Power snares another win in Toronto

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TORONTO – Will Power and Verizon Team Penske made a key strategic call prior to a crash at the Honda Indy Toronto, which positioned them to take the lead and ultimately the win in the 11th race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Power pitted on Lap 57 for his final stop in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and mere moments later, Iowa winner and defending race champion Josef Newgarden crashed out in Turn 5 on Lap 58, in a frustrating moment to end a challenging weekend.

That brought out the race’s fourth full course caution and ultimately hosed erstwhile dominant driver Scott Dixon, who had led 56 laps in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, and six others just behind him who needed to make their final stop.

Once they did, they cycled back to 13th place on back. The other six drivers caught out were Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya, Charlie Kimball, Luca Filippi, Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi.

“Tim and Will made a great call. We were a lap away,” Dixon’s strategist and Ganassi managing director Mike Hull told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee.

The aforementioned Tim Cindric, Penske Racing president and Power’s strategist said: “We’ve been on the other side of it before! What we saw there was we saw traffic, we cut our losses!”

Power restarted second behind Tony Kanaan before Kanaan pitted on Lap 76 from the lead, and once the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet resumed on course in fourth place, he set sail for the podium runners.

Power led Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe, with the latter in major fuel save mode in search of securing a hometown podium finish.

On a one-lap green flag dash to the flag, Power held them both off following a two-car separate incident with Jack Hawksworth and Juan Pablo Montoya in Turn 5.

Hawksworth later told NBC Sports he’d been hit by Pagenaud, although there was no clear evidence to support that claim.

Dixon, meanwhile, spent the remainder of the race trying to rebound from the stop under yellow and made it back to eighth. He left without commenting after a lost day where he got caught on the wrong side of a yellow flag.

Results are below:

TORONTO – Results Sunday of the Honda Indy Toronto Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.786-mile Exhibition Place circuit, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (4) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (6) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
4. (12) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (20) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 85, Running
7. (5) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (1) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
10. (22) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
11. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (18) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
13. (16) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
14. (11) Luca Filippi, Honda, 85, Running
15. (7) Conor Daly, Honda, 85, Running
16. (19) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
17. (15) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 85, Running
18. (14) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 85, Running
19. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 85, Running
20. (9) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 84, Running
21. (13) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 80, Contact
22. (8) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 57, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 88.739
Time of Race: 1:42:38.6925
Margin of victory: 1.5275 seconds
Cautions: 5 cautions for 16 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 6 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Dixon 1-26
Pagenaud 27
Bourdais 28
Daly 29
Dixon 30-59
Kanaan 60-75
Power 76-85

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 432, Power 385, Castroneves 358, Dixon 349, Newgarden 344, Kanaan 339, Rossi 300, Hinchcliffe 299, Kimball 294, Munoz 293.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will race IndyCar stars in iRacing at Michigan

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The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.

The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.

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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.

He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.

“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”

It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another  NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).