Power makes history with third INDYCAR Grand Prix win, 200th Indy car win for Team Penske
Power led 56 of 85 laps on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road course to collect his 33rd career victory (ninth all time). Thirty of those triumphs have come since joining Team Penske in 2009, tying the 37-year-old Australian with Helio Castroneves for the most with the team.
Power chased down race leader Robert Wickens, who started second in the No. 6 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, and made a daring outside pass heading into Turn 1 on Lap 51 to take first place. Seven laps later, Power’s crew barely got him out of the pits in front when nearly the entire field made final stops for fuel and tires under the second and last full-course caution of the race.
From there, Power kept Wickens and then Dixon in his mirrors to the finish – all the while stretching his tank of Sunoco E85 ethanol to the checkered flag.
“I had to save a lot of fuel at the end and go fast because I knew how good Dixon is at saving fuel and going fast. The Chevy had great fuel mileage,” said Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “Man, I’ve never driven so hard for an entire race. I was 100 percent the whole time. Yeah, I’m exhausted. Every lap was like a qualifying lap.”
Team Penske made its Indy car debut on June 15, 1968, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, with driver Mark Donohue. Three years later, Donohue delivered the team’s first win at Pocono Raceway. In 1972, Donohue drove to the first of what is now a record 16 Indianapolis 500 wins for Team Penske. Adding the four INDYCAR Grand Prix victories, 10 percent of Team Penske’s Indy car wins (20 of 200) have come at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Penske, the 81-year-old mastermind of the team, downplayed the achievement of the 200th win. He gave credit to Power and his crew while also looking ahead to the prize he craves most – another Indianapolis 500 win.
“What a great day for the team,” Penske said. “The greatest drivers have performed for us. IMS is the most special place to secure our 200th win. I could not think of a better setting. The most important win now is No. 201.”
Dixon, bidding to pick up a 42nd career victory that would tie him for third all-time with Michael Andretti, was satisfied to finish runner-up for the 39th time in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda – particularly after a disappointing qualifying effort on Friday locked him into the 18th starting position.
“It was a great result today for the PNC Bank car and the whole team,” the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion said. “Everyone on the Ganassi team never quits, never gives up and we were able to make up a lot of spots and finish second.
“I think that was the worst I’ve ever qualified without crashing or having a technical issue. Good day in the points for the No. 9 team. I love having this race open up the month for us here at Indy.”
Wickens continued to impress in his rookie season, collecting a second podium and third top-four finish in five races. The 29-year-old Canadian admitted that trying to race hard while conserving fuel in the final stint was a learning experience.
“It was the first time in my career I’ve had to save fuel like that, but in the end, happy with the podium,” Wickens said. “Would have liked to be a bit further up, but hard to complain.”
Sebastien Bourdais finished fourth in the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda, using his push-to-pass overtake boost on the final lap to zip past Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) for the position. Helio Castroneves, making his Verizon IndyCar Series return following a full-time switch this season to Team Penske’s sports-car program, placed sixth in the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
The race tied an INDYCAR Grand Prix record with seven different leaders and featured 214 on-track passes with the 2018 car’s universal aero kit – an increase of 96 passes from a year ago.
There were two full-course caution periods for eight laps. The first came on the opening lap when Castroneves and teammate Simon Pagenaud touched, and Jordan King ran into the back of Pagenaud. The second caution waved on Lap 56 when Josef Newgarden spun trying to pass Bourdais.
Newgarden finished the race in 11th place, but continues leading the standings. The reigning series champion is two points ahead of Rossi, 26 up on Bourdais and 31 ahead of Dixon.
Following two days off to convert the cars and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to superspeedway oval configuration, practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil begins on Tuesday. Qualifying to set the 33-car field takes place May 19-20. Coverage of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday, May 27 on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Heavy rain suspends Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on 23rd lap
The ninth annual Indy car race on the 2.3-mile permanent road course began in rainy conditions that grew progressively worse and substantially limited driver visibility. A pair of full-course cautions – the first when Charlie Kimball’s car came to a stop on track on Lap 12, the second when Will Power spun and hit the Turn 1 barrier on Lap 17 – preceded the first of two red-flag stoppages for declining track conditions on Lap 19.
Following a 37-minute delay, engines were restarted and the field completed four laps under caution behind the pace car before they were ordered into the pit lane once more. After nearly 90 minutes waiting out the rain, INDYCAR deemed the track lost for the day and announced postponement of the completion until Monday.
The race is scheduled for 90 laps or two hours, whichever comes first. When lead-lap cars cross the start/finish line for Monday’s resumption, 23 laps will be complete and about 75 minutes will remain on the race clock.
Pole sitter Josef Newgarden, the defending race winner at Barber driving the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet this weekend, led every lap until the race was halted and will pick up in first place on Monday. Barber Motorsports Park announced that it will open its gates and allow fans to attend the conclusion without a ticket.
“It’s tough because we have so many people that come out here to watch us,” said Newgarden, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “We want to put on a good race. We want to put on a show, so calling the race, it’s tough to do that.
“But I think it was the right thing in the end. When we started the race, the conditions were OK. You could run at that level of rain. Then it intensified right before that first caution. It got to a point where it was just too much. There was too much puddling and pooling of water.
“Look, we love racing in the rain. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to run in the rain, not being able to do that. It’s this type of track with this water level was too much to race today.”
All cars will be permitted to continue in the race except Kimball’s No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet, which had been retired from the race following contact with the Turn 17 barrier that preceded him stopping on track. Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet may return to the race, but has been impounded overnight by INDYCAR so that no additional repairs may be made. Once the race clock resumes on Monday, Power’s crew may continue working on it.
Teams may choose to restart on either the Firestone primary or alternate dry-condition tire compound unless INDYCAR declares a wet-weather restart, in which case the rain tires must be used. Teams may also choose whatever quantity of ethanol fuel that want in the car for the restart.
The last time a Verizon IndyCar Series event started on one day and resumed on another came in 2016, when the Texas Motor Speedway race completed 72 laps in June before being halted by rain. It was resumed two months later.
In August 2016, the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway was rained out on its originally scheduled date and run in its entirety the following day.
Mazda Road to Indy race recap
Andretti Autosport’s Patricio O’Ward led every lap in wet and tricky conditions to complete a weekend sweep of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires doubleheader. O’Ward won by 5.8325 seconds over Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing).
In the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, Harrison Scott (RP Motorsports Racing) drove to his first series victory. Scott inherited the lead on Lap 21 when Andres Gutierrez (Team Pelfrey) went off course. A full-course caution was ordered shortly after and Scott won the race under yellow.
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