Will Power laid to rest his demons of the start of the year by taking his first win of his season in emphatic style at the prelude to the Indy 500, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis
Simon Pagenaud looked to be in ominous form. At the last race, he had taken a dominant victory in Phoenix and had a sizeable championship lead. Power meanwhile had slipped back from an initial early lead and had just held off a charging J.R Hildebrand for second place. Power now wanted to go one better and take his first win of the year at Indianapolis.
And he did just that. After qualifying on pole he lead virtually all the way leading home the Ganassi of Scott Dixon. Power had maintained his lead at the start of the race but after the first pit stops he lost the lead to teammate Helio Castroneves who himself was looking for his first win of the year and his first since Detroit 2014. Power had taken the slower primary black tyre whereas Castroneves was on the fast degrading and quicker red tyres. The gap between the leaders closed before the second of their three pitstops as Power looked to take the advantage again.
“It wasn’t that easy; we weren’t cruising out front. The tires would degrade, so you had to push without leaning on it too much.”
That is exactly what happened in the second stops. Power jumped his teammate who had been caught behind Tony Kanaan on his inlap. Kanaan had been hit by Marco Andretti on the opening lap and was running at the back, meaning Castroneves was compromised in his attempts to retain the race lead. After this, Power held the lead right up until the checkered flag and he took the second victory of his at the road course at Indianapolis. The last few laps saw a charge from Scott Dixon who once again lead the way for the Honda teams. He got by Castroneves late in the race as the Brazilian ran the primary blacks. But ultimately Power was out of reach, but Dixon did close the gap to Simon Pagenaud in the standings who had a fairly quiet race to P4.
“I think today, we got the most out of it. The car was pretty strong. We had good pace, but we just couldn’t hold on to the rear tires. We could close the gap. But then definitely the last sort of five laps or eight laps of the stint, we just couldn’t put the power down and we were very loose.”
Castroneves slipped to 5th and Ryan Hunter-Reay took the final stop on the podium for the Andretti team. It was fully deserved for the American as he had lost a possible 2nd place and maybe a win at Long Beach when his car gave up the ghost near the end of that race. Another strong performer was Graham Rahal, who just a few days after his granddads death took a brilliant 6th from 20th on the grid and a great way to pay tribute to a lost family member. Sebastien Bourdais suffered engine failure at the start of the race whilst Alexander Rossi had a feisty drive to P8. Returnee Juan-Pablo Montoya took P5 in qualifying but sadly only managed a P10 finish as he gears up for the 500. Josef Newgarden served two penalties, the second one being speeding as he served his first one and could only manage a 11th place finish. He will be hoping for more luck soon as the next race is the big one. The Indianapolis 500.