|Will Power scores his second GP Indy win|
In a caution-free race purist’s dream (or a snoozefest) Will Power dominated the 2017 Grand Prix if Indianapolis. Scott Dixon finished 5 seconds back, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, and Helio Castroneves. Team Penske drivers lead every lap. The win, Power’s 30th , moves Power to 11th place all-time in IndyCar history.
During practice yesterday, it was obvious that the Penske folks had things figured out on a higher level than everyone else. Without argument they have 5 of the best drivers. Few doubt that they have the biggest budget and the biggest group of long-term high-quality employees. Arguably you could’ve put them into LeCars, or Smart Cars, or Chevettes, and they’d find a way to be competitive.
Today they started 1-2-3-5-7. And methodically, they led every lap until Power finished 5 seconds ahead of second-place Dixon. Pagenaud, who admitted after the race that he never could get used to the tires used in the race, ended up 4th. Castroneves, who led 24 laps, slid back to 5th as he was forced into hard compound tires at the end of the race.
Since IMS redid the first turn, the drama at the start of the race isn’t nearly as bad as previous years. Everyone got thru that first turn at the start, but back in the field Marco Andretti got into Tony Kanaan, sending TK spinning into the grass. There was no caution, but TK was forced to pit, and ended the day 20th, 2 laps back. Andretti got a drive-through penalty, and was never a factor in the race, finishing one lap back in 16th.
On lap 3, the Honda of Sebastien Bourdais blew an engine, and the guy who was the points leader a couple of weeks ago ended up dead last in the field, the second bad weekend in a row (he was taken out on the opening lap at Phoenix). Bourdais finished today 7th in the championship standings.
And so the race continued until pit stops starting at lap 17, and when the dust settled on lap 25 Castroneves was in the lead, followed by Power, Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Pagenaud, and James Hinchcliffe.
The only other car to drop out came to a rest when Charlie Kimball pulled off of the track on lap 32. Kimball finished 21st.
When the next round of pit stops began on lap 45 Graham Rahal had used determination and strategy to pull into 3rd place. Rahal started off in 20th, but ended up 6th overall. Once again Rahal gets the “hard charger” award, which he’d probably swap in a heartbeat for a decent qualification run at this race. Also notable was the effort of Max Chilton, who quietly moved from his 14th start to finish 7th.
Castroneves was in the lead when the final pit stops started on lap 63 before handing off the lead on lap 64. The Brazilian had yet to run the black “hard” tires, hoping that they would be more effective at the end of the race. It didn’t turn out that way, and Castroneves slid to a disappointing 5th play finish. Also losing a good run was Newgarden, who got two speeding penalties in this round of pit stops quite possibly due to some technical issue. Newgarden, who no doubt would’ve finished in the top-5 otherwise, recovered to finish 11th.
Ultimately, Team Penske drivers led every lap. And the win, Power’s 30th, moves the Aussie to 11th place all-time in IndyCar history.
"It was a perfect strategy. That was hard work - full green," said Power "I want to thank Verizon. All the guys; all the crew. Hi to my friend Will Snider. He lost his leg in an accident this year-I know he is watching and I know he will be back changing tires in no time.
"I knew (Scott) Dixon was closing there for a while so I was really trying to manage the gap and manage the tires. They were degraded a lot. You have to hit all of your marks, and if it is your day-it is your day. I have to say the Chevy engine was mega today. Chevy has done a great job. Honda got a little bit of a gain on us, but we are already back.
"I have been around motorsports long enough to know that you have you have your good and bad runs and the bad doesn't last forever, and the good doesn't last forever. You just have to take it as it comes and not have too many ups and downs emotionally. Having a baby teaches you that.
"It feels really good to finally have a good day. Everyone on this team has been working really hard. We should have had a couple of wins by now. It helps with the points; feels good to win again. I think that is number 30. That is a good number. I want to make it 31 by the end of this month.
"Helio (Castroneves) was very strong the whole race. It surprised me that he went to blacks (tires) there at the end. But they did a pretty good play there to go red when we were all blacks, he was just fast.
"I'm good. That was a tough race. I slept well last night. A win makes you feel better.
The Grand Prix of Indianapolis is kinda a strange animal: Part local club race, part way to replace a lost week of qualification crowds, part way to use the one of the best road courses in the USA. The fans don’t tend to sit in the main grandstands, scattering themselves on the hills and corners and upper decks of the grounds. A much smaller, more intimate crowd in a huge, industrial rambling stadium. Maybe it’s an acquired taste? The Indy Star is calling the crowd at 35,000 on a beautiful weather day. Others are not so optimistic.
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "We had a good day. I mean it was a difficult weekend for us on the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet car. I didn't have the speed this weekend. I couldn't find how to feel more comfortable with the tires; the new Firestone tires they brought this weekend. I didn't have the speed Will (Power) had. Overall, bringing home a fourth-place finish is good. We're still in the lead for the championship which is what I want. I'm just super excited next is the Indy 500. It's my No. 1 goal this year and I know Roger [Penske] is really excited about it. My team is really excited and I want to bring the Menards car to the top step."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I don't know what happened. I think we ran into some sort of glitch and they dinged us two times for speeding on pit road. It was a tough day for us. We had a really fast hum by Verizon car. We really didn't struggle with much today. We started a little slower than we had hoped, but at the end the car was a rocket. I'm disappointed for our guys because we did everything right and we had great stops, we just had a little glitch there. We had a great race car and just couldn't capitalize. I think we had a car that could have been a podium car, maybe even a second-place car. We just didn't capitalize today. Congrats to Will (Power) though. He was strong all weekend long."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I thought we had figured something out with some strategy there at the end, but the car was a handful. The Verizon car was great all day long. We decided to take a gamble and get off on tire strategy and it just didn't work like we had hoped. We have five good cars that can all win the race, so someone had to take a chance. We probably shouldn't have done it that way knowing we finished fifth, but if we would have won everyone would be looking at us saying wow. I also ended up wasting a lot of push to trying to get through traffic. Look, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it goes. Now, we got to focus on the 500 and getting our fourth."
CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "I was really happy with our start and first stint, the car felt OK. I was able to fight with Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and Spencer (Pigot) and some guys up there, but I think we ran into a problem with the brakes a little bit after the first stint. Seemed to start glazing them a little bit so it was difficult to stop. And then for some reason we stalled in the pits. We've struggled getting out of the pits all weekend so, in the end I should be able to recognize that, but I have no idea why we were having that issue so that was a shame. That really set us back and then from then on it was just damage control. We just kept losing the brakes a little bit. On reds, the car was good but on blacks we didn't have enough, on blacks we were too far off."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "It was not the best weekend for the Arrow crew. We rolled off the truck with a car that finished on the podium at this track last year. It's so tough because every race this year, our strength has been rolling off the truck with a good car. In a series that's so competitive, and we have such little track time, that's the key because it's really tough to bounce back from a bad first session, and unfortunately that's what we had. We picked off a few spots in the first stint, but ultimately we got stuck behind (Simon) Pagenaud. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind him and that allowed other cars to close in and that led to a chain reaction of events which brought us to a pretty disappointing result in 13th. We're going to try and bounce back from this; we've got the two biggest weekends of the year coming up and we're going to try and hit it out of the park."
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "That was definitely not the day we were hoping for. Our car was just difficult to drive this weekend. Anyway, today is finished. This race is finished and the car is in one piece. We'll learn from today and move forward."
MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): "It was just a really, really good day for myself and the Gallagher team. It was by far the best race I've had in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The team did a good job and we made a call to start on primary tires and I knew within five or six laps it would pay off for us. On the second stint it just started playing into our hand, and having no yellows furthered our strategy. Moving forward seven positions in the race was mega, and without any off strategies playing out, we got there on straight speed. This is a great start to May and hope we can do even better in the 500."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): "It was definitely a tough day. We couldn't really hold onto the rear tires. The Honda just had too much power there. We were spinning the rear tires. Good points there for everybody on the NTT Data car. Great day for Honda. Obviously, not a win but very close. Looking forward to Monday and getting on the big track here."
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): "Today definitely wasn't our day. We had issues from the first lap when Marco spun us and punctured my tire all the way to later in the race when one of my front tires started going down. Those extra stops just put us back too far and with no yellows there was no way we were going to make up those few laps we were already down. It's not a great way to start the month, but we've all seen what Honda can do here so I'm looking forward to getting back on the oval on Monday."
|Will Power scores his second GP Indy win|
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It just feels great to finally have a good day and everyone has worked so hard on our team. Obviously, a rough start. But, like you said, should have won a couple by now. It helps in points. It's great to get a win again. I think that's number 30. Good number. I want to make that 31 by the end of this month."
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Another really hard race, really. Our weekend started okay and then got worse. I'm not really happy. Grip-wise, we just really lacked grip. It's a shame. Hopefully, we turn it around. Now focusing on the Indy 500, we'll see how our package is, but we are suffering. There's work that lies ahead so we just need to continue working hard."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 SoldierStrong / TurnsForTroops.com Honda): "It's was a pretty good day. We were on attack mode on the first stint. We had to pump out a whole bunch of qualifying laps and close the gaps. My United Rentals boys did a great job in the pits because we got by a lot of guys there and we were able to pass a lot of guys. Overall I'm pleased with the day that we had. We completed all 85 laps and raised $100 a lap for Soldier/Strong and Turns for Troops which means a lot to me. It's just a good way to start the month. I was disappointed with qualifying but I'll take a sixth. I was fighting the whole way and guys - the lapped cars - certainly weren't making it easy there at the end. I was running low on push-to-pass and I knew Max (Chilton) was coming. It was a very physical day but I'm looking forward to the 500 coming up here. I take pride in my race craft come Sundays, but you better believe I wish my job was easier than that. Because on a day like today we had a car to win this race, I guarantee you that so it's disappointing starting where we start and putting ourselves in that hole. This field and the competitiveness of the drivers is why there were no yellows and when there are no yellows, 85 laps on a warm day like this is a good workout. We know we can compete, we know we can run up front. We've had a lot of things go against us this year but today finally we had just a smooth, good day."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Sonny's BBQ Honda): "There's not much to say. The start was pretty good and then everybody on my side of the track went to the right side and found a gap, and there was no gap next to me so I was the guy alone on the left side of the road which wasn't so good. (Alexander) Rossi and Simon (Pagenaud) got a run on us and got by us, but I was happy that I was able to get Simon right back on the back straight and then Rossi on the next lap. We were going to try and do our thing and get back with Montoya, but the engine failed on the frontstraight and that was the end of our day."
ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): "It was a difficult race. On the start we moved up a little bit, then going into Turn 7 (Tony) Kanaan spun in front of me I had to avoid him. I thought he was going to take me out properly. In avoiding him, I had to go through the grass and that sent me to the back of the field. Then we were coming back through the field and our pace was pretty good, but then on the first pit stop we had a fueling issue where we lost a lot of time and we didn't have all the fuel in so it messed up the whole race really as that sent us to the back. I think we had the third fastest race lap. So we were fast, and I think we probably should have been top 10, probably ninth or 10th if we didn't have the issues."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet): "We just didn't have the pace that we were hoping to have in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits car today. We struggled on the red tires and on the first run, I felt like we blistered the rear and we lost some time there. Once we got back to about ninth or 10th, we just stayed right about there the rest of the race. It was a fun weekend, but we now turn out focus to the Indianapolis 500. That is the race we want to win and that is what we will think about starting now."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): "First of all, congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and the No. 28 crew on the outstanding podium. We had a difficult weekend, starting with a little issue and having to start at the back of the grid today - but the No. 26 crew did a great job to recover. The last stop was a little long and we need to review that. Otherwise, it was a tough race, but I think we fought back quite strongly. We've got good momentum for the Indianapolis 500, and I'm looking forward to starting practice on Monday."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda): "Wasn't the way I would have liked to have started the race. I knocked into TK (Tony Kanaan) and it was an uphill battle from there. I feel sorry for TK and my UFD guys, I ruined both our races. I was looking in my mirror and got tagged by Ed Jones and then got into TK. I got the penalty (for avoidable contact) and just drove as hard as I could the rest of the race."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "Pretty solid day. We've had a lot of bad luck this year and it's been frustrating, but we kept our heads down and it feels nice to come onto the podium here before we kick off the most important few weeks of our careers and our whole season. It's nice to get the yellow and red DHL colors back here and close to the top step of the podium. We're saving that for the (Indianapolis) 500, I guess."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): "We had a really good start of the race and we spent the first 10 laps making up spots from P19 to P14. I made a little bit of a mistake that put us back some and then we had a mechanical failure around lap 30 that ended our day. I feel bad for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys because they gave me a car today that could get the job done and they were great in pit lane. We'll look into it tonight and see exactly what we have going on with the No. 83 Tresiba Honda. It's a really unfortunate way to end a weekend that I've had such solid results in the past, but now we will just need to shift our focus to the Indianapolis 500."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda): "We had a really good start, but we chose the wrong downforce level - that was pretty big penalty for us until we got it balanced out on the last stint. But by that point it was too late to run up the charts. It's great for the team though that Ryan (Hunter-Reay) is on the podium and that the NAPA team was able to score another top 10. Now we shift our focus to defending our title at the (Indianapolis) 500."
|10||22||Juan Pablo Montoya||85||41.8238||5.2360||3||1:10.643||0||5||Chevy|
|14||21||JR Hildebrand||84||1 LAPS||17.9126||3||1:11.293||0||21||Chevy|
|15||14||Carlos Munoz||84||1 LAPS||12.8567||3||1:11.399||0||18||Chevy|
|16||27||Marco Andretti||84||1 LAPS||7.2890||4||1:10.580||0||11||Honda|
|17||4||Conor Daly||84||1 LAPS||1.5720||3||1:10.692||0||15||Chevy|
|18||7||Mikhail Aleshin||84||1 LAPS||6.7934||4||1:10.736||0||17||Honda|
|19||19||Ed Jones||84||1 LAPS||6.4363||4||1:10.168||0||13||Honda|
|20||10||Tony Kanaan||83||2 LAPS||32.1336||5||1:10.717||0||12||Honda|
|22||18||Sebastien Bourdais||3||4.2855||1.0914|| ||1:11.079||0||6||Honda|