Power Finds Sweet Redemption With Victory At Gateway Motorsports Park

Will Power won the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

MADISON, Illinois (Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018) – Will Power went from worst to first at Gateway Motorsports Park in the span of a year and moved into closer contention for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship in the process.

Charging hard from the start, Power took control over the final 100 laps of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline on Saturday night to pick up his third win of the season. He guided the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet across the finish line 1.3117 seconds ahead of Alexander Rossi for the 35th victory of his career and tied Bobby Unser for seventh most in Indy car history.

“We had so much speed in hand, it was kind of fun,” Power said. “I’ve never passed so many cars. You just keep knocking people off one after another.

“That’s the most fun way to go racing is when you can just go hard, you don’t have to think about lifting and being in a lean fuel slot.”

The triumph came a year after Power completed just five laps at Gateway before a crash ended his night and title hopes. Saturday’s victory lifted the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion to third in the standings and within 68 points of leader Scott Dixon, who finished third in the race. Rossi, with his third straight podium finish following a pair of wins, maintained second in the championship and crept within 26 points of Dixon with two races remaining.

Power passed Dixon for first place on Lap 150 of 248 on the 1.25-mile oval. The 37-year-old Australian then zoomed away to a gap of more than seven seconds before making his final pit stop for a splash of ethanol 18 laps from the end, surrendering the lead back to Dixon.

Power regained the lead on Lap 240 after Dixon and other drivers made their last stops for fuel. Rossi, attempting to complete the race in one less pit stop – as he did in winning the 2016 Indy 500 and four weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, nursed his No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda home in second place for his eighth podium finish of 2018.

“It’s a mental game because you’re trying to obviously hit a fuel (mileage) number to go X amount of laps, and it was a very, very big fuel number,” Rossi said. “Unlike the (Indy) 500 in 2016, I didn’t have a teammate to tote me around, so I had to figure out how to do it myself, which was a big challenge.

“But huge hats off to (strategist) Rob Edwards and the whole (No.) 27 NAPA Andretti team for coming up with it and keeping the faith that I could manage it. It was just enough at the end. Obviously, you want to win the race, but the goal really is to beat Scott (Dixon) and we were able to do that, despite it only being a couple-point swing.”

With the victory, Power joined Dixon, Rossi and Josef Newgarden as three-time winners this season. Power swept the May races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course and 102nd Indianapolis 500 on the oval – but Saturday’s win was his first with team owner Roger Penske calling the race strategy.

“I was so happy to win my first race with Roger,” said Power, who delivered Team Penske’s 203rd win in Indy car competition and fifth in nine Gateway races. “I was just wondering when that was going to come because I didn’t get to work with him in Indy and obviously won two races there.”

Dixon led 145 laps from the pole position in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and earned his eighth top-three result of 2018. The four-time series champion has seen his lead shrink from 62 to 26 points over the past three races despite finishing in the top five each time.

“There were two different (fuel) strategies that played out, and I’m a bit mad at myself tonight for not making a decision quicker on which one to take,” Dixon said. “I’m not sure if it would have made a huge difference in the end, but it’s a solid result and we lost just a small bit to Rossi (in the standings).”

Newgarden, the reigning series champion and defending Gateway winner, finished seventh in the race and fell to fourth in the standings, 78 points behind Dixon. Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, finished 20th when mechanical issues parked his No. 28 DHL Honda after 172 laps. At 147 points behind Dixon, Hunter-Reay is fifth in the standings and the only other driver with a mathematical chance to win the championship.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is the Grand Prix of Portland on Sept. 2, marking Indy car racing’s return to Portland International Raceway for the first time since 2007. The race airs live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Mazda Road to Indy recap

Ryan Norman passed teammate Colton Herta six laps from the finish at Gateway Motorsports Park and drove on to his first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires victory following an exciting late-race duel.

Points leader Patricio O’Ward finished third in the 75-lap race run without a caution period to give Andretti Autosport a podium sweep. O’Ward takes a 25-point lead over Herta to the doubleheader finale weekend at Portland International Raceway from Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

In the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing) drove to his fifth consecutive victory and edged closer to clinching the 2018 championship. VeeKay holds a nearly insurmountable 47-point lead over Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport) with only the Portland doubleheader remaining.

Bommarito Automotive Group 500 results
MADISON, Illinois- Results Saturday of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (4) Will Power, Chevrolet, 248, Running
2. (2) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 248, Running
3. (1) Scott Dixon, Honda, 248, Running
4. (6) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 248, Running
5. (16) Zach Veach, Honda, 248, Running
6. (14) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 248, Running
7. (3) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 248, Running
8. (12) Ed Jones, Honda, 248, Running
9. (13) Takuma Sato, Honda, 247, Running
10. (7) Graham Rahal, Honda, 247, Running
11. (21) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 247, Running
12. (11) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 247, Running
13. (15) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 246, Running
14. (10) Marco Andretti, Honda, 246, Running
15. (8) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 246, Running
16. (18) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 246, Running
17. (20) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 244, Running
18. (19) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 242, Running
19. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 235, Running
20. (5) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 172, Mechanical
21. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 0, Contact

Race Statistics

Winner’s average speed: 155.644 mph

Time of Race: 1:59:30.1972

Margin of victory: 1.3117 seconds

Cautions: 2 for 16 laps

Lead changes: 10 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Dixon, Scott 1 – 59
Power, Will 6 – 62
Sato, Takuma 63 – 64
Dixon, Scott 65 – 119
Rossi, Alexander 120 – 123
Sato, Takuma 124 – 125
Dixon, Scott 126 – 149
Power, Will 150 – 230
Dixon, Scott 231 – 237
Veach, Zach 238 – 239
Power, Will 240 – 248

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Dixon 568, Rossi 542, Power 500, Newgarden 490, Hunter-Reay 421, Pagenaud 400, Wickens 391, Rahal 371, Hinchcliffe 353, Bourdais 334.

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