Will Power won the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway Sunday afternoon after approaching rain and lightning caused the race to end prematurely with 128 of the 200 scheduled laps complete.
The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet took the lead of the race on lap 107 and continued to pace the field until the yellow flag came out on lap 126. The win is the first of 2019 for Power, who extends his record of consecutive seasons with at least one victory to 13.
“I’m over the moon, man,” Power told NBC Sports following his victory. “I had a few issues during the race, but we just kept coming hard.
“Full credit to the team. I kinda hung there, saved fuel, and when it was time to go I went.”
Power’s win Sunday was the third in four years at Pocono. Though he’s out of the championship hunt, Power wanted to win at least one race in 2019 to extend his streak of seasons with a victory.
“I simply just wanted to win a race,” Power said. “These guys [Power’s crew] have worked their asses off all year and just haven’t had the results.”
The afternoon was certainly an up-and-down one for the No. 12 team. After moving up to third before the first red flag of the race, Power had to pit before the race restart due to an air pressure issue, placing him at the back of the pack.
However, luck was on Power’s side when he made his first pit stop on lap 41. While Power was still in the pits, Spencer Pigot hit the wall in Turn 1, causing the yellow flag to come out, which let Power exit the pits second behind Teammate Simon Pagenaud.
As the race continued, Power fell back to seventh place when pitting under another yellow, but he emerged from the pits with a set of fresh tires and made his way back to the lead by lap 107.
Power kept his lead over Scott Dixon through his final pit stop on lap 112 and held on through the final caution, which would quickly turn into the red flag that ended the race.
Dixon and Pagenaud finished the race in the second and third positions, while rookie Santino Ferrucci finished fourth and series points leader Josef Newgarden finished fifth.
All drivers would walk away from the accident safely, though Felix Rosenqvist was sent to a local hospital for further evaluations before being released a few hours later.
Just got cleared from the hospital. Definitely feel lucky escaping without any serious injuries after visiting the catch fence there… Good to see @scottdixon9 back in the championship hunt! On to Gateway next weekend 🤜🏻 #NTTDataRacing#Pocono
The NTT IndyCar Series now heads to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway for the final oval race of the 2019 season. Live coverage of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 begins Saturday, August 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
MONTEREY, California – In an international series that personifies diversity from all over the globe, the two main combatants in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship are from the United States.
Josef Newgarden of Tennessee takes a 41-point lead over Alexander Rossi of Northern California into Sunday’s double-points season finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca. This year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud of France, is just 42 points out of the lead.
It’s been quite a while since the two drivers entering the final race of the season were both Americans. Four of the top 10 drivers in the series are from the United States. Last year, five of the top 10 were from the USA.
All but one race in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series schedule is contested in the United States.
Patriotism still matters in IndyCar.
“I think so,” said Andretti Autosport driver Rossi, who is the last American driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. “I know I’ve read a lot of things from other drivers saying, ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s not important, no one cares.’
“I can’t really get onboard with that.
“I think me as an American, growing up, being a fan of the Olympics and everything, like you cheer for Americans, right? That’s what you do as a patriotic person. Canadians cheer for James. We see the Swedish contingent that comes to the races for Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist.
“I think Americans will cheer for Americans. I would love to see an American to win the championship. I think it’s important for the young kids watching hoping to be IndyCar drivers one day, that they see someone who grew up in Tennessee or California or wherever. It’s like, there’s a lot of relate-ability to that for a young kid with aspirations of being a racecar driver.”
Since Sam Hornish, Jr. won the final of his three IndyCar Series championships in 2006, just two American drivers have won the title – Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012 and Newgarden in 2017. During that span, Scott Dixon of New Zealand won four of his five NTT IndyCar Series championships and Dario Franchitti of Scotland won all four of his IndyCar titles.
The last time two Americans had a chance to win the championship in the final race of the season came in 2001 when Hornish won the championship over Colorado’s Buddy Lazier. Connecticut’s Scott Sharp was third and Arizona’s Billy Boat was fourth in the final standings that year.
That was a much different time and place for IndyCar. At that time, many of the top drivers were in CART while the old Indy Racing League featured a predominantly American lineup. Once unification brought the two sides together in 2008, the championships have been fought on American soil, but international drivers were victorious.
The last time two American drivers finished 1-2 in CART was 1996 when Jimmy Vasser of California defeated Pennsylvania’s Michael Andretti for the crown. In 1992, Bobby Rahal of Illinois defeated Andretti and Al Unser, Jr. of New Mexico for the CART title.
Prior to that, the IndyCar “National Championship” was dominated by drivers from the United States.
“For me, it’s never been something I put a lot of emphasis on,” said the Team Penske driver. “I’m proud to have grown up in such a wonderful country as the United States, but what I’ve always loved about the IndyCar Series is that they bring the best of the best from around the world. That’s always been important to me.
“It means more I think when you have the best from all over the place coming to compete at the Indianapolis 500, during the whole championship. You really feel like you have that in the IndyCar Series. You get the best drivers from around the world.
“To pair with that, I think we need strong Americans running, as well. So for sure, having guys like Alex and Graham Rahal, some young guys coming up like Colton Herta, myself, it’s really great to have young American competition representing as well and running so strongly.
“What I’ve always loved is the great mix of talent from around the world. To me that’s just so important. If it was all Americans running in the championship, I don’t think it would mean as much. I like that we have that great diversity and that great mix from around the world.”
Although these two drivers are both from the USA, they are fierce rivals. They have mutual respect for each other, but they sure aren’t considered close friends.
“Josef and I honestly aren’t that close,” Rossi admitted. “He never lived in Indy when I moved here, or he was just moving. I actually never really hung out with Josef.
“We obviously have a lot of respect for each other. We raced together for a short period of time in Europe. We have a lot of mutual friends.
“Josef and I don’t talk or socialize really. So, it doesn’t have any impact.”
Newgarden agrees that these two men choose to embrace the rivalry.
“I think it’s just really business,” Newgarden said. “He lives in Indianapolis. I live in Nashville. I don’t see him too often outside of the racetrack. We go and we compete. He’s a great competitor. He’s definitely a tremendous talent, has done a great job in his career.
“It’s been a good, competitive relationship I would say.”
With the return of American drivers capable of winning races, championships and Indianapolis 500s, it has sparked a rejuvenation in IndyCar racing. With drivers from all over the world fighting it out for glory, this series that was born and bred in the United States can take pride in featuring some of the best racing in the world as the series continues to grow in popularity.
“I think we just need to continue a focus on our product,” Rossi said. “I think we have the best race product on the planet in terms of entertainment, the variance of winners that we have throughout a season, how many guys are capable, teams are capable of winning races.
“But that’s an ever-moving target. I think IndyCar has done a good job of placing the priority on that. I just think we need to continue doing that and everything will be moving in the right direction.”