|Will Power gets his third win on the Indy road course|
For the third time in four years, Will Power drove the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to victory in the IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. It was the 30th career victory for the Australian and the 200th for Team Penske.
Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was second, with standout rookie Robert Wickens third. Sebastien Bourdais and Alexander Rossi rounded out the top-five.
Championship leader Josef Newgarden had a disappointing day finishing 11th.
Road racing at IMS can be an acquired taste. Take away the Indy mystique, and you are left with a course that seemed to feature first-lap drama followed by a follow the leader race. However, with today's IndyCar and Indy Lights races, that reputation might be in for an overhaul. At least we can hope.
The race did in fact start off with the usual first-lap crash fest though. Simon Pagenaud, who started 7th, was collected in a chain-reaction deal when he was punted by Jordan King. Pagenaud recovered for an 8th place finish, while King went 3 laps down, and finished last.
Later on during the first lap, King's team mate Spencer Pigot was spotted soaring through the air and going backwards in the grass. He'd made (avoidable, it was ruled) contact with Sato, and went a couple of laps down. Pigot finished 15th, and Sato -- who was in a couple more bumping deals during the day, finished 10th.
The green flag flew on lap 4, and this is when we'd normally expect a parade for the rest of the race. However, a total of 7 drivers took turn leading, including a couple of laps by rookie Kyle Kaiser (who finished 19th). In total there were 10 lead changes.
|Power passes Wickens for the lead|
However, this time Will Power was mystique by "rookie" Robert Wickens and Sebastien Bourdais. Wickens would lead 20 laps starting at lap 26, until he went on his black tire stint while Power went on the softer Red tires. A better pit position for Power, combined with fuel Is at the end of the race (more on that later) relegated acquired to a third place finish. Bourdais finished fourth.
Some promising runs were ruined though. Ryan Hunter-Reay thought he had a car to contend -- and had moved from 13th to 9th in the early running -- when injector woes relegated his day to a frustrating 18th place finish. The car would not pull to redline, would not stay in push-to-pass for more than a few seconds at a time, and could not be adjusted to get proper fuel mileage. RHR was more frustrated on the radio than at any time in memory.
Zach Veach ran better than his 20th place finish. However, a late race tire puncture put him a lap down.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Zachary Claman De Melo registered his best Verizon IndyCar Series finish on Saturday with a strong 12th place finish aboard his #19 Paysafe Honda-powered machine.
Back up front, Will Power took the lead in anger at lap 51 from Wickens, the product of Red versus Black tire selection. A caution flew on lap 56 when Josef Newgarden spun trying to gain a podium position (he finished 11th), but the pit position insured that Power regained the lead position after pit stops. Wickens was second, and Scott Dixon -- who up until that moment had been having a miserable weekend (qualified 18th!) -- Came out third.
From there, the TV coverage was perhaps a little misleading. It wasn't a "Saturday night shootout" with everyone on the same tires and a tank full of fuel. Instead, it was a fuel mileage race. "Welcome to the world of IndyCar fuel mileage racing" Wickens crew told him. Wickens, hamstrung by fuel settings, wasn't able to challenge again for the lead, and eventually Dixon passed him for second place.
This isn't to say that weren't some entertaining races in the last leg of the race. Alexander Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais got into a fight for 4th-5th, and on lap 72 some light rain started to fall on parts of the track. And of course, if you had a radio, you could listen to Hunter-Reay talk about moving to the back of the field.
But in the end, it was an entertaining race. The fastest car won, the talented drivers (by and large) went to the front, and best of all for the teams -- no parts that will be needed for the 500 in two weeks were damaged.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): "We had a podium car, for sure. It's tough to throw it away. I think I got too greedy. I had two or three runs on (Sebastien) Bourdais. I just got frustrated and too greedy. I thought he was going to give me a little more room. He gave me some, but it wasn't enough. It is my fault, I think I ruined a podium finish for the No. 1 Verizon Chevy team. But, we recovered what we could. The Chevy power helped. The 200th win for Roger (Penske, team owner) and Team Penske is a very big deal. I am happy for Will (Power) and his team. Now we go on to preparation for the 500."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It's just like I never left, you know? It was great strategy from the team. We started with the blacks and took a gamble. It wasn't worth it to try to fight because I kind of knew it would have come back, and it did. The team did a phenomenal job staying cool. All my guys did phenomenal pit stops. This is a group that we're going to have for the 500. So, imagine when you have the guys just showing up and doing the job is incredible. I feel sorry about Simon (Pagenaud). (Takuma) Sato hit me on the back. I lost control on that part of hitting the No. 22 of Simon, but he made a phenomenal comeback. Again, it's great to be back in Indianapolis and I'm ready to get going."
MATHEUS "MATT" LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Today was a tough race. I had a difficult car, dealt with a few issues. Unfortunately, it was not our day again. On to the next one."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): "Long day at the office for us. I think there was decent speed in the Arrow Electronics car on reds (Firestone alternate tires), but the black (Firestone primary tires) stint was hard for us. Then, on the last stop under caution, (Ryan) Hunter-Reay pulled into his box right as we were heading out and we had to check up for that. I think we lost two spots in the pits after that, which is unfortunate because it was a fuel save race after that. Nobody was really passing anybody, so we probably should have been top five, but still a solid day. No major mistakes anywhere just trying to keep it clean and keep raking in points. Congrats to Robbie (Wickens) on the podium - another good showing for the team and we will just carry this momentum into the 500."
ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): "I have to work on my fuel save game a little bit (laughter). Hats off to the Lucas Oil guys - we had a great first stint. We had an even better second stint, and then Will (Power) and I had a great little battle when I was on the blacks (Firestone primary tires), he was on the reds (Firestone alternate). I guess I'm not as efficient at fuel saving as they are, but we made it. Scott (Dixon) got behind me on push-to-pass, and I was instructed not to do much because of fuel save. In the end, I'm really happy to be on the podium. It's frustrating because it feels like you're driving so slowly because it feels like you're lifting for what feels like an eternity before the corner, but then the team was reassuring me that (Alexander) Rossi and (Sebastien) Bourdais had to do the same thing. It wasn't comfortable by any means. It was the first time in my career I've had to save fuel like that, but in the end, happy with the podium. Would have liked to be a bit further up, but hard to complain."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "It was a great result today for the PNC Bank car and the whole team. Everyone on the Ganassi team never quits, never gives up and we were able to make up a lot of spots and finish second. I think that was the worst I've ever qualified without crashing or having a technical issue. Good day in the points for the No. 9 team. I love having this race open up the month for us here at Indy."
ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Not the result we wanted, obviously, today with the NTT DATA car. I think we had good pace in the beginning and we got a good start and moved up several positions. Late in the race we must have just run over something and the tires went down. The car behind us had the same problem too."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, 2018 INDYCAR Grand Prix winner): "It's been a slow start for us, so it's just fantastic to get the win. But 200 wins in IndyCar just shows Roger's determination and the way his team works and his passion for winning. It's a real pleasure to drive for him. You're given equipment week in, week out to win, and yeah, I have to say it's amazing to be a part of that history of Penske Racing because it's such a deep history. So yeah, I'm so grateful to be able to drive for this team.
“On behalf of everyone at Chevrolet, congratulations to Roger Penske and everyone at Team Penske on capturing an unprecedented 200 wins in Verizon IndyCar Series competition," said Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "This incredible accomplishment is the result of focus, determination and teamwork. Roger has an amazing ability to bring together the right people and then provide all the necessary tools needed to win races and championships. We are very proud that 72 of these wins have been powered by Chevrolet. It is truly an honor to congratulate our partner, and our respected friend on this milestone.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "We actually had a good race going, but our pit stops were just not up to par. All we gained on track we lost in the pits. We need to address that before the next race."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): "We had a pretty good car on the reds and were able to get the United Rentals machine up to the front but ultimately on the blacks we really struggled. Everybody did but the time in which we put them on hurt us. And then on the last fuel run, I was hitting the fuel number I was told to hit and came up short. Luckily I ran out in the last corner. If it was before that I would have been a lot more upset. I lost eighth place and finished ninth. That's the way things go sometimes. We didn't have quite Dixon's pace on reds, which is how he got that big gain over us but my guys did a great job in the pits. The got me positions when we needed to and we were able to pass a lot of cars in the race. Overall I can't complain too much. I'm tired of starting in the back. If we can start in the top-three or top-five even we can make these guys lives really tough. We make it tough for them now but we're doing it from 17th. We need to start up front and make it really tough on them. I'm confident in that, confident in my team. We just have to get the job done in qualifying."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): "Really good points there for the SealMaster Honda No. 18. I just didn't feel like I did the best job to maximize the result. At the end, we got another fourth place and honestly I didn't know what we were gonna get. We were loose for most of the race, which made for a very tough run. I thought the track was going to finally come to us and it didn't. The balance was only good when we put the brand new red (alternate) Firestone tires on. The guys (other drivers) were really aggressive at the start of that last run and I didn't know whether I should say screw the fuel number and go with them. I was already not making the number and under a lot of pressure from behind, so I thought maybe we just don't have the pace and had to give up some positions. After that I was kind of a lonely wolf out there doing my thing and trying to make the fuel number a bit better. Next thing you know the leaders are backing up big time to us. Wickens didn't want to give up on Rossi and Rossi was being aggressive, so by the end of that stint we had saved enough fuel to use the push to pass and he couldn't and we recovered fourth. Overall, not super happy with myself. I feel like I missed on the balance a little bit. I feel like I didn't get it quite done. Ultimately all that matters is we got the points from the fourth place and we're looking pretty strong in the championship. Hopefully it keeps on happening."
ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): "It was a really fun start. A few people had incidents, so I saw a few open holes and I just took them. It's just unfortunate about the small issue we had before our first pit stop that cost us some time. Without that issue on our in lap, we probably could have been in the top 10 easily at the end. We're not quite sure what the issue was so we're looking into it. We're really happy with how the race went, our pace was strong, it was great to be out there. Overall, I'm happy with the result, it's good for me, I learned a lot and I'm happy for the team."
JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "Unfortunately, we got caught up in someone else's accident. There really was not anywhere for me to go. Wrong place, wrong time, which put an end to our race, really. The pace was good as it has been for the last four races. It all comes together eventually, this is just one of those days that is a bit annoying at the moment."
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet): "It was a tough start to the race, I arrived at the chicane pretty much side to side with Takuma (Sato) and at that point, there wasn't much space. I tried to miss the curbing, but obviously didn't and got airborne then spun. It didn't help our race right there, it kind of ruined it with that incident. After that, we went a lap down and just tried to stay close to the leader so that if there was a yellow, we could take advantage of it and get a lap back. That happened towards the end, and we were able to pass a few guys in the last restart to move up a little bit. Overall, frustrating day, it felt like we had a pretty good pace. The guys did a great job in pit lane and the engineers gave me a good car. Hopefully, we can get the Preferred Freezer car up front for the 500 and move on after this."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "What a day. I can't believe my luck so far this season. Maybe that is good for Indy 500. I keep saying it. It's coming up now. Hopefully I get all the luck in the world for the 500. It was an awesome car today, fantastic. I think we could have challenged for the win. It is what it is. We recovered from the first lap incident. They opened the pit and we pitted, then they threw the green flag that next lap so we couldn't get back to the pack. The car was very good and the Chevy power was awesome. We managed to finish the race with good fuel consumption and was able to pass Graham Rahal just before start finish because of fuel consumption. Awesome heading to 500. Congratulations to Will (Power) - he made it three here now. So, I have to catch him next year. Also, it is the 200th win for Team Penske in INDYCAR. It is phenomenal. What a team. It is an honor to be part of it."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet): "That's a real shame. We must've hit a piece of debris and we ended up cutting the left rear tire on that last stint, so we didn't get the opportunity to race for the top 10. We worked our way and the guys were awesome in pit lane. We had really good stops all three stops and we had the strategy right. We really improved the car from yesterday to today. It's disappointing not to get the result, but the performance doesn't show how good the team and the No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet was today. I'm ready to move and we'll take any extra we can get for the next few weekends."
ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group One Thousand One Honda): "It was definitely one of the toughest weekends we have had. It seemed like anything that could have happened, did, in the race... we had to change a front wing, we got a cut tire. We rebounded from the damaged front wing pretty well, I think we were running around 13th - right with our teammates. Then, we started having a tire go down and that basically ended our story for the INDYCAR Grand Prix. I just want to thank everybody - especially my engineer Garrett (Mothersead) for working so hard to figure out what our problem has been all weekend. I still think we missed the balance overall just a tad, but we came a long way from where we started, that's a plus. I'm happy to have this out of the way and be able to focus on the Indy 500."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "I was pretty concerned after this morning's session. For some reason, the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda was losing pace through nothing more than just car balance as each run went on, so it was a little bit of a mystery to us. We're very fortunate to have a four-car team. We were able to better the setup for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) on his car, and the No. 28 DHL car probably saved our weekend. Big shout out to them on the team effort. It was a good recovery - just disappointing that we couldn't finish fourth. I think we had the opportunity to save fuel in that stint and we just didn't make it happen, so we need to look into that, but overall a good recovery by the whole team. I'm very excited to get to work on Tuesday - we've been very fortunate with such good cars here so looking to fight and go two out of three."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "It was a rough day. We were running seventh and eighth and then we had an electrical issue that caused a misfire. It cut power on the bottom and top ends. We tried a couple on-track fixes, but they didn't work and a fix in the pits would have taken too long. So, we were running all day about half of the horsepower and had to save fuel. It was pretty much a full nightmare scenario and certainly not what we hoped for today. The DHL team did a good job toughing it out during a very frustrating race, and we're all looking forward to getting onto the oval Tuesday."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "I made quite a good start. I overtook four cars minimum at the end of Turn 1. I was probably P6 in Turn 2 or 3. However, we were side-by-side with (Spencer) Pigot in Turn 4, which was good, and then we went to the first chicane Turn 5 still side-by-side and unfortunately he tried to go too wide and he ran out of road. Instead of avoiding the curb inside, he just launched it by himself and basically hit me while airborne and that was it, I went to the back. After that I think we had a good car on the red tire (Firestone alternate) but on the black tire (Firestone primary), I think we probably made a mistake and went backwards significantly. Then, we had a good fight back in the end on red tires. In the end, I think tenth is not the best, but I think it's good for the team that our two cars just made the top 10. It was an OK weekend."
KYLE KAISER (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): "So awesome job by the team. We finished our second race now after Long Beach, so I am really happy. Overall, it was a really physical and really tough race. It felt like it lasted forever. At the end there we had to save fuel, and that was my first time actually saving fuel in the car, so it was a really good learning process. We made a lot of progress and the car felt great. I feel like we have a lot of positive momentum heading into second half of May. I am looking forward to getting on the big oval. Now that we have this behind us, we finished the race, and got the car back in one piece, I am ready to go for the big one."
MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): "Up until the final stages I was really enjoying our race - it was probably the most competitive I've ever been in a Verizon IndyCar Series race racing-wise. I was making some quality moves and I think we got some quality time on air for the No.59 Gallagher Chevrolet. Unfortunately, today we just lost some time in the pits I think; in particular, we had an issue when everyone was pitting under yellow which cost us quite a few spots. It's a real shame, as we had great pace and I think if we'd started further up the field we would have been there the whole day because our pace was definitely top five."
GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): "That was a long race with a lot of green time. I was pretty happy with the changes we made, especially on the red tires. We really struggled for pace on the black tires, so that's something we'll have to look at the data and figure out how we improve that aspect of our race. I thought that if it wasn't for a few mishaps in the pits, we'd probably be inside the top ten. Now we make a few improvements and I'm really looking forward to the best part of this month."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): "After an issue in warmup this morning, we had to bring in a new engine - so we started the race on a fresh one, which meant we literally went to the back, just waiting for the engine to get run in. With the lost time on the engine change before the race, there were some other car changes we weren't able to make, so we were stuck with a mechanical change that we knew wasn't going to be good all day. We just sort of hung in there and did what we could to get through the day. It was more of a salvage than anything, but a big thanks to the U.S. Concrete boys for hanging in there."
|1||12||Will Power||85|| || ||3||1:11.251||56||1||Chevy||135||Team Penske|
|2||9||Scott Dixon||85||2.2443||2.2443||3||1:10.569|| ||18||Honda||147||Chip Ganassi Racing Teams|
|3||6||Robert Wickens||85||8.1621||5.9178||3||1:11.305||20||2||Honda||133||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|4||18||Sebastien Bourdais||85||8.7293||0.5672||3||1:11.620||1||3||Honda||152||Dale Coyne Racing|
|5||27||Alexander Rossi||85||11.7462||3.0169||3||1:11.610||2||8||Honda||176||Andretti Autosport|
|6||3||Helio Castroneves||85||14.3860||2.6398||3||1:11.492|| ||10||Chevy||28||Team Penske|
|7||5||James Hinchcliffe||85||15.3368||0.9508||3||1:11.559|| ||4||Honda||144||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports|
|8||22||Simon Pagenaud||85||17.2354||1.8986||4||1:11.568|| ||7||Chevy||90||Team Penske|
|9||15||Graham Rahal||85||18.0987||0.8633||4||1:11.425||3||17||Honda||142||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing|
|10||30||Takuma Sato||85||23.1137||5.0150||4||1:11.574|| ||11||Honda||90||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing|
|11||1||Josef Newgarden||85||24.2632||1.1495||3||1:11.456||1||6||Chevy||178||Team Penske|
|12||19||Zachary De Melo||85||30.0421||5.7789||3||1:11.755|| ||19||Honda||49||Dale Coyne Racing|
|13||98||Marco Andretti||85||37.4374||7.3953||3||1:11.778|| ||14||Honda||105||Andretti Herta Autosport |
|14||14||Tony Kanaan||85||41.3456||3.9082||4||1:11.630|| ||12||Chevy||95||AJ Foyt Enterprises|
|15||21||Spencer Pigot||85||41.6927||0.3471||6||1:11.808|| ||9||Chevy||76||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|16||59||Max Chilton||85||42.8434||1.1507||3||1:11.642|| ||16||Chevy||58||Carlin|
|17||88||Gabby Chaves||85||45.0983||2.2549||5||1:12.234|| ||22||Chevy||68||Harding Racing|
|18||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||85||53.1086||8.0103||3||1:11.711|| ||13||Honda||125||Andretti Autosport|
|19||32||Kyle Kaiser||85||58.1755||5.0669||4||1:12.535||2||24||Chevy||35||Juncos Racing|
|20||23||Charlie Kimball||85||71.7538||13.5783||4||1:11.812|| ||23||Chevy||60||Carlin|
|21||4||Matheus Leist||85||77.9918||6.2380||4||1:11.777|| ||21||Chevy||60||AJ Foyt Enterprises|
|22||10||Ed Jones||84||1 LAPS||6.7885||4||1:11.840|| ||15||Honda||87||Chip Ganassi Racing Teams|
|23||26||Zach Veach||84||1 LAPS||15.9974||5||1:11.674|| ||20||Honda||84||Andretti Autosport|
|24||20||Jordan King||83||2 LAPS||1 LAPS||4||1:11.470|| ||5||Chevy||44||Ed Carpenter Racing|
Winner's average speed: 113.318 mph
Time of Race: 1:49:46.1935
Margin of victory: 2.2443 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 8 laps
Lead changes: 9 among 7 drivers
Power, Will 1 - 19
Bourdais, Sebastien 20
Newgarden, Josef 21
Rossi, Alexander 22 - 23
Kaiser, Kyle 24 - 25
Wickens, Robert 26 - 40
Power, Will 41 - 42
Rahal, Graham 43 - 45
Wickens, Robert 46 - 50
Power, Will 51 - 85
Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 178, Rossi 176, Bourdais 152, Dixon 147, Hinchcliffe 144, Rahal 142, Power 135, Wickens 133, Hunter-Reay 125, Andretti 105.