Will Power didn’t just say it once on Team Penske’s radio during Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Road America, he calmly repeated it.
“Wait till I see DeFrancesco,” he said. “Wait till I see him.”
Power was frustrated with series rookie Devlin DeFrancesco following contact from behind approaching Turn 5 early in the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR, but fireworks didn’t follow. Yes, Power gave the Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport driver a hip check with the side of his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet after crossing the finish line, but Power was the respectful veteran after climbing from his car, a hallmark of what has been a more patient Power in his 18th season in the series.
“You can’t really do too much about it,” Power told NBC of the forced spin to the outside wall that broke his front wing. “He’s a young guy, and he’s made some big moves this year that’s resulted in some incidents.”
Power added that “it made my day way harder … (and) nothing I could do about that one.”
DeFrancesco finished 18th, Power 19th.
The two had tussled two corners earlier.
“(Power) had a bad run out of (Turn) 1,” said DeFrancesco, the driver of the No. 29 PowerTap Honda said. “I had a run on him into (Turn) 3 and I went to the outside of him, and we banged wheels a little bit. It was a touch of a racing incident, you know?
“I had a big, big run into (Turn 5), and he went to the inside, which he has complete right to. I went to the outside and then I saw him moving back over to the right, so I went to divebomb him (on the left) as I made that move a couple of times earlier in the race, and we made contact. I need to look at (the replay) better, but that’s what I saw from my vantage point.”
DeFrancesco said he was having “a monster day” advancing from 21st to 14th in what arguably was his most competitive performance of the season. He would have finished higher than 18th had he not been penalized for speeding on pit road on his second stop.
“We were making moves, slicing and dicing making those split-second late divebombs,” DeFrancesco said. “That one (with Power) didn’t pay off. I need to look at it more to see what happened. You could say I made contact with him, which I did, but from my vantage point it did look like he moved, but we need to look at it better.
“I did make contact with him.”
Power’s last lap also cost him positions. He said he got pushed off the racing line by Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet), and that resulted in his lowest finish of the season after finishing 15th in last month the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
With “500” winner Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) finishing second, Power went from three points ahead of the "500” winner atop the season standings to trailing him by 27 points.
“Not the best day; you have them,” Power said. “Just move on to the next one.”
Eyeing the Problem
Competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES can be maddening enough when a driver has clear eyesight -- imagine when he doesn’t.
That’s what Colton Herta experienced midrace Sunday when dirt got in his eye. That was around Lap 30, he said, and he was unable to get the left eye completely open. For about 20 laps Herta battled the issue before finally pleading with his strategist – that’s his father, Bryan – to come to pit road for relief. Bryan asked him to wait “a couple more laps.”
“What’s a couple more laps?” the driver said on the radio.
Herta finally got to pit road and tried to wipe the debris with a yellow towel. With only a small visor opening and not much time to work with, it wasn’t much of a success.
“That did nothing,” he said, laughing. “Now the race is over, and my eyes will make a complete recovery.”
Herta was pleased to finish fifth after serving a six-race grid penalty for an unapproved engine change. By starting 11th, he got back to where he qualified.
Odds and Ends
- Jimmie Johnson’s return to Road America in the No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda went poorly on the opening lap. He said he went off the track due to pressure from series rookie Tatiana Calderon (No. 11 ROKiT/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet).
- Simona De Silvestro’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race in more than a year – and her first permanent road course race since 2013 – went without incident, which is exactly what she and Paretta Autosport wanted. She completed all 55 laps and finished 21st in the 27-car field. She even finished ahead of two regulars on the lead lap.
- Meyer Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) predicted what happened to him in Turn 11, which is known as the Kink. Prior to the race, he spoke of how tricky that fast corner is, and in the race his car drive too far to the left and bounced through the grass. Fortunately, the car was no worse for the wear and he finished 12th.
- Ericsson escaped a challenging final pit stop when the hose from the air gun used by the left front tire changer got briefly wrapped around his foot. Ericsson stopped the car before running over the gun, which would have drawn a penalty.
- Andretti Autosport had a strong day, finished third, fourth and fifth with Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda), Romain Grosjean (No. 28 UniFirst/DHL Honda) and Herta, respectively.
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has had a difficult season, but Sunday’s race was better. Graham Rahal (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda) finished eighth, with rookie Christian Lundgaard (No. 30 Fleet Cost & Care Honda) 10th and Jack Harvey (No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda) 13th.
- Up next: The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the All-New 2023 Civic Type R on Sunday, July 3. Broadcast for NBC, Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network is set for noon (ET).
- Christian Rasmussen scored his first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race victory while leading a podium sweep by Andretti Autosport. Pole sitter Sting Ray Robb and Hunter McElrea finished second and third, respectively. Series leader Linus Lundqvist of HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing rallied to finish fourth.
- The second half of the Indy Lights race was held following the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race due to lengthy Turn 5 fence repair from Christian Bogle’s crash. Bogle was not injured as his airborne car went nose first into the fence.
- Braden Eves of Jay Howard Driver Development won Sunday’s Indy Pro 2000 race, his second win of the season and the sixth of his career in the series. Jack William Miller, the son of former INDYCAR SERIES driver Jack Miller, finished a career-best second for Miller Vinatieri Motorsports with Exclusive Autosport.
- USF2000 staged both of its weekend races Saturday, with Jace Denmark of Pabst Racing and Michael d’Orlando of Cape Motorsports winning.