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Power Thinking Sweep After Winning On Indy Road Course

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 10 2015
Will Power is 1 for 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway  in May – so far.

Will Power is 1 for 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May – so far.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Without apology, Will Power plans to spend the remainder of his Month of May lowering the broom on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Power’s dominating victory from pole position in the second annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis has placed him halfway toward an historic sweep of the fledgling road-course event coupled with the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

“You got four sessions during this month that you want to be P1 in,” said Power, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “One is qualifying for the GP, winning the GP, qualifying for the 500 and winning the 500. It’s possible, obviously. That’s got to be the goal this month.

“My focus nowadays is so much on the 500 more than it ever was now that I’ve won a championship. That’s the main one I want to get. But you can imagine just winning the GP and the 500, it would be unbelievable. It would be huge.”

Power paced 65 of 82 laps around the 2.439-mile/14-turn IMS road-course en route to a margin of victory of 1.5023-seconds over Graham Rahal, who scored his second consecutive runnerup result.

“That’s the most physical race I think I’ve ever done. It never stopped,” said Power, who scored his first victory of 2015 in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. “I was so determined to win that I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I didn’t want to get caught-out by a yellow and wanted a clean race, and that’s exactly what we got. It’s pretty special to win here.”

Power’s 25th career victory broke a tie with Bobby Rahal _ Graham’s father _ and Ralph DePalma for 16th on the all-time Indy car list, and also tied Gordon Johncock for 15th-place.

Power became the fifth different winner in as many IndyCar Series races this season with the new aerodynamic road/street and short oval bodywork platforms supplied by Chevrolet and Honda. The victory also moved Power into second in the championship standings, five points (171-166) behind teammate Juan Pablo Montoya after his third podium finish of the season.

IMS will be closed on Sunday for Mother’s Day. Practice for the Indy 500 _ and the competitive debuts of the superspeedway aero kit platforms supplied by Chevrolet and Honda _ is scheduled for Monday. A schedule change now will feature Rookie Orientation and refresher tests from noon-1 p.m. (EDT).  After a one-hour break, full-field practice is booked from 2-7 p.m. The change adds an extra hour of full-field evening practice.

Qualifications on Saturday and Sunday around the 2.5-mile IMS oval will determine the traditional field of 33 for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I’m halfway there. The Indy 500 is on my mind and I’m very determined to get it done,” Power said. “In this race, the first lap was as fast as the last lap. Honestly, I think it was staying ahead at the start and the restart and then it was managing that traffic and just the pit sequence. My crew did an awesome job and saved enough fuel there at the end with Graham coming hard. I’m really happy to win here at this awesome facility. I just want to get one two weeks from now.”

Power’s victory was the 16th for team-owner Roger Penske’s organization at IMS, a list topped by a record 15 wins in the Indy 500. Power’s record-setting qualifying run on the IMS road-course Friday afternoon (1 minute, 9.4886-seconds/126.357 mph) was the eighth pole in a row for Team Penske dating to The Milwaukee Mile last August.

“It’s a credit to the whole team, the guys back at the shop, and the drivers have just been outstanding all season,” Penske said of a lineup that includes Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud. “What we’ve got to do is get one coming up next weekend. It’s a credit to the reliability. The Chevy engines were strong, obviously, you could see that all day. Will Power had one of his best days, never missed a beat and was out front all day long. This bodes well for us as we move into Memorial Day (Weekend for the Indianapolis 500).”

As was the case on the natural terrain road-course at Barber Motorsports Park on April 26, Rahal clearly was the class of a Honda camp that admittedly has struggled with its road/street aero kit.

“I thought we had a very consistent car,” said Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “I felt like when we toned it back a little bit, I could drive it pretty consistently throughout the race and get as close as possible to Will. I didn’t know we could beat the Chevys. To be where we are this year, it feels good.

“This team has really turned a corner, but those Penske guys are no slouches. It’s pretty hard to beat them. I’m very confident in myself and very confident in my team. That’s the biggest thing. I have all of the confidence in the world that Honda’s going to keep working hard and we’re going to get better aero kits and power and we’ll be able to challenge these guys even more. The biggest thing after Barber was to carry the momentum into May and now we need to carry that momentum into the 500 and we’ve got that. So hopefully we can keep it going.”

Bobby Rahal, a co-owner of RLLR and the 1986 Indy 500 champion, said Saturday’s result backed up the entire team’s effort from the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Graham Rahal finished second to first-time series winner Josef Newgarden and his No. 21 Century 21 CFR Racing Chevrolet by 2.2061-seconds.

“It shows Alabama (Barber Motorsports Park) wasn’t a fluke, doesn’t it?” the elder Rahal said. “This is a kid that’s got tremendous talent. He and the engineers are really clicking and I think it’s going to get stronger and stronger as the year goes on. This should move us up in the championship. I think we have more points this year than we had all of last year. Everybody’s clicking and what this does for your confidence is tremendous, and a confident driver is the most powerful weapon you’ve got in your bag.”

Rahal now is tied with three-time series champion Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing for fourth in the standings at 144 points.

Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais finished a season-high fourth for his third consecutive top-10 in the No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs-KVSH Racing Chevrolet.  Charlie Kimball advanced nine spots from to his starting position to finish a season-high fifth for team-owner Chip Ganassi.

“The No. 83 NovoLog Flex Pen Chevrolet was just really fast today and I was consistently hitting the fuel numbers they were giving me,” Kimball said. “I have to give a lot of credit to the guys on pit lane _ they’re just so consistently fast. They’ve been so good all season and we just ran into bad luck in those first four races.

“We took advantage of the fact that we had a clear pit-in and we had some really fast in-and-out laps. The fact that the car was so quick, all I really had to do was hit the (fuel) number they were giving me. We’ll definitely take the momentum from this solid finish into the rest of the Month of May.”

For the second time in three races, there was only one caution flag. A full-course caution waved on Lap 1 as multiple cars were involved in an incident entering Turn 1. Chief victim was front-row qualifier Dixon, who was spun around after contact from behind by Castroneves.

“There’s not much you can say about the start,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chevrolet. “We got turned around from behind and then had damage to both front and rear wings, and had to change both. Tough day for the Target car.”

Castroneves had qualified third for his milestone 300th Indy car start, which quickly turned into a thrash. “I was just trying to make sure I didn’t hit anyone _ and that I didn’t get hit _ in that first corner,” said Castroneves, who turns 40 on Sunday. “Just wanted to put the No. 3 Verizon Chevy in a good position there. Unfortunately, I clipped Dixon in the right rear when he turned into the corner. Obviously, him spinning out put me into the grass and we lost many spots.

“From there it was a great comeback for the team. We were able to recover by having a fast car and by getting great fuel mileage. We learned a lot about our fuel mileage at Barber two weeks ago. Today that paid off big-time.”

Following two caution laps, it was a sprint to the checkered flag for the 25 entries as Castroneves rallied to finish sixth and Dixon placed 10th.

Official results Saturday of the second annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 2.439-mile/14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road-course with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 82, Running
2. (17) Graham Rahal, Honda, 82, Running
3. (4) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 82, Running
4. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 82, Running
5. (14) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 82, Running
6. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 82, Running
7. (6) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 82, Running
8. (10) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 82, Running
9. (22) Takuma Sato, Honda, 82, Running
10. (2) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 82, Running
11. (19) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 82, Running
12. (13) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 82, Running
13. (21) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 82, Running
14. (9) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 82, Running
15. (16) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 82, Running
16. (24) Marco Andretti, Honda, 82, Running
17. (8) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 82, Running
18. (20) James Jakes, Honda, 81, Running
19. (23) Carlos Huertas, Honda, 81, Running
20. (12) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 81, Running
21. (15) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 81, Running
22. (25) Francesco Dracone, Honda, 80, Running
23. (11) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 69, Running
24. (18) Justin Wilson, Honda, 68, Mechanical
25. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 57, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 116.842 mph
Time of race: 01:42:42.0940-seconds
Margin of victory: 1.5023-seconds
Cautions: 1 for 2 laps
Lead changes: 11 among six drivers
Lap Leaders: Power 1–21, Rahal 22-23, Jakes 24-25, Hinchcliffe 26, Power 27-39, Rahal 40-43,
Dixon 44, Hinchcliffe 45-47, Power 48-58, Rahal 59-61,Kimball 62, Power 63-82.
Point standings: Montoya 171, Power 166, Castroneves 161, Dixon 144, Rahal 144, Kanaan 136, Newgarden 129, Hinchcliffe 129, Bourdais 123, Pagenaud 101.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 10 2015
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