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THRILLING RAINGUARD WATER SEALERS 600 DELIVERS MOST INDYCAR LEAD CHANGES IN SPEEDWAY HISTORY SINCE 2001 AND THIRD MOST ALL TIME
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 2000. 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 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.