CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Will Power capped his first IndyCar Series championship with a $1 million bonus check.
Power won his first series championship Saturday night, finishing ninth in the final race at Fontana before raising the Astor Cup for the first time in a career filled with agonizing misses.
Power and team owner Roger Penske were presented with the championship bonus check and replicas of the Astor Cup, the IndyCar Series championship trophy.
“It’s still sinking in really,” Power said at the postseason IndyCar banquet. “When you want something so bad for so long, it’s such a relief when you finally get it. It’s exactly that, a culmination of 15 years of hard work to get to this point.”
Power also received a championship ring, a $75,000 prize for winning the most races and the Verizon P1 Award for scoring the most points among pole winners.
Power headlined a banner year for Team Penske. Matt Jonnson, chief mechanic for Power’s No. 12 Chevrolet, accepted the Verizon IndyCar Series Chief Mechanic of the Year Award. Jon Bouslog of Team Penske accepted the Team Manager of the Year Award.
In other awards: Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport earned $50,000 as IndyCar’s Rookie of the Year and Jack Hawksworth won the Tony Renna Rising Star Award.
Charlie Kimball claimed the $25,000 TAG Heuer “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” Award for advancing the most cumulative places during the season.
Juan Pablo Montoya was voted favorite driver by Verizon IndyCar Series fans in his first year back after several seasons in NASCAR.
Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports, accepted the manufacturer’s award on behalf of Chevrolet.
Helio Castroneves of Team Penske was honored as the second-place finisher in the championship while 2013 series champion Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was honored for finishing third.
Susie Wheldon was selected the winner of the Dan and Susie Wheldon Make a Difference Award. A $1,000 donation to charity will be made in her honor.
FORMULA 1: Haas Formula is now Haas F1 Team.
Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation and chairman of the newly renamed Haas F1 Team, opted for the name change to better correlate his team with the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Haas also has motorsports holdings in Windshear. Windshear is a 180 mph rolling-road wind tunnel in Concord, North Carolina, that is the first of its kind in North America.
Haas founded Haas Automation in 1983 and has shaped it into the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America.
“Haas Automation has an excellent reputation in the United States and I want that reputation to grow worldwide,” he said. “Connecting Haas Automation with F1 in name and in practice when the Haas F1 Team debuts in 2016 is the best way to grow our business and elevate Haas Automation to a premium, global brand.”
The last U.S.-based Formula One team was Parnelli Jones Racing in 1974-76, when Mario Andretti drove.
Haas selected Scuderia Ferrari as its technical partner.
Scuderia Ferrari, the most successful team in the history of Formula One with 16 constructors titles and 15 driver championships, will provide Haas F1 Team its power unit, gearbox and overall technical support.
“Aligning Haas F1 Team with such a tenured and successful company in Scuderia Ferrari provides our team with the greatest opportunity for success in 2016 and beyond,” Haas said.
The power unit consists of the engine, the motor generator unit-kinetic, the motor generator unit-heat, the energy store, turbocharger, and control electronics. The gearbox, or transmission, has eight forward gears, which are operated by the driver via paddles affixed to the back of the steering wheel.
“We understand there is some heavy lifting ahead of us, but know that with their technical support, we will develop a team of talented people at an exceptional pace so that we’re ready to race competitively in 2016,” Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner said. “We are focused on the future and look forward to what’s ahead for Haas F1 Team.”
INCREASED VIEWERSHIP: NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the 2014 IndyCar Series averaged 378,000 viewers, the second-highest average for a season on the network since IndyCar rights were acquired in 2009.
The best the network ever did was an average of 402,000 in 2011). Still, NBCSN’s IndyCar coverage this season was up 34 percent from the network’s average viewership for the series for the 2013 season, according to data provided by The Nielsen Company.
“The viewership increases this year clearly demonstrate the benefits of everyone in the industry working together,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports & NBCSN. “Our two organizations successfully cooperated to reduce scheduling conflicts; drivers and teams delivered thrilling races week after week; our marketing department drove viewers to telecasts by utilizing all of our motorsports platforms; and our production team continued its best-in-class coverage. We look forward to growing viewership for the sport for many years to come.”
SPEAKING: “We took our position, and we thought about it deep and hard,” NASCAR President Mike Helton on NASCAR granting Tony Stewart a waiver to get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship should he qualify. “I’ll let y’all (the media) decide how the industry reacted to it, but I think for the most part there were a lot of folks in the garage area that was glad to see Tony back. I think it was good for Tony to get back. And we’ll see what the future holds.”
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