Power dominates IndyCar’s return to Road America

1 Comment

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – At a weekend that brought memories of nostalgia in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Road America for the first time since 2007, there were memories of domination past out front.

All day and all weekend belonged to Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

In a vintage virtuoso Power performance, the Australian led 46 of 50 laps in the KOHLER Grand Prix to secure his 27th career victory and second in a row, after also winning the second race in Detroit three weeks ago.

It’s also Power’s first win at Road America after finishes of 13th and 16th in the Champ Car races there in 2006 and 2007.

Points leader Simon Pagenaud was poised to finish second before Tony Kanaan, who put up a great weekend of his own in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, passed him on Lap 47.

Kanaan then put on a clinic in the final few laps to close up on Firestone reds while Power was on blacks, but despite getting within 0.4 of a second on Lap 49, he fell back to 0.7249 of a second back on the final lap.

“TK he had the reds on, and he was coming ahead. He was quick all race,” Power told NBCSN in Victory Lane. “I had my work cut out but I just did everything I could to stay ahead. So stoked to get the Verizon car in victory lane. Thanks to Chevy, phenomenal car, phenomenal engine. Man, we won. So stoked!

“It’s just a great place, just so stoked to win in that way. I was so stoked. I badly wanted to win another race. I needed that one.”

Kanaan was excited for both the weekend and his race, although frustrated to come up short of his first win since 2014.

Graham Rahal also got past in the No. 15 Gehl/D-A Lubricant Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for third. Kanaan and Rahal had a huge moment earlier in the race when Kanaan moved to avoid hitting Rahal, who merged out into the fast lane of the race track into Turn 1, and Kanaan swept past on the inside anyway.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves completed the top five, after Pagenaud started slipping down the order. The likely engine issue resigned the series points leader to a 13th place finish.

Elsewhere, Josef Newgarden finished eighth in his return while driving injured, just behind Charlie Kimball and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Two other Ganassi cars had issues; Scott Dixon was first out with an engine issue, and Max Chilton ran out of fuel prior to a pit stop.

Arguably the hardest luck driver of the day was Conor Daly, who was poised for another top-10 for Dale Coyne Racing. But on Lap 40, Daly had an apparent left rear suspension break that led to a crash out in Turn 1.

Daly later confirmed a left rear lower wishbone snap.

He had ran in the top six most of the race.

Unofficially Pagenaud leads Castroneves by 74 points after the race. The series heads to Iowa Speedway on July 10.

Results are below:

RAunofficial

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
3 Comments

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.