Power: “Anywhere else I’d be happy with second. Here, it sucks”

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INDIANAPOLIS – “Anywhere else I’d be happy with second. But here, it sucks.”

Second is not something Will Power is unaccustomed to.

The driver of the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet finished second in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship three years in a row, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

But having finally got one monkey off his back – his elusive first IndyCar championship last August – Power was extraordinarily focused on scoring what was becoming his elusive first Indianapolis 500 win on Sunday.

He entered with the best “feel” of his career heading into his eighth race start.

He came up 0.1046 of a second short.

Yes, in the grand scheme of things, Power had a good day and a good month of May.

He starred in winning both the pole and the race at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis earlier this month.

But he came second in both of the key sessions that mattered for the Indianapolis 500.

He qualified second behind Scott Dixon, and now ended second behind his Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya in the race.

Are they good results? Certainly.

Are they what he desired? Nope.

“Pole, win, second, second. Not what I was looking for,” Power said. “There was some great battling out there. I have to give it to the drivers in the race. Fair, clean, but close and hard. That’s all you can ask for.”

Power explained how he fell to second in the final stages of the race.

“If Dixon had stayed there, because he was on lower downforce, I could stay out front,” Power said. “I saw Juan get him. I thought I might be safe. I actually felt I could get hit back. I just had an imbalance in leading. Out front, it was loose. When you get behind, I readjusted for that.

“There’s no problem, I was running less downforce. I could draw up really quickly. It just came down to an imbalance. I just didn’t spend enough time in second place understanding what I need from the car. He comes back there, which is a smart move, because it won him the race.

“It’s a difficult position, right? If it goes yellow, you win the race. You want to lead. I really fought hard to make sure I was leading all the time. Then again, if it’s going to go green, you get a bit of experience behind the way these cars draft.

“If the car wasn’t in balance, I would have had no shot at him. Still, Team Penske, 1-2, pretty good.”

And speaking of second, the second place means Power lost 20 points to Montoya in the championship battle. He entered the Indianapolis 500 just five points behind, but he’ll unofficially be 25 behind after this race.

Still in second.

It’s a result he’ll look to change heading into Penske’s home race, the Penske-promoted Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend, next week for IndyCar’s lone doubleheader of the season.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)