Will Power wins from pole position as IndyCar championship race tightens

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Will Power led wire to wire to win from the pole position Saturday in Race 2 of the Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, where teammate Josef Newgarden pushed the NTT IndyCar Series title battle to the season finale.

Power scored his second victory this year, holding off a furious charge by Colton Herta to win by 0.8932 seconds.

“The tires had gone away, it was a very tough battle,” Power told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “I had to work very hard to keep (Herta) behind. Just so happy to have Verizon and Chevy in victory lane again. We had two Hondas trying to attack us there, but the Chevy had very good power and driveability so over the moon to get another one, especially at this place.”

SATURDAY’S RESULTS, POINTS: Full stats package from Race 2 of the Harvest GP

WHAT THEY SAID: Postrace posts and quotes from drivers

In leading all 75 laps, Power earned his fourth victory on the 14-turn, 2.349-mile road course and the eighth for Team Penske, which swept the doubleheader race weekend (after Newgarden’s Friday victory) for track owner Roger Penske in raising its IndyCar victory total to 218.

“Just needed a little more time and a little more tires,” Herta said. “Couldn’t have gotten him today, though.”

With the 39th victory of his career, the 39-year-old Australian also tied Al Unser for fifth on the series’ all-time winners list, three behind Michael Andretti.

“Oh man, when you talk about the names I’m around, it’s just amazing these people (are) absolute legends of the sport,” Power said. “I could never have imagined having my name among such unbelievable, historic drivers. All these guys, I was a huge fan of when I was a kid, and they’re kind of my heroes, so it’s really cool to have my name up there.”

Alexander Rossi finished third (and on the podium for the fourth consecutive race) and was followed by Newgarden and Pato O’Ward.

“Been a real good roll for us, we needed that,” Rossi said. “Ultimately I don’t know that anyone had anything for Will today.”

Jack Harvey, Graham Rahal, Dixon, Alex Palou and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top 10.

After winning Friday’s race at IMS, Newgarden was able to cut Scott Dixon’s championship lead to 32 points Saturday.

“We were a little shy of where we needed to be,” said Newgarden, who qualified ninth. “If we could have had a phenomenal day like yesterday, we’d be in really good shape, but we were just mediocre today. I think we had a car to compete with Will and Herta and Rossi, we just didn’t start up far enough.

“I got buried on the inside (on the start). I got pushed back a little too far. The key was being up higher earlier today. I had to work through a lot just like Scott did, and if we could have just got a clean qualifying run, I really think we would have had a better day,

“Look, we’re in it with a shot. We can go to St. Pete now and try and win this championship. I just wish we were in a little closer position.”

Dixon started 15th and fought his way to eighth, ensuring the IndyCar championship will be decided in the final race for the 15th consecutive season. Dixon had entered Indianapolis with a 72-point lead two races ago.

The five-time series champion encountered trouble within the first 10 laps as a collision with Ryan Hunter-Reay poked a hole in the left undertray of his No. 9 Dallara-Honda.

Struggling with straight-line speed because of the damage there, Dixon battled to stay in the top 10 and received help from Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Felix Rosenqvist running interference during the first stint.

“I was loose the whole race because of (the damage),” Dixon said. “I think I made contact a couple of times, once with Hunter-Reay and then I think Charlie Kimball and I connected at some point there.

“We tried everything. We were flat out. It’s a pretty basic two-stopper so there wasn’t much to do, so interesting day for us.

“It’s nice to still be on the leading side of the points. It’s still a good margin. Gives us a little bit of window. (Newgarden and Team Penske have) been very good at St. Pete, too, for many years. We’re definitely going to have our work cut out and obviously kudos to Team Penske and Josef and Will, but we’ll keep trying hard.”

The IndyCar season will conclude Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, which originally was the season opener until being postponed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The race will be shown at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Dixon can clinch his sixth title by finishing eighth or better in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, regardless of Newgarden’s result.

The Harvest GP was open to a crowd limited to 10,000 for its Friday-Saturday doubleheader, the first fans allowed at an IndyCar race this season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We want to thank all the fans that visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend for the Harvest GP,” said Roger Penske, who took ownership of IMS in January and greeted fans Thursday at Gate 1. “This was really our first opportunity we have had to share some of the enhancements we have made at IMS, and it was great to see people having a good time at the Brickyard. We have seen some great action on track all weekend, including two exciting NTT IndyCar Series races.

“We were proud to welcome fans back to the Speedway, and we are looking forward to a strong finish to the season at St. Petersburg.”