Will Power dominates INDYCAR Grand Prix for 30th series win

Shawn Gritzmacher/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — After starting the year with three finishes outside of the top 10, 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power entered the Month of May in dire need of a victory to lift up his championship hopes.

That victory came on a sunny Saturday in Indianapolis.

Power led early from pole and prevailed in a duel of strategies with Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves to claim his 30th-career IndyCar victory in the caution-free INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Power led 51 of 85 laps in a dominant effort on the 2.439-mile road course, taking the checkered flag 5.2830 seconds ahead of his closest competitor.

In a battle of tire strategy, Power was forced to concede the lead to Castroneves on lap 24 as the Brazilian shoe short-pitted and kept on the softer red alternate Firestone tires.

From that moment on, Power and Castroneves traded the lead only in rounds of pit stops. Power regained the lead on lap 46 after pitting earlier than his teammate for fresh tires. Castroneves briefly regained the lead on lap 64 before pitting on lap 66, but afterward was undone by his strategy.

Looking to stay within range of Power, Castroneves was left on alternate tires until his final pit stop. While the move initially achieved the intended result, the resulting final run on the black primary tire left the 42-year-old free falling through the field.

Scott Dixon was the first to make a pass before driving off to finish second. Ryan Hunter-Reay was next, overtaking Castroneves to secure his first podium of 2017.

In the closing laps, defending race winner (and champion) Simon Pagenaud also overtook Castroneves, securing a fourth-place finish and leaving the Brazilian to finish fifth at the end of a promising day.

Graham Rahal, Max Chilton, Alexander Rossi, Spencer Pigot and the returning Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top 10.

While the event went caution-free, an assortment of problems still found some of the stars of the IndyCar paddock.

The first issue came on lap 1, when contact from Marco Andretti in Turn 7 sent Tony Kanaan spinning around before limping to pit road with a flat tire. Kanaan would only rebound to 20th, and though Andretti had little damage, a resulting avoidable contact penalty from the stewards relegated him to a 16th-place run.

The next case of attrition came on lap 4, when apparent motor woes sent St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais off-course in oval turn 4. 29 laps later, similar woes befell Charlie Kimball, with his No. 83 Honda stopping at in the same section of the track. As a result, Kimball and Bourdais finished 21st and 22nd, respectively.

Throw in a slew of penalties – most notably consecutive pit-road speeding infractions from Josef Newgarden – and an issue of stalling in pit road for Pigot, and nearly half of the field was hit by some form of trouble throughout the afternoon’s festivities.

Ahead of the attrition, Australia’s Power matched the delightful spring day to return triumphantly into victory lane.

Next up for the IndyCar series is the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Results

Pos No. Driver
1 12 Will Power
2 9 Scott Dixon
3 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay
4 1 Simon Pagenaud
5 3 Helio Castroneves
6 15 Graham Rahal
7 8 Max Chilton
8 98 Alexander Rossi
9 20 Spencer Pigot
10 22 Juan Pablo Montoya
11 2 Josef Newgarden
12 26 Takuma Sato
13 5 James Hinchcliffe
14 21 JR Hildebrand
15 14 Carlos Munoz
16 27 Marco Andretti
17 4 Conor Daly
18 7 Mikhail Aleshin
19 19 Ed Jones
20 10 Tony Kanaan
21 83 Charlie Kimball
22 18 Sebastien Bourdais

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