Will Power furious with Scott Dixon, Romain Grosjean and Road America after incidents
Defending IndyCar series champion Will Power is known as one of the series’ most fiery drivers when angry, and Scott Dixon, Romain Grosjean and Road America felt his wrath Saturday.
After a tangle in the morning practice left him apoplectic at Dixon, Power took aim at the track after going off course at the end of his 18th-place qualifying run.
“This track’s terrible when you go off,” Power told NBC Sports Kevin Lee. “They do a terrible job here. So they need to pick up their game. Anywhere you go off, you almost break your back every time. I’ve done it a couple of times this weekend. So need a kick in the butt for this place.
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“Just pissed what Dixon did this morning just ruined our whole weekend. And just a terrible move.”
Team Penske scrambled to rebuild his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet with a new front wing and floor from the practice damage. The work was done in such haste, Power had to pit immediately after taking the track in qualifying and discovering a screwdriver had been left in the car that impaired one of his pedals.
“Everyone thrashed and did a fantastic job,” Power said. “We got out there, I did everything I could, man.
“It’s just so hard in this field if you’re behind the 8 ball. So man, frustrating because it felt like we were really quick this morning. Yeah, yeah. Just disappointed with what happened. Really disappointed.”
He then paused to direct his ire at Romain Grosjean, who also nearly collided with Power during the Saturday morning practice.
“And Grosjean is a piece of crap, if you saw what he did in practice,” Power said. “He needs a punch in the face.”
Power refrained from throwing hands, but he did toss some obscene gestures and a shove at Dixon, whom he approached immediately after their crash during an eventful Saturday morning practice at Road America.
Several drivers lost control while trying to find the limit on the 14-turn, 4.014-mile road course that was repaved during the offseason. The high grip on the new smooth surface has produced speeds that threaten track records, and the one-hour practice was stopped five times for red flags.
The second was about 20 minutes into the session after Dixon spun into a runoff area just before Turn 12. His No. 9 Dallara-Honda was crawling along while rejoining the track.
Dixon allowed Romain Grosjean to scoot past, but he then accelerated into the right side of Power’s No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet, which also was coming by at speed behind Grosjean. The contact sent the left side of Power’s car hard into a concrete wall in Turn 12 and also left Dixon’s car with heavy damage.
“We were on really old tires, spun going into 12 there, and I saw Grosjean out of my mirror after I recovered, and I didn’t realize Power was even there,” Dixon told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch. “Really sorry for him and obviously his team. Just a mistake on my behalf and feel frustrated for wrecking our car and his car as well.”
After exiting his car, Power made a beeline toward Dixon while angrily waving his arms. They had to be separated by AMR safety workers as Power briefly got a hold of Dixon’s firesuit.
Dixon said he and Power worked things out while riding together to the IndyCar Medical Unit (where both were seen and released).
“He was fine after that,” Dixon said. “Everybody gets pretty fired up, especially how tight things are at the moment. It is what it is. I just feel bad about the situation.”
During an interview outside the medical facility, Power inititally seemed ready to move past the incident.
“Scott moved abruptly, and I was coming,” Power told Welch. “It’s a very unfortunate incident. Nothing I could really do there. I just didn’t expect him to move. Such a pity. Felt like we had a pretty good car. We’ll rebuild it and see what happens there.
“Didn’t expect such an abrupt move. Not a good situation but these things happen.”
With qualifying set to begin in just more than two hours, the scramble was on for Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing to repair the drivers’ cars in time.
The crash brought out the second red flag of the practice, which already had been stopped for a heavy impact with the Turn 14 wall by Alex Palou. The points leader, who had turned the fastest lap a minute earlier, was unable to catch his No. 10 Dallara-Honda as he slide into the last corner.
“I was just trying to push, trying to see where the limit was and how fast we could go before crashing,” Palou told Welch. “Didn’t want to crash obviously. Hopefully, we have enough time. Obviously, the car is super fast. The guys are going to have to work quite a lot now. It’s not ideal. We’re going to lose a new tire run, but the car is fast. We’re currently P1 with one lap. We’ll get back on it.”
Chip Ganassi Racing nearly had a third car damaged in the practice, but Marcus Ericsson managed to save his No. 8 from contact after losing control in Turn 14.
There also were red flags for Turn 12 spins by Colton Herta (who had spun earlier but kept his car running) and Santino Ferrucci.
The session ended under a red flag for Simon Pagenaud, who buried his No. 60 Dallara-Honda in the Turn 14 gravel with a few minutes remaining.