IndyCar

POWER-ful show: Will Power dominates to capture 3rd INDYCAR Grand Prix

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Will Power held off low fuel, a few late rain drops and a hard charging Scott Dixon to win his second consecutive INDYCAR Grand Prix and third overall Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Power led 55 of the race’s 85 laps to earn his first win of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season and his 33rd career IndyCar win. It was also the third time he won the Grand Prix from the pole in the race’s five-year history.

“I definitely am going to relax for a couple days because I’m exhausted, I’m tired,” Power said.

Now, Power turns his attention to the Indianapolis 500, perhaps the biggest void to his career as he’s never won the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, I can’t wait,” Power said.

Power’s win was also Team Penske’s 200th career IndyCar win.

“It’s amazing, it shows the dedication that Roger has to winning, the quality of the team and it’s just a real honor to drive for him,” Power said of team owner Roger Penske. “I’m real privileged to drive for him.”

Dixon finished second, 2.2443 seconds behind Power, followed by Robert Wickens.

“We really chased our tails this weekend,” Dixon said. “We made a kind of bad change in qualifying (on Friday) and changed just about everything but the kitchen sink. And I guess we needed to change the kitchen sink, too.

“We made some big gains this morning and got the car fairly well-balanced and just played strategy.”

Wickens admitted he needs to become more proficient at fuel saving, as he was in save mode for most of the second half of the race.

“I guess I’m not as efficient at fuel saving, but we made it,” Wickens said. “(Dixon) got past me on push-to-pass … but at the end, I got on the podium.

“It’s the first time I had to save fuel like that, would have liked a higher finish, but I can’t complain.”

St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais and Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five.

“I was loose most of the race and when I’d gain on someone, I’d lose just enough grip that I couldn’t really quite close the gap,” Bourdais said. ”

Sixth through 10th were Helio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe, two-time Grand Prix winner Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato.

Action was hot and heavy right from the green flag.

On the opening lap, Simon Pagenaud touched wheels with Takuma Sato and was then tapped from behind by Jordan King coming out of Turn 2, spinning Pagenaud. While Pagenaud was able to continue on, King was stuck in the gravel and had to be towed out.

Then, just a couple turns later, Spencer Pigot soared over the rumble strip and went airborne, clipping Sato, who was able to continue. Pigot was penalized for avoidable contact and had to do a pass-through on pit lane.

Pole sitter Will Power held the lead through the first 24 laps before outside pole sitter Robert Wickens was able to get by Power for the lead.

On Lap 51, Power edged past Wickens to regain the lead and began to pull away – until an incident involving Power’s Team Penske teammate.

On Lap 55, defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden came into Turn 12 too hot while trying to pass Sebastien Bourdais, looped it around and landed in the grass, unable to exit under his own power.

Power broke out to another big lead shortly after the restart on Lap 62, while Wickens and Scott Dixon traded places (second and third) on Lap 64.

Dixon, who started an uncharacteristic 18th, methodically worked his way through the pack and continued to close in on Power in the final 20 laps.

Wickens fell more than 5.5 seconds off the pace between laps 65 and 75, while Alexander Rossi tried to keep pace in fourth. Both drivers – as well as second-running Dixon – needed a late caution, but they would not get it, and Power would roll to his second straight win in the GP and third overall (also won in 2015).

Newgarden finished 11th but maintains a two-point lead in the series’ standings over Rossi.

 

Now, the series begins two weeks of preparation, practices and qualifying (May 19-20) before the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

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Five things to watch for in Bommarito Auto Group 500 at Gateway

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There have been five different winners in the last five weeks of the NTT IndyCar season and driver that kicked off that streak in Elkhart Lake is in desperate need of a victory to help close the points gap to the leader. After being involved in the Lap 1 accident at Pocono Raceway last week, Alexander Rossi sits 35 points behind Josef Newgarden. Rossi’s two victories this season have come on road courses.

This week’s Bommarito Auto Group 500 the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is the third race on this track since IndyCar first revisited it in 2017. Newgarden took the checkers in 2017; Will Power grabbed the glory last year. Gateway also hosted races from 2001-2003.

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:

  1. For most of the drivers in the field, this will mark only their third time to race at Gateway, but two drivers were around in 2003 when IndyCar visited this track previously. Scott Dixon finished 15th in that race. He found the handle when Indy returned in 2017 to finish second and then third last year. Tony Kanaan was second in 2003; unfortunately he went the other direction and has not scored a top-10 at Gateway since.
  2. If one is looking for perfection on this track type, Simon Pagenaud is the only driver to sweep the top 10 on ovals in the past two years. In his last 10 starts on them, he has garnered an average finish of 5.2; his last five attempts have been sixth or better including a win in this year’s Indy 500. Pagenaud finished third at Gateway in 2017 and was fourth last year.
  3. The top two drivers in the points standings should also challenge for a top-five this week. Rossi was perfect alongside Pagenaud on ovals until his accident last week at Pocono with a sweep of the top 10 and seven top-fives in his last nine races. Newgarden also has nine top-10s and a worst of 13th on ovals in the past two years.
  4. Don’t count Dixon out of the points battle yet. While he currently sits 52 points out of first, Dixon is the hottest driver on the circuit with a current streak of five top-fives to his credit including his victory at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago. His oval record is a little spottier with two runner-up finishes and two 17th-place finishes in the last four races.
  5. Last week’s first-lap carnage ended Rossi’s top-10 streak at seven, but one other driver was able to sneak through and extend his. Graham Rahal will vie for his ninth consecutive top-10 this week, but that success is questionable in light of his Gateway record. Rahal finished 12th in 2017 and was barely able to crack the top 10 in 10th last year.

See More: IndyCar championship contenders seeing fortunes rise and drop

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