INDYCAR: Indianapolis 500 recap

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And just like that, the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 is now in the history books, and the Verizon IndyCar Series switches gears to full championship mode the rest of the way.

Sunday was most certainly different than previous years in the DW-12 era. Gone was the slip-streaming madness that created lead changes seemingly on every lap and in its place was a more tactical race defined by car setup, race strategy and surviving slick conditions produced by an incredibly hot day.

Yet while very different in nature, this year was equally as enthralling, nail-biting and intriguing as any that we’ve seen in recent years, thanks in part to a genuinely great driver checking off the only missing box on his resume, a host of strategy plays that put some unexpected names near the front, a number of big names encountering problems and much more.

A recap of talking points from the 102nd Indy 500:

Power’s Storied Career Is Now Finally Complete

Will Power celebrates his victory in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Photo: IndyCar

“DJ Willy P” has been one of the best Verizon IndyCar Series drivers of his generation for a very long time. Power’s victory tally sits at 34, and 31 have come with Team Penske, making him their winningest IndyCar driver ever. Sunday’s win put him one clear of Helio Castroneves.

With 51 poles, Power is something of a qualifying master, a facet of his driving that has been at the forefront ever since he joined Penske in 2009.

And with a championship to his name in 2014, Power had checked off every significant box an IndyCar driver can … except one.

The Indianapolis 500 had always eluded him, and outside of a second-place effort to Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015 – a race in which Power was a strong contender for victory – Power’s Indy 500 history was far from stellar.

He left the pits early after his first pit stop in 2010 and took part of the fuel buckeye with him (he eventually finished eighth). In 2011, he again left the pits early, this time before the left-rear tire had been secured, and it fell off immediately after he left the pits (he eventually finished 14th).

He crashed out in 2012 and was a non-factor in 2013, ’14, and ’16 (he finished 19th, eighth, and 10th those years), and he crashed out again in ’17.

And, despite a 2011 victory at Texas Motor Speedway, his oval prowess wasn’t a strong suit of his early career either. Case in point: In 2012, he had four finishes of 12th or worse on ovals, featuring three crashes, including one at the season finale at Auto Club Speedway. The combination of those issues cost him a championship that year to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

But recent years have seen him become an oval-meister. He has wins at Auto Club (2013), The Milwaukee Mile (2014), Pocono Raceway (2016 and 2017) and Texas Motor Speedway (2017).

Still, a lack of success at Indy remained a black eye on an otherwise stellar career…until Sunday.

Indeed, Sunday’s victory cements Power’s legacy as one of the sport’s genuine greats. And his emotions afterward demonstrate how much it means to him.

“Overwhelming,” Power said. “Amazing. It’s funny, you forget where you are, you’re so immersed in the race. You don’t even realize. On the white-flag lap, I started screaming because I just knew I was going to win it. Unbelievable. Never been so excited.”

At 37, Power may be on the back end of his career. But while he admitted an Indy win was the last thing on his list, don’t expect him to back off any time soon.

“It was the last box to tick, to be considered as a very successful driver,” he asserted. “I’m not done. I’m not done. Like, I still have plenty of time left to win more 500s and championships and races.”

Power now leads the championship by two points over Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi.

Hot, Slick Conditions and Low Downforce Take Toll on Some Big Names

Danica Patrick was one of many to crash as a result hot, slick conditions. Photo: IndyCar

Sunday’s Indy 500 was the second hottest on record, and the combination of heat, high track temperatures, altered weight distribution on the cars and lower downforce wreaked havoc.

Danica Patrick, Ed Jones, Sebastien Bourdais, Sage Karam, Helio Castroneves, and Tony Kanaan all spun by themselves – Patrick, Jones, and Kanaan exiting Turn 2, with Karam, Bourdais, and Castroneves doing so in Turns 3 and 4.

Throw in James Davison (whose roll bar adjuster reportedly malfunctioned) and his crash with Takuma Sato, and you have no fewer than seven incidents on-track … nearly all of which were sparked by tricky conditions.

Debate has already begun about what could be done to improve things for next year. Regardless, Sunday’s race was an exhibition in car control on a track that wanted to inflict punishment. And some big names, and their cars, left Indy definitely feeling punished.

Underdogs Nearly Have Their Day

While the powerhouse Team Penske operation took its 17th Indy 500 victory, adding to their already immense record, several smaller teams nearly pulled off a big upset.

Ed Carpenter may have had the best car on Sunday, leading a race-high 65 laps, but a pit stop sequence allowed Power to get ahead of him, and he never was able to find his way back around, ultimately settling for second.

And in the final laps, Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, and Jack Harvey found themselves 1-2-3 before a restart with seven laps remaining.

All three had gone off-strategy to do so, but they appeared to have just enough pace to stay up front in the event their fuel lasted.

Servia, driving for Indy 500 debutants Scuderia Corsa (aligned with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) led 12 laps.

Stefan Wilson, in a one-off entry for Andretti Autosport, led three laps after taking the lead from Servia on the aforementioned restart. Wilson’s moment in the sun was particularly heartwarming, given the difficulty he has faced in recent years, both in his driving career (he gave up an Indy 500 ride last year to allow Fernando Alonso to participate) and, of course, following the death of older brother Justin.

Jack Harvey and Meyer Shank Racing deserve kudos as well for giving it a shot, and they ran second in the final laps behind Wilson.

All three ended up pitting for splashes of fuel, and finished 15th (Wilson), 16th (Harvey), and 17th (Servia).

But, their presence at the front created a refreshing surprise that added a perfect amount of late-race drama.

Misc.

  • Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi combined to have the two best drives of the day. Rahal finished 10th after starting 30th, leading 12 laps, while Rossi came home a remarkable fourth after starting 32nd. Their charges through the field were mighty impressive, and Rossi was worth the price of admission by himself with a pair of outside moves on late-race restarts. Both will be disappointed to miss out on victories, but they and their teams have a lot to be proud of for good results from troublesome starting spots.
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay had one of the quietest drives to fifth place ever. The 2014 Indy 500 winner was in the top five prior to the halfway point but never could get up with the other leaders to mount a real challenge for the lead. Nevertheless, the result was a nice shot in the arm that helped him immensely in the championship.
  • Kudos should be given to the four rookies. Robert Wickens (ninth), Matheus Leist (13th), and Zachary Claman De Melo (17th) all finished with solid days. And while Kyle Kaiser didn’t make the end (due to a mechanical failure), he kept his nose clean prior to that and deserved more than to see his day end early.
  • It was genuinely sad to see Danica Patrick’s racing career end with a crash. Regardless, she made a positive impact on the sport in several ways, and her presence will be missed.

With that, attention now turns to the Raceway at Belle Isle Park for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, the lone doubleheader of the IndyCar season.

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IndyCar champion Will Power completes ‘Victory Lap’ at ceremony in Indianapolis

Will Power Victory Lap
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power went on his “Victory Lap” last week to celebrate his second career championship as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.

It began with several media interviews in Monterey, California, the day after he won the championship with a third-place finish in the Sept. 11 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

From there, it was off to Los Angeles for more interviews and personal appearances that included a VIP Tour at the Petersen Automotive Museum, several appearances on SiriusXM and lunch at The Ivy, where the Team Penske IndyCar Series driver was treated to Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Power told NBCSports.com.

From L.A. back to Power’s North Carolina home, near Team Penske’s home base of Mooresville, there was one stop left on Sept. 17 — the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, an invitation-only banquet where Power and his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet crew at Team Penske were honored for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

They didn’t even have to check into a hotel and spend another night on the road. Power and his team left on a Team Penske plane from the Statesville, N.C., airport at 4 p.m. ET Saturday to fly to Indianapolis. On arrival an hour later, a limo bus took the team to IMS.

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season for the fifth time in his career. Power also made history with his 68th career pole, breaking the all-time mark held by the legendary Mario Andretti.

Power and Scott Dixon also became just two of only five drivers to complete every lap of every race in IndyCar Series history.

“What a year,” Power said as he was awarded his personal Astor Cup trophy (the second in his collection after the 2014 championship. “What a phenomenal year coming off one of my worst seasons personally. We came back with a vengeance.

“I want to thank Roger and Kathy Penske for everything they have done for me over the years. I wouldn’t be standing here and have the numbers I have without what Roger has done for me. I’m given a car every week that is capable of winning the pole, races, championships, and Indianapolis 500s. I’m so grateful for that.

“Also, to Greg Penske, you are there every week now at every event and I know we will be in good hands moving forward with the Penske Family.”

There are many on Power’s team and at home, that helped support Power throughout his career. None is bigger than Power’s wife, Liz, who told Power before the season that he would win the championship and break Andretti’s record.

“I must thank my wife. I’m so lucky to have a wife with that crystal ball that can tell me what is going to happen,” Power said. “I can’t think you enough, babe. I love you so much and you have been a big support to me my whole career. We’ve been together 17 years, and I’ve been in the series 17 years. She has been such a huge support to me. The mother of our child and she is a fantastic mother.

“She can’t tell the future. She just had faith in me.”

Liz Power’s premonition came true and that allowed Power and his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet team to celebrate Penske’s 17th IndyCar championship and 42nd title in the racing team’s history.

“The 12 crew this year, I’ve never had such a great group of guys,” Power said. “Trevor Lacasse (chief mechanic) is such a calm guy, but he does such a meticulous job on the preparation of the car. He is very, very good at keeping the whole crew happy. It feels as if there is no pressure on us. That’s a huge part in getting the most out of people. It was our first year together with you as a crew chief. What a great year to start our relationship.

“Dave Faustino (Power’s longtime engineer), we’ve worked together for 15 years. He’s almost like a wife to me, a partner … apart from sleeping together. We have a very good working relationship. Sorry Dave, I’m an awkward person and you are not.

“The things we have been through in our years together, it’s crazy that we continually improve and get better. We are standing on the podium after winning the championship and we are talking about the car, the race, and the tires. We weren’t talking about the championship.

“We never stop. The other boys were laughing at us, but I’m already thinking about next year.

“Ron Ruzewski (Team Penske IndyCar Managing Director and strategist) on the radio, always calm. He has actually made me a calm person. I rarely get upset on the radio anymore.”

Power also recognized the fans who helped boost attendance at many venues on the schedule this season as NBC Sports enjoyed its largest IndyCar audience yet.

“This series is growing,” Power said. “With open wheel racing now so popular because of Formula One, it’s really our time to push and put money behind it and go now and take IndyCar to another level because we have the best racing product in the world.

“I have to thank my teammates and (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric. I can’t tell you how hard we push each other. We are ultracompetitive and love each other and push each other hard, so thank you.”


Power won the championship by 16 points over hard-charging teammate Josef Newgarden, who finished second in the standings for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said in his banquet address. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight, especially with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“Will, tremendous season, great, great job. I think the world of everybody on our team. It’s a big group. I’m so happy for all of you on the 12-car crew. There is so much we can take into next year.”

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was unable to attend the banquet because of the Goodwood Festival in England but sent congratulations to Power via a video message.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power,” Dixon said. “You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins but only six podiums.

Cindric saluted Power’s season in accepting the championship team owner award.

“Will, you took it to another level this year,” Cindric said. “You are the complete package. You completed every lap, had nine podiums, finished out of the top 10 just four times, broke Mario Andretti’s record, and you did it all without cussing at the officials on national TV.

“One complaint I do has is while most of us think you might be from another planet, you never told us your wife was a fortune teller.”

Cindric also honored the seasons of Penske drivers Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who won three times in his second full season (“You are one of only two full-time IndyCar drivers that has driven for us in the past 23 years that hasn’t won an Indy 500 or an IndyCar championship. Your time is coming.”).

Kyle Moyer was named team manager of the year (his fifth time and Penske’s sixth). Pennzoil presented Lacasse with the chief mechanic of the year for the first time, the sixth time for Team Penske. The No. 12 crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for the most pit stop performance award points in 2022.

Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.


Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar rookie of the year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Christian Lundgaard (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

“It’s been a tough season and looking at how it panned out, we struggled so much at the beginning of the season and how we were able to turn it around means so much to me and the team,” Lundgaard said. “It’s the one thing that you only get one shot at. I’m happy to have it.

“Being the first Dane at the Indy 500 certainly helps. Competing here for me is quite important and also special. To win this award and to be here in future years means so much to me. I have a chance to compete for wins and championships.

“This team gave me this opportunity at this track one year ago. We came back and got redemption. We got our first podium here. This year was 40 years ago that Bobby Rahal won the same award. It’s pretty special to keep it among the team.”

Sweden’s Linus Lundqvist was honored as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb. HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and Daiva Malukas accepted the team championship.

“I’m very proud of that,” Lundqvist said. “It’s cool to see. We are starting to look to the future, and this might not be doing too bad. It’s been great. As most of you can guess with Henry and Daiva Malukas (team owners), it’s been an incredible journey. So much fun that we’ve had. To be on the grid this year was so much of a struggle for us. I didn’t even know I would be doing this until January.

“To be able to pull out the season that we had, I cannot thank this team enough. We will celebrate this for a long time. I’m so happy and proud about that.”

Outgoing IndyCar Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Geoffrey Billows also was honored as he is leaving that role while battling cancer.

“When I think of Dr. Billows, I think of two words,” IndyCar president Jay Frye said. “One is selfless and the other is tough. He’s gone through a lot these last couple of years, and he didn’t want anybody to know. He’s an amazing man, and we are very grateful for what you have done.”

Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar president Jay Frye (Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment)

Billows was presented with a framed checkered flag signed by all drivers in the series as well as other IndyCar officials and dignitaries.

“I was not expecting this at all,” Billows said. “This means so much for me to be part of this family for the past 30 years. I’ve been presented with opportunities I never thought I would ever have. I can’t tell you how much I love all of you guys and care for all of you guys.

“Thank you so much. I want to also thank my wife, Tammy, who has been a pillar of strength as I continue on this journey with cancer for the past two years as well. You will still see me as a consultant because I love this too much to quit altogether.”

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded a bus to the airport for the short return flight to Statesville. They were home by midnight.

Power’s Victory Lap was complete.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500