By: Spencer Neff
June 6, 2019 | 8:12 AM
This weekend, the NTT IndyCar Series heads to the Texas Motor Speedway for its first of two night races on the 2019 schedule. Shortly after opening, the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval hosted its first IndyCar race in 1997.
With 30 races to its credit over the last 22 years, TMS has become the longest-tenured track (as an IRL/IndyCar event) on the calendar aside from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In that span, the track has played host to several noteworthy moments, from close finishes to historic feats and more.
For this week’s IndyCar Flashback, we’ll take a look at the 2014 Firestone 600. After a penalty washed away early-race domination, one driver nearly completed a valiant charge before conceding victory to a fan favorite.
Carpenter holds off Power following late-race drama
Late in the 2013 season, Will Power’s appreciation for ovals began to grow. After winning at Milwaukee and Auto Club Speedway, the Team Penske driver began to expand his prowess beyond the road and street course dominance he has become known for.
At the second oval race in 2014, Power again showed his newfound strength. For the second year in a row, the 2011 Texas race winner started the race on the pole.
By posting an average qualifying speed of 218.896 mph, Power earned his second pole in the last three oval races on the schedule. Alongside Power, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden equaled his best career start with a second-place qualifying effort.
From the start of the 248-lap race (20 laps added from then distance used from 2007 to 2013), several drivers began to make aggressive moves.
Looking to make their way up front, veterans like Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti led the charge. While Power held the lead in front of Kanaan, Andretti made his way to eighth in three laps despite starting 17th.
Unfortunately, Andretti’s day ended almost immediately thereafter. Smoke and flames began to billow from the back of his Andretti Autosport Honda-powered car. With the No. 25 stopped in Turn 4, the caution quickly waved.
Once the race restarted on Lap 12, Power again took control. In all, he led 95 of the first 99 laps in the evening’s race, with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya leading the other four.
After Montoya led during the second pit stop cycle, Ed Carpenter cycled to the front. Now an oval-only driver, Carpenter looked to rebound from the late-race crash that took him out of contention at the Indianapolis 500 two weeks earlier.
On Lap 121, the yellow flag flew for just the second time. In Turn 4, Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais collided and both drivers crashed into the outside retaining wall. During the caution, Carlos Munoz spun on pit lane, but was able to continue on with no damage.
With the lead back in his hands from Lap 125, Power continued to take charge of the race. After leading 49 of the preceding 56 circuits, Power found himself running second to Carpenter on Lap 183. 31 laps later, the points leader’s chances took a severe hit.
During the final round of green flag pit stops, Power was issued a drive-through penalty for a pit lane speed violation while entering the pits. After controlling most of the race, his chances at victory were in serious danger.
When Takuma Sato’s car caught fire in Turn 1 on Lap 242, Power got the caution he was seeking. During the yellow, he pitted for fresh tires to get to the finish. On Lap 247, the race restarted with a two-lap sprint to finish the night off.
The decision provided immediate dividends to Power, as he stormed through the pack. On the frontstretch during the last lap, he passed Montoya for second, but was 0.5247 seconds short of winning the race.
Up front, Carpenter had no trouble and earned his first victory since Fontana in 2012. In earning his third win of the season, the series’ lone owner/driver also gave his team their second win of 2014. In April, Mike Conway had won at Long Beach.
Despite a frustrating result, Power still held a 39-point lead over Helio Castroneves in the points standings.
Although Texas Motor Speedway had proved to be a hard-luck track for Will Power during the early 2010s, things changed as the decade has gone on. In 2015, he earned his third consecutive pole position at the track.
Two years later, Power led 180 laps and won a full-distance race at Texas for the first time. Six years after earning his first oval win during the Twin 275s, Power’s luck had turned a corner.
Conversely, Carpenter’s luck at TMS since 2014 has not been as good. In all four races there since his last IndyCar win, Carpenter has yet to finish one. During the last three, he has crashed out of the race.
Later in 2014, Conway added another win for the team at Toronto. Following seven top-10 finishes in the next 10 races – including a win at Milwaukee – Power earned his first championship.
In three of the last four oval races, Power has either started on the pole or won the race. On Saturday night, he will look to earn his first win of 2019.
Note: Thank you as always to everyone who participated in our poll on Twitter to select this week’s IndyCar Flashback.
There will continue to be a poll on our Twitter page (@Open_Wheels) to determine the race profiled for IndyCar Flashback prior to each race weekend. Keep an eye out each race week for the poll to cast your vote.
Header image By Chris Jones /INDYCAR.