Will Power took his second victory in a row at the IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course.
He’s been threatening to win all season but the only clean race he’s had was Long Beach where he finished second; in the other three races he’s had accidents. Today though he triumphed in a race that was all about tyres.
Power did himself a world of good by taking pole from rookie sensation Rob Wickens. It was close though, just eight-hundredths in it. Schmidt had a great day with teammate James Hinchcliffe taking 4th. Another rookie, Jordan King, did extremely well with 5th for Ed Carpenter.
Sebastien Bourdais was in a Schmidt sandwich in 3rd, with defending champ Josef Newgarden 6th. Championship rival Alex Rossi was 8th ahead of Spencer Pigot and Helio Castroneves, returning with Penske in preparation for the Indy 500 in two weeks time.
Further back it was a bad day for Ganassi. Ed Jones was 15th with 4-time champ Scott Dixon only 18th. Graham Rahal also had a rubbish day and was only just in front of Dixon.
Mercifully it was dry after the Barber shenanigans and Power led into the first corner. All hell broke loose behind, however. Castroneves pushed teammate Simon Pagenaud wide and King had nowhere to go but into the back of the former champ. King was beached in the gravel and Pagenaud spun. Later on in the lap Pigot tried an ambitious move on Takuma Sato at the chicane onto Hulman Boulevard and got some air over the curb, giving his backside and the car’s floor a thorough workout. Caution time!
At the restart Power kept his lead but Wicky Bobby re-passed Seabass, having lost 2nd to the Frenchman on the first lap.
The pitstops started on lap 14, with the Ganassi cars pitting for black tyres. Seven laps later the leaders were in with Wicko taking reds and Power blacks. Bourdais took the lead until he too pitted for reds. Wicko then caught up to Power on the faster tyres and passed him round the outside at the end of Hulman Boulevard, showing the difference in the compounds.
After the stops the order was Wickens, Power, Bourdais, Newgarden, and Rossi. Dixon had benefited hugely and was up to 6th with Rahal also into the top ten. By lap 34 he was up to eighth, passing Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Dixie got the jump on Rossi when they pitted for reds on lap 38. Three laps later Wicko and Seabass were in for blacks. Power followed a lap later for reds but Wicko kept the lead.
Halfway through and Wickens was still leading Power, with Bourdais, Newgarden and Dixon rounding out the five.
Wicko didn’t have the lead for long though! Now he was the one suffering with the tyres, he was powerless to stop Power getting him into the first corner on lap 51. He’d get another chance though because five laps later JoNew carried too much speed into the turn 12 chicane trying to pass Seabass for 3rd. It was close, but fortunately there was no contact. However, JoNew was left facing the wrong way with a stalled engine and egg on his face.
In the ensuing caution there was a mad dash for the pits. Power, laying down some elevenses on his way out, just managed to stay in front of Wicko by inches. Great work by Ganassi meant Dixie was now up to 3rd! Bourdais was now 4th, Rossi 5th and Helio was back up to 6th after dropping back on the wrong tyres in the first stint.
The scene was set then for a crazy last 20 or so laps to finish!
Unfortunately, something very unusual happened. There was no craziness on the lap 62 restart and it was a rather sedate final part of the race by IndyCar’s standards. Rossi and Dixie made up a place each at the expense of Seabass and Wicko. Rossi went after the Canadian and the two entertained us by going literally a whole lap side-by-side!
But for the final ten laps the question was did Power have enough fuel and speed to hold of Dixon, the master of fuel saving?
He did! He held on to win from Dixon, Wickens and Bourdais who had passed Rossi. Castroneves was a creditable 6th on his return with Hinchcliffe, Rahal and Sato rounding out the ten. JoNew clawed his way back to 11th with rookie Zach Cleman deMelo putting in a great effort for 12th in place of Pietro Fittipaldi after the Brazilian smashed his legs last week at Spa.
It was tight on the fuel and cars were parked all over the track afterwards having run out of juice on the slow down lap. But Power didn’t care about that. He’s scored his third win in five Indy GP’s, his 33rd win and a milestone 200th for The Captain, Roger Penske.
In the championship JoNew now leads by just two points from Rossi. There’s bit of a gap then a relentless scrap for 3rd between Seabass, Dixie, Hinch, Rahal, Power, Wicko and RHR, who are all separated by just over 20 points.
We now move on to the big one, the Indianapolis 500, in two weeks time and with double points on offer, who knows what’s those standings might look like? I can’t wait! See you then.