74.
Briscoe certainly had no intention of handing it to his team mate on a plate, and executed a perfect restart to ensure he kept the lead. But on the first run through turn 7, Alex Tagliani got over-optimistic with a wild late-braking lunge down the inside of the hairpin that was always going to find someone to have an accident with - and it happened to be fourth-place man Ryan Hunter-Reay who was tapped into a spin. Unlike Dixon on lap 1 he was unable to keep the car running when he tried to get back underway, and he lost a lap while the safety workers refired the car under the second full course caution of the afternoon.
It was also costly for Tagliani, who got a drive-thru penalty for causing the avoidable incident, but the driver to benefit from all this was Rubens Barrichello. He had been the best of the KV Racing drivers all afternoon and in the top ten for most of the race. Now with Bourdais, Hunter-Reay and Tagliani all eliminated in short order so near the end of the race, the Brazilian had emerged with fourth place immediately behind Dario Franchitti.
Meanwhile at the front, Ryan Briscoe was still firmly in command of the subsequent restart on lap 77. And with his chief championship rivals now running well out of the top ten, Will Power had little need to force the issue and appeared to signal to his team mate that he was going to settle for second place, quickly slipping into line behind the #2 even before they crossed the start line. Further back, Graham Rahal tried a move on Rubens Barrichello for fourth but had the door firmly shut in his face causing him to fall back, almost setting off a panic among the chasing cars caught out by the sudden manoeuvres.
There was yet further incident at turn 7 - Hunter-Reay this time being the offender as be tipped EJ Viso into a spin. Hunter-Reay got a drive-thru penalty for causing an avoidable contact, just as Tagliani and Castroneves before him. And there was one more encore at the same hairpin, when Oriol Servia managed to tap Mike Conway into a spin five laps again leading to a drive-thru penalty, this time for Servia.
But none of this had any effect on the battle for the race win. With problems creeping in on his push-to-pass system and apparent random engine cut-outs causing him to fall backwards into the clutches of Dario Franchitti, any thoughts Will Power might have had about contesting for the win quickly evaporated. He concentrated on getting the car home, and duly came to the chequered flag in second place behind a jubilant Ryan Briscoe - who promptly stalled his winning car while attempting a burnout on the backstretch and had to get refired before he could make it to victory lane to celebrate with the rest of the team.
"I look forward to drinking the red wine," said Briscoe when he finally showed up. "Great battle with Will at the end there. He definitely had some bad luck in the pits, but we were there all day. I'm really excited and I hope to be able to work on my burnouts a little bit more in the future!"
Tagged as: Rubens Barrichello , Helio Castroneves , James Hinchcliffe , Sonoma , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Dario Franchitti , Ryan Briscoe , Scott Dixon , Will Power , Alex Tagliani , Sébastien Bourdais , Josef Newgarden
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