IndyCar: Power on the podium with 3rd-place run in Toronto Race 2 (VIDEO)

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A third-place finish from Will Power in today’s second race of the Honda Indy Toronto helped minimize the points damage he took earlier today in the first, 65-lap run around Exhibition Place.

Power finished ninth in Race 1 and fell back to 28 points behind teammate and Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Helio Castroneves.

But with his Race 2 podium, he was able to claw back within 13 of the Brazilian, who finished 12th in the “nightcap” with front wing damage after starting from the pole position on entrant points.

All in all, it could have been much worse for Power. On Saturday, he spun and hit the Turn 10 wall in wet conditions as the field was coming to what would’ve been the green flag for Race 1 (which was eventually postponed to this morning without ever starting; Power’s crew was allowed to repair the car under a red flag on Saturday, but had to start Race 1 from the rear).

Rain again made an appearance during today’s Race 2 and made an impact on the days of several competitors. The 1.75-mile Exhibition Place street course dried out as the race headed into its final stages, but after what occurred to him on Saturday, Power was in no mood to fight Tony Kanaan late for runner-up honors.

“Tony was very good on this half-wet track, but man, I just wasn’t willing after yesterday to take a big risk and get caught out again,” Power said to NBCSN.

“I still had to battle hard there with [fourth-place] Charlie [Kimball] all over me. But it was a good day. A typical IndyCar race – it throws everything at you, but you just gotta survive and that’s what we did.”

Power passed Castroneves for the lead at Lap 42 of 65, two laps before a full-course yellow came out for Sebastian Saavedra going into the tires at Turn 3.

Under that caution, Power and the rest of the leaders came to pit road for dry tires. But while he won the race off pit road, a group of five drivers that included eventual winner Mike Conway stayed out for track position.

Following the restart on Lap 49, Power had moved up to fourth by the time Kimball and Carlos Huertas made contact in Turn 3 to touch off a stack-up behind them.

The red flag was then thrown with four minutes and 32 seconds remaining, as the race had gone to a 80-minute time limit by this point. But when the green re-emerged with less than three minutes left, Power was able to move up to third and claim his sixth podium of 2014.

And now, with four races remaining in the season, Power can go into the off-weekend knowing that his chances of claiming a first series championship remain very good.

“Every time you’re gaining points, it’s great,” he said. “It’s going to be a fight to the end. Man, I want it. I want it.”

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”