Ryan Hunter-Reay's championship hopes fade in late crash with Will Power

USA TODAY Sports

Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay tangled with two laps to go, likely dropping the defending Series champion from title contention with six races remaining.

A late-race accident ended a likely top-10 finish for both Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay and left Takuma Sato with nowhere to go but directly into the melee.

The crash ended a dreadful weekend for all three drivers, as the trio were also involved in individual crashes during the Saturday race as well.

The accident occurred off the lap 84 restart when Hunter-Reay took Power and Sebastien Bourdais three-wide on the straightaway but backed off before the entrance of turn one. With Bourdais completing a pass to Power's inside, the No. 12 Chevrolet drifted left and clipped Hunter-Reay, sending the defending IndyCar champion into the retaining wall.

Sato was just a little behind the accident and was left with nowhere to go but directly into Hunter-Reay, one week after the two collided during an accident on pit road at Pocono International Raceway.

Hunter-Reay seemed to indicate that it was just a racing accident but believes Power could have given him more room.

"There's two lanes going through turn 1 and everybody kind of respects that," Hunter-Reay said. "I don't think he drove into me on purpose, but we were taken out of the race. We had a good day going and I had a decent car... I think we had a chance at a podium, maybe a fourth and I would have been happy with that."

Power suffered a similar fate on Saturday, colliding with Dario Franchitti at the entrance to turn three and also failed to finish both races. He had been competing for a podium in both races.

"It was a disappointing end for the Verizon team," Power said. "We worked so hard all day and had a good run throughout most of the race. Then for it to come to an end like it did on the last restart, it's such a heartbreaker."

Power, Hunter-Reay and Sato finished 18th, 19th and 20th respectively.

Power hasn't been a championship factor all season but this weekend has had major implications on Hunter-Reay's title chances. Hunter-Reay entered the weekend in second-place just 23 points behind Helio Castroneves. With two crashes in two races, he has fallen to third and 69 points out of the lead.

"The DHL Chevy was lacking just a little grip this weekend," Hunter-Reay said. "And we were just trying to hang on. We had a good race; I tried really hard to just keep it right and got up to third at one point -- but we got taken out again."

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