The ebbing and flowing of the exciting 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship battle swung back towards Simon Pagenaud at the Watkins Glen International after title rival Will Power crashed out after a clash with Charlie Kimball.
Power had already been caught out by a caution period that saw him drop down from a position near the front to the midfield, but when Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kimball got a run on the Team Penske driver as they headed towards the back straight, the two banged wheels, sending Power into the barriers and ending his afternoon.
“It was a disappointing end to the day,” admitted Power. “The Verizon Chevrolet was driving great. I have no idea if we had anything for (Scott) Dixon or not.
“We caught a bad break and mixed it up with Kimball a little and had no chance after that.”
For Pagenaud, his seventh place finish means it is now a straight fight between himself and Power for the title at Sonoma later this month, although it was a tight run thing at Watkins Glen after a stint of extreme fuel saving meant his final laps were sufficiently slow enough to make it to the end.
“It was a pretty eventful day in the HPE Chevrolet,” said Pagenaud. “The last caution made it so the guys in front had to save a lot of fuel, and we didn’t save enough at the start of the stint and were very slow.
“We made it back in seventh and for the championship the day was very good. We collected a lot of points and we have a bit of a cushion going into Sonoma. We still have to race hard, but it’s going to be a lot more comfortable.”