By JENNA FRYER
2012-09-16 10:44 AM
The Australian lost control of his car 55 laps into Saturday night's season finale and spun hard into the outside wall at Auto Club Speedway. It's the third consecutive year Power has gone into the finale with the title on the line and had an incident snatch away his chances.
He brushed the wall at Homestead in 2011 and lost the title by five points to Dario Franchitti. Last year, his points lead was gobbled up when another car hit him on pit road in the penultimate race, and he was involved in the 15-car accident that killed Dan Wheldon in the finale.
Power broke his back in that accident in Las Vegas.
"Man, depressing," Power said after leaving the care center. "I wish I could care less."
Power laughed nervously, searching and failing to find the right words to describe his frustration.
"I don't know what to say. It's depressing," he said. "Depressing to lose the championship again that way. Nothing I can say, mate, it's just depressing. I don't know what emotion to even feel right now."
Power took a 17-point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay into the finale, and was racing deep in the field with the American as both drivers had handling issues with their cars early in the race. Power said his Penske Racing team was urging him to get around Hunter-Reay, and understeer in his own car led him to drop down a lane on the track. There, while pushing, his car caught a seam and slipped out of his control.
"Just absolutely took me by surprise," he said.
He figured his race was over, and headed back to his team truck to change into street clothes and watch the rest of the race. The title didn't automatically fall to Hunter-Reay _ he still needed to earn enough points on the track to overtake Power in the standings.
But the Penske team went to work on Power's car, and he was told to change back into his firesuit as they attempted to get him back on the track.
"Keep our fingers crossed," he smiled, his mood completely changed.
Both Power and Hunter-Reay went into the race seeking their first career title. For Hunter-Reay, he was trying to become the first American since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 to win the championship.