Lapped traffic, late-race misfortune costs Power chance at Pocono win

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Entering Sunday’s ABC Supply 500, Will Power was aiming for his third win in a row at Pocono Raceway. And while Alexander Rossi had the dominant car on the day, Power was keeping him in sight, even closing in as they encountered traffic.

Power also began conserving fuel to extend his stints in hopes of leapfrogging Rossi during an exchange of pit stops – that strategy saw him lead for a short period after a pit cycle on Lap 138.

However, he then got balked by lapped traffic, allowing Rossi to retake the lead on Lap 140.

And ahead of his final stop, Power, who again ran longer than Rossi in hopes of leapfrogging him, was balked again, this time in Turn 3 as he caught Max Chilton in the middle of the corner. Power nearly pushed out into the wall trying to avoid Chilton, which cost him precious time on track.

Things got worse on his out-lap when he experienced a bizarre shifting problem that saw his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet shift only midway through second gear.

The combination of those incidents ultimately prevented Power from challenging Rossi and from taking his third victory in a row at Pocono.

“Just got a couple of bad runs out of (Turn 1), to be honest,” Power explained when asked how Rossi got back around on Lap 140. “(He got) beside me going into Turn 2. Yeah, that was that. Then in the last pit stop, we had a great shot at getting him again. I caught Max Chilton at the worst possible spot in Turn 3, washed right up into the marbles, almost got into the wall.”

Power continued “On the out lap (after the last stop), got a mid shift in second. Lost a second in that whole exchange. That was our only shot to close the gap to him. If we didn’t jump him in that exchange, it was going to be very difficult to get him.”

The second-place effort does make it three podiums in a row at Pocono for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, and Power remains fourth in the championship. However, he is 81 points behind Dixon, and in need of some help if he is to get back into the championship picture.

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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
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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.