Power scores second win of 2014 in Detroit Dual 1

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Despite starting 16th, Will Power overcame to win his second Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season, Dual 1 of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.

The result, surprisingly, is Power’s first podium finish at Belle Isle Park in Detroit. His previous best result was fourth in 2012.

Power was involved in two semi-controversial moments. He made contact with Simon Pagenaud, his Long Beach sparring partner early in the race, but escaped as Pagenaud contacted the wall off Turn 6.

Meanwhile in the waning stages, Power emerged ahead of Graham Rahal after a number of pit stop sequences sorted themselves out for the final 10-lap sprint to the finish.

On a restart, Power was issued a warning for blocking against Rahal. Rahal still had a shot to catch and pass Power, but came up short of an elusive second career Verizon IndyCar Series victory (2008 St. Petersburg).

Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, held on by 0.3308 of a second over Rahal.

“Every time I backed off a little bit, I knew he was quick,” Power said of his American pursuer. “No way if he got by me, I’d get back by him.

“I know he’s one of the best guys in the paddock. I had my work cut out for me.”

As it was, second place was a needed shot in the arm for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, and for the driver of the No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda.

Rahal had not earned a Top-10 result in the first five races of the season, and was coming off an electrical failure at the Indianapolis 500 that caused him to finish in last place.

“With the year we have had, with the luck we’ve had, for things to turn around finally and get a good result means more than we can possibly tell you,” he said after his first podium since Long Beach 2013.

“To bounce back here – it’s only half of the weekend, but of course it feels great to be in this position.”

Tony Kanaan finished a season-best third in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, adorned this weekend in black Energizer colors.

Justin Wilson and Helio Castroneves completed the top five after making it there on opposite strategies. Wilson rose from 19th on the grid while Castroneves ended fifth after starting on pole.

While battling Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay overcooked his entry into Turn 8 on the final lap, and fell back to 16th place at the finish.

That move has potential serious championship implications, as now RHR leads Power by just three points unofficially (288-285).

“At the end, I’m not really sure what happened,” the new Indianapolis 500 champion said. “Marco seemed to be struggling on fuel and I got inside of him and just lost the rear of the car.”

For his part though, Power remains relatively unworried about points for now.

“I guess at some point, you have to know [the standings],” he said. “I think you just go out and race, not stupidly or over-aggressively, but you just go out and race without points in your mind.”

Race 2 of the weekend occurs tomorrow afternoon at 3:50 p.m. ET. Qualifying occurs at 10 a.m. ET.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES – CHEVROLET INDY DUAL IN DETROIT, RACE 1
Belle Isle Park
Race Results with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, team-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (16) Will Power, Penske/Chevy, 70, Running
2. (9) Graham Rahal, RLL/Honda, 70, Running
3. (8) Tony Kanaan, Ganassi/Chevy, 70, Running
4. (19) Justin Wilson, Coyne/Honda, 70, Running
5. (1) Helio Castroneves, Penske/Chevy, 70, Running
6. (2) James Hinchcliffe, Andretti/Honda, 70, Running
7. (11) Carlos Munoz, Andretti/Honda, 70, Running
8. (12) Carlos Huertas, Coyne/Honda, 70, Running
9. (20) Charlie Kimball, Ganassi/Chevy, 70, Running
10. (18) Marco Andretti, Andretti/Honda, 70, Running
11. (10) Scott Dixon, Ganassi/Chevy, 70, Running
12. (6) Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske/Chevy, 70, Running
13. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH/Chevy, 70, Running
14. (13) Sebastian Saavedra, KV-AFS/Chevy, 70, Running
15. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi/Chevy, 70, Running
16. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti/Honda, -1 lap
17. (22) Mikhail Aleshin, SPM/Honda, -2 laps
18. (15) Takuma Sato, Foyt/Honda, -4 laps
19. (3) Jack Hawksworth, Herta/Honda, -5 laps
20. (14) Josef Newgarden, SFHR/Honda, Lap 36 – Contact
21. (4) Mike Conway, Carpenter/Chevy, Lap 14 – Contact
22. (17) Simon Pagenaud, SPM/Honda, Lap 4 – Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 90.138 mph
Time of race: One hour, 49 minutes, 29.9323 seconds
Margin of victory: 0.3308 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 17
Lead changes: 10 among 7 drivers

Lap Leaders
Castroneves, 1-16
Rahal, 17-25
Andretti, 26
Power, 27-29
Aleshin, 30-31
Castroneves, 32-45
Dixon, 46
Power, 47-53
Rahal, 54
Briscoe, 55-59
Power, 60-70

Point Standings: Hunter-Reay 288, Power 285, Castroneves 254, Pagenaud 219, Andretti 213, Munoz 186, Montoya 170, Bourdais 160, Wilson 155, Dixon 152.

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IndyCar’s 2018 full-field grid nearing completion

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Following Wednesday’s confirmation of the all-Canadian tandem at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, each of the eight full-time teams in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season have announced at least one driver for 2018, leaving very few remaining question marks.

What stands confirmed is below:

CONFIRMED

  • Team Penske (3, Chevrolet): Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power
  • Chip Ganassi Racing (1, Honda): Scott Dixon
  • Andretti Autosport (4, Honda): Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti, Zach Veach
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2, Honda): Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato
  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2, Honda): James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (2, Chevrolet): Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter (ovals)
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (1, Chevrolet): Tony Kanaan
  • Dale Coyne Racing (1, Honda): Sebastien Bourdais
  • Harding Racing (1, Chevrolet): Gabby Chaves

There are four additional drivers confirmed for selected races or an month of May program:

  • Team Penske (1, Chevrolet): Helio Castroneves
  • Andretti Autosport (1, Honda): Stefan Wilson
  • Calmels Sport with SPM (1, Honda): Tristan Gommendy
  • Team TBD (1, TBD): Kyle Kaiser

All told that’s 17 full-season driver and team combinations confirmed and four additional part-time programs, at least, that are set. Several of those driver/team combinations will have engineering and strategist changes, as well.

In a minor note since our last update at Sonoma, Marco Andretti confirmed he won’t run No. 27 next year. Of note, Bryan Herta served as Andretti’s race strategist this year, although the car he was an entrant on was Alexander Rossi’s No. 98 car. Herta will continue his relationship with Andretti Autosport again next season.

WHAT’S LEFT TO SORT? NOT MUCH

Elsewhere, there’s only a handful of remaining question marks as the series hits mid-October, a rarity from past years and an illustration of the urgency to fill seats to get as much preparation time in testing with the new 2018 Dallara universal aero kit as possible.

NBC Sports expects 2016 Indy Lights champion and 2017 IndyCar rookie-of-the-year Ed Jones to be confirmed soon as second driver in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda alongside Sebastien Bourdais, with team personnel and Bourdais both having indicated a preference in keeping the Dubai-based Brit for a second year.

NBC Sports also expects Jones’ successor as Indy Lights champion, Kyle Kaiser, to have his future announced shortly in terms of which team he’ll step up to IndyCar with. It would not be a surprise if Kaiser does graduate along with Juncos Racing, although Kaiser is known to have talked to multiple teams. The Mazda Motorsports scholarship nets him $1 million for a three-race program, including the 102nd Indianapolis 500, with the driver then needing to secure additional funding for further races, as Jones and Pigot both have each of the last two years.

The status of Brendon Hartley has now been thrown up as a slight question mark dependent on how his Formula 1 debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso goes at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, and if Toro Rosso provides him a further race opportunity in one of the remaining three Grands Prix thereafter. Having been all-but-earmarked for Chip Ganassi Racing’s second seat in 2018, if an F1 offer comes, Hartley’s potential IndyCar bow could get delayed.

A McLaren-named entry competing either in the Indianapolis 500 or full-time seems further off than realistic for next year, McLaren’s Zak Brown told reporters on a teleconference this week. McLaren maintains an IndyCar technical presence though, via its McLaren Applied Technologies outfit.

What’s left then are the dominoes of whether Carlin’s IndyCar plans officially come to fruition as the team has gotten closer than it ever has to doing so, and who emerges in the second seats at A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Ed Carpenter Racing (road and street courses), respectively.

A number of young IndyCar veterans – Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball, Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly namely – are yet to land for 2018 and there’s no guarantee all four of them will be back in IndyCar next season.

There’s also a handful of young drivers, namely RC Enerson, Jack Harvey, Esteban Gutierrez, Santiago Urrutia, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Sage Karam and Matthew Brabham among others, who could well emerge in the frame for seats.

Gutierrez’s status seemed dependent on Mexico City being added to the 2018 calendar, and although the race still could be added, the fact neither is in place at this point doesn’t inspire as much confidence about his presence as a regular on the grid as it did earlier this summer.

All told, there’s not nearly that much to sort out as IndyCar’s grid for 2018 is looking very much close to set at this early stage of a long offseason.