Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet won the Indianapolis Grant Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the pole position for the third time. It was his 33rd win, 30 of which have been with Penske. He led three times for 56 laps, the most of the record-breaking seven leaders. Many of the lead changes were courtesy of pit stop recycling.
This was the fifth Indy Grand Prix, and all have been won by Penske drivers – three for Power and two for teammate, Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Menard’s Team Penske Chevrolet. And four of those five victories have been from the pole position. For Team Penske, Saturday was its 200th IndyCar victory. Roger Penske said “”What a great day for the team. 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.”
Power said “I’ve never driven so hard for an entire race. I’m so exhausted. It was very hot, and I didn’t drink enough before the race, and when you’re racing so hard during the race you forget to drink, and you get to the end, and suddenly you’re like, man, I don’t feel good. While you’re racing you’re fine, but as soon as I stopped, I was like, ooh. It was a pretty hard day. I wasn’t feeling it. In the car, man, it doesn’t even register. You know when you start to hear your heartbeat in your ears is when you hear that — that’s when you know you’re starting to struggle a little, which I actually did hear; but that’s what you do all the fitness for. Like I do some pretty high intense fitness, and it’s no different to that. That’s why you do it. You’ve got to be able to pump it out all the way through the race. Who cares how you feel after?”
“I can’t thank Roger Penske enough for the opportunity he’s given me. It’s a real pleasure to drive for him.”
When asked how he saved tires, fuel and patience, he said “Yeah, it was an amazing race actually. Obviously, Wickens (Robert) came out on reds and I was on blacks and man, I’ve never driven so hard to watch a gap grow. But, obviously when I went to the reds, then I had to try to pass him back. And then, he had to save a lot of fuel at the end and go fast; because I knew how good (Scott) Dixon is at saving fuel and going fast. But the Chevy had great fuel mileage, and I’ve never driven so hard for an entire race. Like I was 100 percent the whole time. I’m exhausted.”
“We’ve noticed that Honda had been getting good fuel mileage. I got the number, and I got it pretty much every lap.”
In the waning laps, Power kept stretching is lead over Dixon, going from 2.3162 seconds on Lap 78 to 2.7840 seconds by Lap 83. Dixon gave it the old college try and the Margin of Victory was whittled to 2.2443 seconds.
Power turned a couple of fastest race laps, including the fastest leader lap of 123.231 mph/1:10.5687 on Lap 9; but the overall fastest lap was turned by runner-up Scott Dixon/No.9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, whose fastest lap of 124.423 mph/1:10.5687 was turned on Lap 15.
Third and top Rookie was Wickens who had started second and led once for 20 laps. He had been running second on Lap 63, when third place Dixon made a smooth move on Wickens at the end of the front straight on Lap 64, which got the crowd’s attention.
Wickens said “I thought it wasn’t that interesting. I stayed off Push-to-Pass to try to save fuel, and I saw that he was on it, and I thought, oh, maybe I can keep him on the outside and hang on, but he kind of already had me cleared on the outside before braking, and I thought I’d try to keep in there and see what happens, but obviously it just — he’s a very talented guy. It’s not his first rodeo, he made it stick and everything was good, but it was good hard racing from everyone today. I had a couple fights with Will, with Scott, with Alex, and it was all just good, hard, fair fun, to be honest, so I thought it was pretty exciting.That was the first race where I kind of felt like a true rookie there in that final stint because I’ve never had to save fuel before. We’ve kind of practiced it a little bit in warmup where you do like one lap of fuel save. But the amount of fuel that we were having to save to make that work was something that I didn’t even think was possible.”
Dixon said “I just was hoping that he was maybe concentrating on saving fuel because I knew it was going to be fairly difficult to get the mileage that we needed to, and I thought I’d try it early to be aggressive and try and get the fuel mileage later if we needed to, so that was basically the strategy. It’s very hard to defend if someone behind you is on overtake and you’re not, just the rate of speed, especially on long straights like this it’s almost impossible. Yeah, it was a pretty basic one. That’s what it was.
Dixon said “It was definitely a rough weekend. The heat really seemed to affect our car a lot. Happy with today. 18th, my worst qualifying without crashing or having a technical issue, to second. Obviously we come here to win, but congratulations to Will, and obviously Penske’s 200th IndyCar win is definitely a big milestone, and it was good to see him get it.”
Fourth and fifth were Sebastien Bourdais/No.18 Team SealMaster Dale Coyne Racing Honda and Alexander Rossi/No.27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti Autosport Honda.
Bourdais said “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.”
All 24 drivers finished, 21 of them on the lead lap.
There were two cautions. The first lasted three laps on the start when two cars came together in Turn Two. Rookie Jordan King/No.20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet had been having such a good weekend up until this point until he and Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet came together. Pagenaud powered through the contact in the grass and kept on going. King had to be helped by the Emergency Crew and restarted, allowing him to continue, albeit two laps down. He finished last, and Pagenaud salvaged an eighth place finish after starting seventh.
The other caution was on Lap 56 for four laps when Josef Newgarden/No.1 Verizon Team Penske spun while trying to pass Bourdais. They touched, Bourdais continued, and Newgarden stalled in Turn 12. The responding Emergency Crew started Newgarden. He had started sixth and was running fourth when he had the spin, which dropped him to twenty-first. He made several smooth moves and finished eleventh. No action was taken by the Stewards for this incident, or another one involving Newgarden and Takuma Sato/No.30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. Sato finished tenth.Afterwards, Newgarden said “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.”
The only Steward’s action was a Drive-through penalty for Spencer Pigot/No.21 Preferred Freezer Service Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet for avoidable contact in his incident with Sato in Turn Six. It was a eye-catching contact, with Pigot going four-wheels in the air over the berm, coming down with quite a bounce. Sato continued, as did Pigot, who finished fifteenth.
There were a number of incidents over which the Stewards took No Action. Gaby Chaves/No.88 Harding Group Chevrolet and Charlie Kimball/No.23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet; and Kimball and Ed Jones/No.10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in Turn One.
A record number of lead changes occurred during the first half of the race, mostly due to Pit Stops. The second caution on Lap 56 for a spin by Josef Newgarden brought on mass stopping in the pits, leading to fuel conservation mode so drivers could last til the finish with no more pit stops. As it happened, three cars littered the landscape on the cool-off lap, after running out of fuel – Rahal, James Hinchcliffe/No.5 Arrows Electronics SPM Honda, and King.
Showers flashed all around north of the track, but stayed away … until Lap 72 when rain drops supposedly were detected around various parts of the 2.439-mile road course. No one pitted for tire changes. The sun came out.
The speedway now closes for two days to convert the track back to its original oval configuration, with the first Indy 500 practice starting on Tuesday.
OFFICIAL INDYCAR RESULTS
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
1 – Joseph Newgarden – 178
2 – Alexander Rossi – 176
3 – Sebastien Bourdais – 152
4 – Scott Dixon – 147
5 – James Hinchcliffe – 144
6 – Graham Rahal – 142
7 – Will Power – 135
8 – Robert Wickens – 133
9 – Ryan Hunter-Reay – 125
10 – Marco Andretti – 105