Will Power
Victorious Will Power. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

Will Power/No.1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet won the Verizon IndyCar Series Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2014 INDYCAR Champion has ticked off another of his goals. First was the Championship, showing he was good all season. Now to conquer Indy, and he’s “off to a good start for the month of May. It’s just an unbelievable month for motorsport – at the Cathedral of Speed. And, yeah, it would be very cool to get the double.”

The weather remained dry … until after all the ceremonial pomp and circumstance and media conferences.

Podium Play with Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and Graham Rahal

The podium finishers were Power, Graham Rahal/No.15 Steak n’ Shake Honda, and Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

Power’s team owner, Roger Penske, said it was his seventeenth victory at the Brickyard – 15 at the Indy 500, one NASCAR Nationwide race and now the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Verizon Team Penske has had nine straight pole positions dating back to last year.

Will Power

Grand Prix Trophy

Playful Power

Playful and relaxed Power met with the media after his well-earned victory. He said “It was exactly the race we asked for. I got the pole, won the race, no yellows, pretty straight forward. No mistakes, good start, good restart, good stops, good out-laps, and good in-laps. Just did everything we needed to do to win. It was a very good day.

“I was just super determined to make it happen. I knew Rahal was closing pretty fast at the end when I had to save fuel. That’s the most physical race I’ve done – long loading corners and massive braking zones. It’s just a lot of g-forces, lot of heavy steering, a lot of grip. and it’s a great start to the month. It was also mentally tough- I was drained because you keep pumping out laps non-stop.

“Graham is the class of the Hondas. I’d be worried if he was in a Chevy. He would absolutely be a championship contender. He is now, in a Honda.”

Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal

RAHAL: This tiny little one-car team is fighting with Penske. That feels pretty good. We’re kinda carrying the banner, the flag, for Honda at the moment. Honest to God, it played out perfectly.

“I think from the start we went from 17th to sixth. From there really we just got everybody in the pits. I think on the first stop we went from sixth to second. The car I had today was better. There’s an inherent weakness. The Honda likes to go sideways. We have to get more drivability out of the car.” He joked – “And no, I’m not going to share setups. RHR already asked for my spring rates and I told him to get a life. I told him 4500 pounds. That would be good.”

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya

MONTOYA: I’m really happy with where we stand now. We struggled a lot, miles off the setup. Finally learned what we need to run the car. We figured out the street courses, we’re really strong there. We found it here with the road courses. It’s pretty good. It really helps being with Penske. We have four strong drivers, four ideas, four directions. Somebody’s going to get it right. It makes life really cool. It means 90 percent of the time you’re going to have a fast car.

Regarding the Turn One incident, Montoya said “Listen – you put a first gear corner at the end of a long straight – what do you expect? Rahal said “Dad and I discussed strategy before the race, and I said ‘I’m going to go as far left as I can. When they all crash on the inside, I’ll be on the outside.” Power said “I got a good start. I just protected the inside and I went out, looked in the mirror to make sure Dixon wasn’t on the inside. I just saw him spinning. Kind of felt bad because he’d been talking about that when we went around the parade lap pre race. He said he was really worried about the first corner. Sure enough, exactly what he said would happen, happened.”

Seven cars were visibly involved in the Turn One incident when the pack funneled down into the sharp first corner. Others got banged and bent. Third place starter, Helio Castroneves/No.3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, rear-ended second place starter, Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. At least two cars stalled and had to be started – Jack Hawksworth/No.41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt and Josef Newgarden/No.21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet. Everyone else continued, eventually, but some had to pit for repairs.

The Turn One incident brought out a caution, lasting two laps. There were no penalties.

The podium players were asked about their problems with slower cars impeding progress. Montoya and Rahal were up front about being blocked by Newgarden, who was two laps down. Rahal cited rules given in Driver’s Meetings – “If you’re a lap down, you get out of the way.” Montoya said he was “glad somebody was more pissed off than me. You shouldn’t be getting in the way of the leaders. The guy won last week. He should know better. If they did it to him last week, and he lost the race because of that, he would have been crying and moaning.” Rahal said it took him twenty laps to get by Newgarden. Power was a bit more circumspect, saying he had problems with the two Schmidt Peterson cars.

Newgarden was quoted after the race as saying “I’m sure a lot of people weren’t happy with us trying to get our lap back, but we were still racing the best that we could. If a yellow fell, we could’ve gotten that so that’s the reason we were pushing so hard for two-thirds of the race.”

The podium drivers were caught on film taking the Ultimate Selfie. Power was asked that if as much as he wants to win the Indy 500, would he have the presence of mind to get the phone out in Victory Lane. Power hesitated not a bit. “Yes. My wife gives it to me. It’s actually her phone I took it with. Imagine that. Now that’s a selfie right there. You’re there with the milk. Ain’t got anyone else on the podium, just you and the milk.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Graham Rahal
The Ultimate Selfie. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

All Victory Circle Podium courtesy of Pablo Matamoros.