Skip to content

Feelin’ free: Frustrations end for Chase-bound Kahne, IndyCar champ Power

Sep 1, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

Oral-B USA 500 Getty Images

When I sit down to crank out these posts for MotorSportsTalk, I usually have my headphones plugged in to listen to music.

As I figure it goes with some of you, music is one of my favorite hobbies outside the laptop. I don’t pluck a guitar and I haven’t sang in a choral ensemble since college. But I still enjoy discovering new sounds when I can.

However, I also enjoy the classics. One of my favorites in that category is Cream’s “I Feel Free,” that delightful ’60s smash-up of pop, blues, and psychedelia.

And I can’t help but think that the song fits with the final outcomes from this weekend’s major events – last night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta and Saturday’s Verizon IndyCar Series championship finale at Fontana.

Because Atlanta winner Kasey Kahne and first-time IndyCar champion Will Power have to be feeling free of their own respective burdens.

Often in the shadow of Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kahne is sometimes a forgotten man even though he’s always been a capable driver.

But prior to last night, Kahne’s 2014 season had been a poor one with only two Top-5 finishes to his credit and very little consistency. Most of us probably figured that him failing to hold off Gordon late for the win at Indianapolis would be his highlight (or rather, lowlight) of the campaign.

Instead, Kahne changed the script. Stuck in mid-pack during the middle stages of the race, he made a late push into the Top-5 before a caution with two laps to go sent the race to green-white-checkered.

Then, after jumping to third before another caution came out, Kahne blew past the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates of Denny Hamlin and then Matt Kenseth on the second G-W-C attempt to nail down the victory and get in the Chase at last.

Forgotten no more, Kahne has not only ensured that all four Hendrick pilots will be in the hunt for a championship. He’s also pretty much regained his relevancy.

Meanwhile, one day before and about three thousand miles to the West, Power was facing another chance to claim an IndyCar title – and another chance to blow it following near-misses in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Up 50 points over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in a double-points race, Power had to start from the back of the field after a rough qualifying session.

But he played it smart for the first half of the race, gradually making his way up the leader board instead of charging like an angry bull.

With around 60 laps to go, Power finally made his presence known at the front of the field by dueling wheel-to-wheel with eventual race winner Tony Kanaan for the lead before settling in the Top 5 with Castroneves.

Then came the last pit stops of the season and the critical moment of the race: Castroneves being called for an entry violation after momentarily sliding up off the apron and onto the track before coming down again into the pits.

It was all about Power bringing it home from there. Considering his cruel championship history, nothing was a given. But the Aussie dropped back and finished ninth, enough to finally put the ghosts to rest.

And it was very telling that when Power emerged from his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, his face did not wear a look of unfiltered, unbridled joy – but one of sheer relief that was still erasing the last residues of doubt and worry.

No matter. It was all over. The crown was his at last.

For Power, he can savor his moment for the next six or seven months. For Kahne, there’s still more work to be done.

But right now, both of them are on top of the world.

They feel fine.

They feel fabulous.

They feel free.

Latest Posts
  1. NHRA: All you need to know about the 61st U.S. Nationals

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    u.s. nationals logo

    Here’s all the information you need to know about this weekend’s 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis:

  2. NHRA: Year’s biggest race, the U.S. Nationals, ready to roll

    Sep 3, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT

    nhra logo

    The biggest and most important drag race of the season takes place this weekend with the 61st Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis.

  3. GP3 unveils new car for 2016 season at Monza

    Sep 3, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    The GP3/16 breaks cover at Monza ahead of its introduction next year.

  4. Mercedes uses remaining development tokens to upgrade power units

    Sep 3, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    A track marshal waves the checkered flag as Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (Andrej Isakovic/Pool photo via AP) AP

    Mercedes goes all-in ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, fully upgrading the power units on both of its cars.

  5. FOM satisfied Pirelli not to blame for Spa tire failures

    Sep 3, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    A Ferrari technician works on tires outside the Ferrari pits at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015. ormula One tire supplier Pirelli blamed debris on the track and prolonged usage for a "highly unusual number of cuts" at the Belgian Grand Prix, which was marred by frightening tire deterioration on the cars of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) AP

    FOM comes out in support of “first class partner” Pirelli.

  6. F1 2015’s silly season is proving to be a let down, but who could yet spice it up?

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 23, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Silly season has been a let down in 2015. Perhaps it is therefore fitting that McLaren is now the team to watch in the driver market.

  7. Lewis Hamilton’s blonde hair brings back memories of when Villeneuve, Vettel also did so

    Sep 3, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT

    LewisBlonde AP

    Hamilton goes blonde for Monza. He’s not alone in F1 annals.

  8. Perez keen to remain at Force India for 2016 season

    Sep 3, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India walks in the paddock before the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Perez expects to confirm his plans for 2016 in the next two weeks.

  9. Pirelli: Debris to blame for Belgian GP tire failures

    Sep 3, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    A Williams technician walks over Pirelli tires at the Monza racetrack, in Monza, Italy , Thursday, Sept. 3 , 2015.  Formula One tire supplier Pirelli blamed debris on the track and prolonged usage for a "highly unusual number of cuts" at the Belgian Grand Prix, which was marred by frightening tire deterioration on the cars of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) AP

    Debris, not structural problems, to blame for tire failures at Spa.

  10. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Italian Grand Prix

    Sep 3, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 07:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams celebrates his thrd place during the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 7, 2014 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno make their picks ahead of this weekend’s race at Monza.

  11. 2015 Italian Grand Prix Preview

    Sep 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Fans wave with a giant Ferrari flag after the Italian Formula One Grand Prix motor race at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on September 7, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN        (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The European season comes to a close at Monza this weekend. Can Lewis Hamilton enter the final run of flyaways with an even bigger lead?

  12. James Hinchcliffe on the comeback trail for IndyCar driving return

    Sep 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    HinchComeback AP

    James Hinchcliffe a few weeks away from his driving return.

  13. Bottas and Massa to remain with Williams for 2016

    Sep 3, 2015, 5:38 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams drives ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Williams confirms an unchanged line-up for 2016, keeping Bottas and Massa together for a third season.

  14. Mardenborough set for GP2 debut at Monza with Carlin this weekend

    Sep 2, 2015, 2:36 PM EDT

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Jann Mardenborough steps up from GP3 into GP2 this weekend.

  15. James Hinchcliffe describes how inspired he was by Justin Wilson

    Sep 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Hinchjw AP

    Hinchcliffe recalls racing, commentating on Justin Wilson.

  16. NHRA: Leah Pritchett climbing mountains as she continues to grow career

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    All Photos: Gumout/Dote Racing All Photos: Gumout/Dote Racing

    Leah Pritchett looks to make her mark even more in NHRA Top Fuel, going into U.S. Nationals.

  17. Dixon: “I don’t think anybody had a stellar season”

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

    DixonJPM AP

    Dixon offers a rebuttal to Montoya’s dig about a “poor” season.