Will Power ends IndyCar winless drought with fifth victory at Indianapolis road course


INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power rediscovered his road-course mojo, delivering a convincing victory Saturday in the IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After starting second, the Team Penske driver took his first lead on Lap 21 and controlled the rest of the race in his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile layout to win for the first time this season.

Despite radio frustration that he was held up by James Hinchcliffe as a big lead shrunk by several seconds around the halfway point, Power led a race-high 56 of 85 laps and won by 1.1142 seconds over Romain Grosjean as a Penske car won for the eighth time in 11 races on the road course at the track owned by Roger Penske.

STATS PACKAGE: Full results and points after Saturday

With his 40th career victory, Power moved into sole possession of fifth place all time on IndyCar’s all-time win list. He also broke a tie with Michael Schumacher and Jeff Gordon with his sixth victory at IMS (a record five on the road course, plus the 2018 Indy 500), tying two-time NASCAR champion Kyle Busch’s record.

“We needed it as a group,” Power told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider. “I can’t tell you how good these guys have been this year. Flawless in pit stops and just given me the car, and we’ve just obviously had some bad luck, and I’ve made some mistakes as well.

“What a relief, man. When that yellow came and then another one. You’ve got to survive those yellows. We had a really good car that was solid up front. I was very focused coming in here. We just put it all together, man.”

The Australian’s most recent IndyCar victory had been 12 races ago on the same layout last October.

GLOBAL APPEAL: IndyCar drivers say series validated by European, F1 interest

Colton Herta finished third, followed by a season-best fourth for Alexander Rossi and pole-sitter Pato O’Ward in fifth.

Jack Harvey, Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top 10.

Jimmie Johnson started 22nd and finished 19th in the first lead-lap finish of his career.

Power held off Grosjean on a restart with six laps remaining after the race’s second caution flag flew when Rinus VeeKay was spun by Scott McLaughlin (who was penalized for avoidable contact).

With four races remaining in the 2021 season, the championship picture dramatically changed after points leader Alex Palou suffered an engine failure in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda on Lap 68 of 85 while running fourth.

The caution flew for the first time as white smoke wafted from the rear of Palou’s car, setting up a restart duel between Power and Herta.

But Power got a great jump, and Grosjean slid around Power for second.

Palou had entered the race with a 42-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon and by 48 points over O’Ward, who moved up a spot to second in the standings with his first top five in two months. Going off sequence with an early pit stop, Dixon finished 17th after starting 26th.

“We still don’t know what happened,” Palou said. “We were running really good and had really good strategy and really good pace, and we were catching the guys in front for the podium. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fight today, but it’s just a bump in the road, and we’ll keep on fighting.”

In his IndyCar debut, F2 driver Christian Lundgaard started fourth and led two laps early in the race before his first pit stop. The Alpine F1 Team reserve driver, who is exploring the possibility of racing full time in IndyCar next year, finished 12th despite an overnight bout with food poisoning.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.