Power Takes Indy GP Win

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 13 2017

Will Power is shown the checkers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday.


Will Power used the backdrop of iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway to move past a pair of Team Penske greats in the Indy car record book.

Power dominated Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix on IMS’ 2.439-mile/14-turn road-course to collect win No. 30 in his 13-year Indy car career. The milestone victory pushed the 36-year-old Power ahead of current teammate Helio Castroneves and retired Team Penske legend Rick Mears for sole possession of 11th place on the all-time list.

Making his 175th career start, Power led 61 of 85 laps in the caution-free race and cruised across the finish line 5.283-seconds ahead of Scott Dixon in the No. 9 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Power now has won at least one race in 11 straight seasons and is the fifth different driver to win in as many IndyCar Series races this season.

“It feels really good to finally have a good day,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. “Everyone on this team has been working really hard. We should have had a couple of wins by now. (Win) No. 30; that is a good number. I want to make it 31 by the end of this month.”

The 101st edition of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 28.

Power owned the INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend. He was fastest in every practice session, earned the pole position Friday with a track-record lap in Verizon P1 Award qualifying and set a race record speed average of 120.813 mph. Amassing maximum possible points, Power advanced two positions into fifth in the standings in his bid for a second series championship.

“After (morning) warmup, I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve actually been quickest in every session. Yeah, it would be amazing to win the race,’ ” said Power, who joined Roger Penske’s organization via a partial schedule in 2009 and has been a full-timer since. “It’s funny, momentum, once your whole team and crew believes that you have a shot at winning races _ which we have had all year _ but when you execute it, it definitely gives them confidence. It’s just good (to) get a win and very, very good for everyone.”

Dixon made his 275th career start and extended his consecutive starting streak to 212 races, breaking a tie for the second-longest all-time run with Jimmy Vasser. Only current Ganassi teammate Tony Kanaan _ who started his 270th consecutive race Saturday _ has run more Indy car races consecutively than Dixon.

“I think today we got the most out of it,” said Dixon, a four-time Series champion. “The car was pretty strong, we had good pace, but we just couldn’t hold onto the rears (tires). I think the Honda was just too much for the (Firestone alternate) red tires for the most part. Good points for everybody on the NTT Data car, great day for Honda. Obviously not a win, but very close.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay moved from eighth on the starting grid to finish a season-best third in the No. 28 Honda. It marked the 100th top-10 finish of the Andretti Autosport driver’s career and gave the 36-year-old American a shot of momentum heading into Indianapolis 500 competition that starts with practice on Monday.

“It’s certainly a nice feeling,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 Series and 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion. “This group isn’t happy if we’re not on the top step (of the podium), but we’ve had a lot of bad luck this year, a lot of misfortune. It’s been a frustrating start to the year, but we kept our heads down and today we came home with a solid result. This is nice to roll into the next two weeks, preparing for the biggest race in the world.”

Power became the third straight pole-sitter to win the INDYCAR Grand Prix. He did so in 2015 and Simon Pagenaud followed suit last year. The reigning series champion, Pagenaud finished fourth in the No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet to retain the points lead after five of 17 races. Pagenaud now has 191 points to Dixon’s 181. Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden (152), Castroneves (149) and Power (145) hold the third through fifth spots, respectively.

Next up on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Practice for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” begins Monday. Two days of qualifying are set for May 20-21, with the 200-lap race around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval scheduled for May 28 (11 a.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).


Sam Schmidt didn’t win his showdown race against Mario Andretti Saturday, but the former Indy car driver-turned-team-owner accomplished something more gratifying _ he felt “normal” again.

Paralyzed from the neck down following a crash during an Indy car test session in 2000, Schmidt dueled with Andretti in specially modified Chevrolet Corvettes around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The result? Schmidt felt like a racer again. He felt like himself.

“It feels normal,” Schmidt said. “The first time in 17 years I’ve felt normal. There are so many things I haven’t been able to teach my kids to do _ to throw a football, to drive a stick shift. To be able to come back and do this kind of stuff makes up for it a little bit.”

Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the IndyCar Series, has been instrumental in the development and advancement of semi-autonomous motorcar (SAM) technology. Along with Arrow Electronics, the team’s primary sponsor for James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Honda that competes in the series, Schmidt has tested various forms of the cars, which use head movements and inhalation and exhalation to steer, propel and brake.

Schmidt uses a breathing tube to accelerate and brake, and a special camera mounted to his helmet to steer. He’s previously tested it on the IMS oval, the Long Beach street course, the Sonoma road-course and the course used for the annual Pikes Peak Hill Climb. But this was the first time he’d raced the car against someone in like equipment.

“It was great,” Schmidt said. “It was weird. (After) 17 years, driving down the straightaway 130 miles an hour side-by-side was fantastic _ and doing it with Mario Andretti was great.”

Andretti, whose 52 Indy car wins rank second all-time, was in full agreement _ and relief-mode.

“Now I can sleep tonight,” said Andretti, the 1969 Indy 500 champion who playfully warned Schmidt not to lap him during a press conference on Friday. “I tell you, this one really had me going. I had to shut off all my natural senses because, obviously, you just need all the practice you can get. And they gave me every opportunity, but still, I really wasn’t too sure. I didn’t know how much I could trust myself. I’m just thankful the cars are coming in with all the fenders on.”

While Schmidt did not win, he treated himself and the fans to a celebratory tire burnout at the end of the front straight to cap a perfectly normal experience.


Two drivers completed weekend victory sweeps in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires development ladder races on Saturday.

Oliver Askew of Cape Motorsports won for the second straight day on the IMS road-course and for the fifth time in six Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races this season. Victor Franzoni (Juncos Racing) captured his second race of the weekend in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires. Askew and Franzoni lead their respective championships.

In Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy sanctioned by INDYCAR, Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing drove to victory a day after Nico Jamin of Andretti Autosport won the first race of the weekend. With the win, Kaiser took the championship lead by 13 points over Jamin.  


Results Saturday of the INDYCAR Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile/14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road-course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
3. (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
4. (7) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
6. (20) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
7. (14) Max Chilton, Honda, 85, Running
8. (9) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
9. (16) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 85, Running
10. (5) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 85, Running
11. (3) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (22) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
13. (10) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
14. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 84, Running
15. (18) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 84, Running
16. (11) Marco Andretti, Honda, 84, Running
17. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 84, Running
18. (17) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 84, Running
19. (13) Ed Jones, Honda, 84, Running
20. (12) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 83, Running
21. (19) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 32, Off Course
22. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 3, Off Course                        

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed:  120.813 mph
Time of Race: 01:42:57.6108
Margin of victory: 5.2830 -seconds
Cautions: 0
Lead changes: 4 among 2 drivers
Lap Leaders:
Power 1-23
Castroneves 24-45
Power 46-63
Castroneves 64-65
Power 66-85
Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 191, Dixon 181, Newgarden 152, Castroneves 149, Power 145, Hinchcliffe 137, Bourdais 136, Hunter-Reay 117, Rossi 99, Sato 97.


| , RacinToday.com Saturday, May 13 2017
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