FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was shaping up to be a shootout between Ed Carpenter and Will Power under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway following the final round of service stops in the Firestone 600. That is until Power lost his weapon.
Power, the Verizon P1 Award winner in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, led more than half of the 248-lap race on the 1.455-mile, high-banked oval but succumbed to a season-long gremlin entering pit lane by not hitting the 60 mph speed limit. That resulted in a speeding violation -- his fourth in the past five races -- called by Race Control with 35 laps left.
A speeding violation figured in Power finishing eighth in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 25.
“I’ve got to stop making mistakes like that,” Power said earlier this week. “One potential win turned into an eighth-place finish."
Carpenter, who knows the heartache of a promising Indy 500 finish gone south, was the beneficiary. After gaining a 12-second lead over Juan Pablo Montoya on Lap 242, he held on following a restart on Lap 246 to win by .5247 of a second over Power. Yes, Power.
Race strategist Tim Cindric called in Power to pit on Lap 244 for fresh tires, and the Aussie overtook three cars on the restart to gain back most of the points he would have lost because of the penalty (12-point difference between second and sixth).
"I was really disappointed by (speeding) again, but what an awesome call by my team. It would have been a good battle there at the end, but to get the Verizon car second was just an awesome last lap," said Power, who leads the championship standings by 39 points over teammate Helio Castroneves. "One more lap and the guy with the tires is going to win."
Montoya finished a season-high third in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car and Simon Pagenaud was fourth in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car. Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon placed fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, followed by teammate Tony Kanaan.
Carpenter, who had led a single lap in his previous 12 starts on the oval and had a best finish of fourth, led 90 laps and earned his third Verizon IndyCar Series victory (his first since the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway) and the second for Ed Carpenter Racing this season. Mike Conway, who drives the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car on road/street courses, won at Long Beach in mid-April.
Carpenter is the sixth different winner in eight races, and four different teams were represented in the top five. The margin of victory was 14th in the 26 races at Texas Motor Speedway, which has 17 races with a margin of victory of less than a second.
"I knew we had a good car, though we left some on the table in qualifying," said Carpenter, who started fifth. "I love this racetrack and I've always wanted to win here so it's nice to come here and get a win."
Carpenter, the pole sitter for the Indianapolis 500, was running in the top five when he was involved in contact with two other cars with 25 laps left.
"We had the car to win Indy," said Carpenter, who led 26 laps. "I’m not saying we would have beat Ryan (Hunter-Reay), but I think we were the best shot to have a shot at Ryan. It’s nice to come back here and get a win. I’m really proud of the team two wins already this year. It’s a good year."
Carpenter will compete next on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway on July 6, while Conway drives the car in both rounds of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on June 28-29.
Click to download the hi-res Infographic