Indy 500: Even with draft, Will Power fine with leading at white flag

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Last year’s Indy 500 produced a record 68 lead changes thanks mostly to the mega holes punched in the air by the Dallara DW12, which effectively turned every leader into a sitting duck.

But Team Penske’s Will Power said Thursday that he wouldn’t mind being the leader with one lap to go in Sunday’s race despite the emphasis on the draft.

“I think I would like to be leading on the last lap because I think you can stay ahead, although you’ll work that out in the race,” he said. “You’ll have a good idea whether you’ll be in front or not.”

As for the 2014 running, Power – like just about everybody else – expects a similar race to last year.

“It’ll be exactly the same but everybody gets smarter every year, don’t they?,” he said. “They start to think, ‘Do I really wanna lead?’ Because they’ll be burning fuel. It constantly changes, and everyone turns up in better cars, so it’s that much tighter.”

Power entered the Month of May as the Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader but that battle is truly set to begin one week from now with the doubleheader at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park.

Right now, the focus in the ‘500’ and Power has been raring to go since the post-qualifying practice session on Monday that enabled teams to work on race set-up.

“We’re ready,” the front-row starter said. “We were ready Monday…I didn’t really want to start getting lost and be unsure going into the race. It was another session to try different things if you were unsure, but I was pretty confident in my car.”

“Not that many people have a chance to win this, but I’m just focusing on what I can do and put myself in position all day. That’s what I’m focusing on. Whether I can do it or not, I don’t know.

“But I’m absolutely putting everything into a solid, good race and being there at the end.”

Power has made significant strides in oval racing as his win at Fontana in last year’s season finale can attest. But his fortunes at Indy have been mixed, as he has just one Top-5 in six career ‘500’ starts.

Still, it seems like that Fontana victory gave him a whole new level of confidence when it comes to the speedways. It’ll be interesting to see if he can carry that over on Sunday.

Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

Photo: IndyCar
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

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