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