Aug 31, 2014, 12:54 AM EST
FONTANA, Calif. – Will Power is, at long last, a Verizon IndyCar Series champion.
Meanwhile Tony Kanaan is, for the first time in 2014, an IndyCar race winner.
Power drove methodically but forcefully from 21st on the grid, which became 20th following the withdrawal of Mikhail Aleshin, up to the top 10 by half distance in the 250-lap MAVTV 500.
[RELATED: Watch the full race replay ]
Where Power made the move was for all the marbles came after the race’s first full course caution, and on the Lap 188 restart.
A launch from fourth through to the lead, past Kanaan, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves, using the low line in a race where the high line was preferred, was ultimately the move that said he wasn’t just here to race for points, but wanted to win the race.
He didn’t win – he ended ninth after the final round of green flag pit stops – but he didn’t need to as Castroneves’ charge ended with a pit lane penalty.
Castroneves was on the apron and crossed back onto race track before pitting, and that earned him a drive-through penalty.
Meanwhile Power pitted with most of the rest of the field on Lap 217 and eventually fell outside the top five, to a still manageable ninth.
That netted him his first career championship, after several years of trying and brutal near misses, and Roger Penske’s first since 2006 (Sam Hornish Jr.).
“That was one of the hardest races ever. I was crying over the line. It went on and on. The car wasn’t great. Have to thank Verizon. It’s surreal, man. I can’t believe it,” Power told NBCSN’s Marty Snider in victory lane.
“I want to be more excited but I’m so drained. I can’t believe I won it.
“These have been the worst 14 days of my life. Not sleeping; I’m stressing.
“That’s unbelievable. Been fighting for that. That’s 15 years of hard work. Started taking it seriously in 2000.”
As for the race, the final battle saw something we’ve seen at Auto Club Speedway before: the Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates versus Ed Carpenter.
Kanaan meanwhile stopped a lap later on the final sequence – Lap 218 compared to Lap 217 – and pulled out a bigger margin over teammate Dixon and Carpenter.
Kanaan is the 11th different race winner this season, which ties a North American open-wheel racing record that was set in the 2000 and 2001 CART seasons. It’s his first win for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, as well.
Juan Pablo Montoya and James Hinchcliffe completed the top five in the season finale.
Nov 20, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
All the latest from the ground in Abu Dhabi from NBCSN’s Will Buxton in this week’s “Paddock Pass.”
Nov 20, 2014, 4:18 PM EST
TV times, title outlooks for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Nov 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Big night of F1 on NBC from 7 p.m. ET.
Nov 20, 2014, 3:09 PM EST
If you like wild, crazy and unpredictable, you won’t want to miss Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, airing LIVE at 5 pm ET on NBCSN.
Nov 20, 2014, 2:31 PM EST
In this edition of NASCAR Minute, Rick Allen and Kyle Petty talk about the wackiest things they saw this race season.
Nov 20, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
After his departure from Ferrari was announced today, Alonso drops the biggest hint yet that he will be driving for McLaren in 2015.
Nov 20, 2014, 2:21 PM EST
What would the final 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings look like if there had been no Chase format? Would Kevin Harvick still have finished No. 1? You might be surprised.
Nov 20, 2014, 1:00 PM EST
New paint scheme for Danica Patrick’s No. 10 in 2015.
Nov 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Gunning for his second world championship, Hamilton can be sure of the title by finishing second in Abu Dhabi – but will the pressure get to him?
Nov 20, 2014, 11:35 AM EST
How will Will Stevens’ debut go? He’s in a rare spot, making an in-season debut.
Nov 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
A few little things to look out for during this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:45 AM EST
Kasey Kahne’s arrival shouldn’t change the arrival of Chase Elliott at Hendrick Motorsports, but it may change the date.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
Mexican driver admits trying to take a step down out of a race seat for 2015 is a risk, but feels it is the best move for his future.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:15 AM EST
Matthew Brabham replaces Charles Pic in FE this weekend.
With Vettel, Alonso, Mercedes and Renault all on the move, Abu Dhabi will mark the end of an era in F1
Nov 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Lotus will be very different teams in 2015.
Nov 20, 2014, 9:50 AM EST
Kasey Kahne re-ups with Hendrick for three more years.
Nov 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
Mexican driver all but certain to stay with Force India for 2015, with the finer details of his contract being ironed.
Nov 20, 2014, 8:30 AM EST
FIA F3 champion Ocon will run for Lotus in FP1 on Friday at Yas Marina; Fong will take part for Sauber.
Nov 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
The MST writing team makes its final predictions of the 2014 F1 season – will it be Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg who is crowned champion in Abu Dhabi?
Nov 20, 2014, 7:30 AM EST
It’s the showdown at sundown – will Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg be crowned Formula 1 world champion on Sunday in Abu Dhabi?
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