INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Will Power etched his name further into the INDYCAR Grand Prix record books while extending the legacy of team owner Roger Penske in Indy car history.
Power won the Verizon IndyCar Series race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the second straight year and third time overall – each victory coming from the pole position.
Power’s triumph by 2.2443 seconds over Scott Dixon also marked Indy car win No. 200 for Team Penske, nearly double that of any other team.
“It’s amazing,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. “It just shows what sort of team that Penske is, and it’s a real honor to drive for Roger. We’re given the equipment week in and week out to win, so I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity he’s given me.”
Power led 56 of 85 laps on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road course to collect his 33rd career victory (ninth all time). Thirty of those triumphs have come since joining Team Penske in 2009, tying the 37-year-old Australian with Helio Castroneves for the most with the team.
Power chased down race leader Robert Wickens, who started second in the No. 6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, and made a daring outside pass heading into turn 1 on lap 51 to take first place. Seven laps later, Power’s crew barely got him out of the pits in front when nearly the entire field made final stops for fuel and tires under the second and last full-course caution of the race.
From there, Power kept Wickens and then Dixon in his mirrors to the finish – all the while stretching his tank of fuel to the checkered flag.
“I had to save a lot of fuel at the end and go fast because I knew how good Dixon is at saving fuel and going fast. The Chevy had great fuel mileage,” said Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “Man, I’ve never driven so hard for an entire race. I was 100 percent the whole time. Yeah, I’m exhausted. Every lap was like a qualifying lap.”
Team Penske made its Indy car debut on June 15, 1968, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, with driver Mark Donohue. Three years later, Donohue delivered the team’s first win at Pocono Raceway. In 1972, Donohue drove to the first of what is now a record 16 Indianapolis 500 wins for Team Penske. Adding the four INDYCAR Grand Prix victories, 10 percent of Team Penske’s Indy car wins (20 of 200) have come at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Penske, the 81-year-old mastermind of the team, downplayed the achievement of the 200th win. He gave credit to Power and his crew while also looking ahead to the prize he craves most – another Indianapolis 500 win.
“What a great day for the team,” Penske said. “The greatest drivers have performed for us. IMS is the most special place to secure our 200th win. I could not think of a better setting. The most important win now is No. 201.”
Dixon, bidding to pick up a 42nd career victory that would tie him for third all-time with Michael Andretti, was satisfied to finish runner-up for the 39th time in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda – particularly after a disappointing qualifying effort on Friday locked him into the 18th starting position.
“It was a great result today for the PNC Bank car and the whole team,” the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion said. “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.”
Wickens continued to impress in his rookie season, collecting a second podium and third top-four finish in five races. The 29-year-old Canadian admitted that trying to race hard while conserving fuel in the final stint was a learning experience.
“It was the first time in my career I’ve had to save fuel like that, but in the end, happy with the podium,” Wickens said. “Would have liked to be a bit further up, but hard to complain.”
Sebastien Bourdais finished fourth in the No. 18 Honda, using his push-to-pass overtake boost on the final lap to zip past Alexander Rossi for the position. Helio Castroneves, making his Verizon IndyCar Series return following a full-time switch this season to Team Penske’s sports-car program, placed sixth in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet.
The race tied an INDYCAR Grand Prix record with seven different leaders and featured 214 on-track passes with the 2018 car’s universal aero kit – an increase of 96 passes from a year ago.
There were two full-course caution periods for eight laps. The first came on the opening lap when Castroneves and teammate Simon Pagenaud touched, and Jordan King ran into the back of Pagenaud. The second caution waved on lap 56 when Josef Newgarden spun trying to pass Bourdais.
Newgarden finished the race in 11th place, but continues leading the standings. The reigning series champion is two points ahead of Rossi, 26 up on Bourdais and 31 ahead of Dixon.
Following two days off to convert the cars and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to superspeedway oval configuration, practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 begins on Tuesday.
Verizon IndyCar Series
Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Indianapolis. IN
INDYCAR Grand Prix – May 12, 2018
1. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (18) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
3. (2) Robert Wickens, Honda, 85, Running
4. (3) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 85, Running
5. (8) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (4) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
8. (7) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (17) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
10. (11) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
11. (6) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 85, Running
13. (14) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
14. (12) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
15. (9) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 85, Running
16. (16) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 85, Running
17. (22) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
19. (24) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 85, Running
20. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 85, Running
21. (21) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 85, Running
22. (15) Ed Jones, Honda, 84, Running
23. (20) Zach Veach, Honda, 84, Running
24. (5) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 83, Running
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
Lap Leaders: 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
Point Standings: Newgarden 178, Rossi 176, Bourdais 152, Dixon 147, Hinchcliffe 144, Rahal 142, Power 135, Wickens 133, Hunter-Reay 125, Andretti 105.