Fontana, CA (Sports Network) - Will Power's bid for his first IZOD IndyCar Series championship took a serious blow when he crashed early in Saturday's season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway.
Power qualified third on Friday, but had to start the 500-mile race from 13th due to a penalty for an unapproved engine failure. The Team Penske driver dropped back to 21st in the field within the first few laps around the two- mile Southern California oval.
While running in 18th on lap 55, Power lost control and spun around before he backed it into the turn two wall. He was not injured, but his car was heavily damaged. His No. 12 team was attempting to repair the car after it was towed to the garage area.
"I just caught a seam," Power said. "I had been pushing it all night. The car was pushing and pushing. It really caught me by surprise. I thought it would be the last thing that would happen, running down there on that seam."
Power entered this race with a 17-point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay from Andretti Autosport. Hunter-Reay just missed being caught up in Power's wreck, as he was running one spot ahead of him at the time.
"I'm just so disappointed," Power added. "It's just bad."
It's the third straight year that Power has been involved in an incident either on the track or on pit road during the IndyCar season-finale.
Two years ago, Power crashed with 57 laps remaining at Homestead, Fla. He lost the championship to Dario Franchitti by just five points.
In what turned out to be the last race of the 2011 season, Power came to Kentucky Speedway with an 11-point advantage over Franchitti. Power, who started on the pole and led the first 48 laps, made contact with Ana Beatriz while entering his pit stall during the first round of stops. He had to pit several times for repairs and ended up finishing 19th.
Franchitti beat Power by 18 points for last year's IndyCar title.
09/15 22:03:24 ET