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Power Repeats As Winner Of The Indy Grand Prix

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 12 2018

Will Power drove to victory on the Indy road circuit on Saturday. (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Will Power played the tire game to perfection on Saturday and that handed him the victory in the INDY Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s infield road course.

The victory was the third for the Team Penske driver in the event with the others coming in 2015 and then last year.

He led 56 laps of 85 and his margin of victory was 2.24 seconds. The victory gave team owner Roger Penske his 200th victory. It was also, Power said, a toughie.

“I’ve never driven so hard for an entire race,” Power said in Victory Circle. “I was 100 percent the whole time. I’m exhausted.”

Finishing second to Power’s Chevrolet after starting P18 was Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing in a Honda.

“Great to be finally on the podium this year,” Dixon said. “It’s been a rough start. Hopefully we can get one spot better (in the 500) in the next couple of weeks.”

Third was Robert Wickens in a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. It was his third top-five of the season.

Rounding out the top five were Sebastien Bourdais in a Dale Coyne Racing Honda and  Alexander Rossi in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

Power started from the pole on hard black rubber. He eventually was passed for the lead by Wickens, who was on the softer red-walled tires. That lead grew substantially as the race stayed green.

“Wickens came out on reds and I was on blacks,” Power said. “Man, I’ve never driven so hard to watch a gap grow.”

Wickens pitted from the lead on Lap 42 for fuel and went from red to black rubber. Second-place Power stopped on the same lap and went from black to reds.

Taking the lead was Graham Rahal.

When Rahal pitted four laps later, Wickens was first and Power second. But on the softer red tires, Power began to cut into Wickens’ lead.

On Lap 51, Power went to push-to-pass and dove under Wickens in Turn 1 to take the lead. Once out front, Power quickly pulled away. By Lap 55, his lead was 4 seconds.

“It was a great race,” Wickens said. “I was hoping to have a bit more pace on the blacks and maybe hold him off a bit longer but it just didn’t happen.”

A bit later on Lap 55, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden spun when he hit a curb while trying to past Sebastien Bourdais. That brought out a full-course yellow flag. That bunched up the field and eliminated Power’s big lead over Wickens.

During the caution, the field headed into the pits. Both Power and Wickens went with red tires and came out first and second respectively.

Jumping to third place after his stop was Dixon. Fourth was Bourdais while Rossi was fifth.

The stops fell just outside of the fuel window forcing teams to decide whether to attempt to save fuel and not pit again or attempt to go full power. The front runners all opted to go on the savings plan.

The race restarted on Lap 62. The field restated clean with Power keeping his lead.

On Lap 64, Dixon passed Wickens for second place. On Lap 65, Power led by 1.0 seconds over Dixon and 2.6 seconds over Wickens.

With 15 laps to go in the 85-lapper, the race appeared to become a Power vs. Dixon job  – Power led by 1 second over Dixon and after that, Wickens was 4 seconds behind Dixon.

With 10 to go, his lead had grown to 1.5 seconds and all he had to do was keep fuel in his cell. He did and the victory was his.

“Power did a great job,” Penske said, “The strategy was right. This gives us tremendous momentum going into the 500.”

Yep on momentum, Power said.

“It’s great for the whole team,” he said, “for all the guys on my car and myself to get some momentum. It’s been a bit of a slow start. I remember last time I won this race I finished 2nd in the 500 in 2015 and I felt good all month. So, let’s see if I can go one better.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana- Results Saturday of the INDYCAR Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (18) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
3. (2) Robert Wickens, Honda, 85, Running
4. (3) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 85, Running
5. (8) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (4) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
8. (7) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (17) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
10. (11) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
11. (6) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 85, Running
13. (14) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
14. (12) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
15. (9) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 85, Running
16. (16) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 85, Running
17. (22) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
19. (24) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 85, Running
20. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 85, Running
21. (21) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 85, Running
22. (15) Ed Jones, Honda, 84, Running
23. (20) Zach Veach, Honda, 84, Running
24. (5) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 83, Running

Race Statistics:
Winner’s average speed:
 113.318 mph
Time of Race: 1:49:46.1935
Margin of victory: 2.2443 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 8 laps
Lead changes: 9 among 7 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power, Will 1 – 19
Bourdais, Sebastien 20
Newgarden, Josef 21
Rossi, Alexander 22 – 23
Kaiser, Kyle 24 – 25
Wickens, Robert 26 – 40
Power, Will 41 – 42
Rahal, Graham 43 – 45
Wickens, Robert 46 – 50
Power, Will 51 – 85

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 178, Rossi 176, Bourdais 152, Dixon 147, Hinchcliffe 144, Rahal 142, Power 135, Wickens 133, Hunter-Reay 125, Andretti 105.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 12 2018
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