Power dominates another St. Pete race from pole, but reflective post-race

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ST. PETERSBURG – This isn’t the first time this has happened.

In each of 2011, 2012 and 2013, Will Power scored the pole for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and on each occasion, he came up shy of the win.

The first two years, he came second to Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves respectively. JR Hildebrand’s aerial attack under a caution period resigned Power to a lapped 16th place finish in 2013.

This year Power was second again, and second to a third different driver in Juan Pablo Montoya.

Power led 75 of the 110 laps in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series curtain-raiser, but none of the last 28 after emerging behind Montoya on the final pit stop sequence.

Power said in his post-race TV interview that his one move on Montoya, attempting to pass on the inside going into Turn 10 on Lap 99, was optimistic but possible.

“Yeah that was a place I could kinda get a run on him,” Power said. “It was the only chance I had. I think he saw me. It was kind of optimistic but it was possible. He didn’t give me anything. It was kind of my only chance.”

The defending series champion elaborated on it during the post-race press conference, although was in very good spirits despite the result.

“You know how these races go,” Power admitted. “That’s the thing I enjoy about IndyCar racing. It doesn’t matter where you were at. If you just hang in there, you can have a good day.

“Yes, it’s a little bit disappointing to lead so many laps and end up second. But it came down to tire choice. I put on the (Firestone) reds and he put on the blacks. It allowed him to jump me in the pits. If there’s a gap, one chance, I went for it. We rubbed a little. But I gotta put a bit of a show on for the fans.”

Power admitted his gamble, to go for the gap on corner entry into Turn 10, was actually aided by the new aero kits rather than hindered by it.

“You can go for gaps with this car that you wouldn’t with the old car,” Power explained. “I wouldn’t have gone for it with the old car. If I missed a bit, we’d both go off and into the wall.”

The other element Power addressed post-race was a brief traffic hangup between he and rookie Sage Karam in the race’s final 10 laps. Power said Karam, in his second start in the series and first with Chip Ganassi Racing, did everything he could to get out of the way as quick as possible.

“It was a hard situation. Sage tried to get out of the way. He moved out the way as quick as he could,” Power said. “Yeah, that’s tough. It happens in racing. If you’re leading, you love it. All that stuff comes and goes and works itself out.”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.