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Power Wins Third INDYCAR Grand Prix

Will Power won the INDYCAR Grand Prix for the third time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Will Power won the INDYCAR Grand Prix for the third time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

Three poles and three wins. Great fuel mileage. Tough competition. Tire decisions. All four of these made for an interesting INDYCAR Grand Prix win for Team Penske’s Will Power Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Power, who was elated to win the pole on Friday was “over the top” today as a switch to Firestone Red tires moved the Aussie into the lead for good on lap 51; a lead he guarded fiercely until the end.

“The Red tires made for a good race, but the big (fuel) number I had to make to get to the end of the race was tough,” noted the winner of his 33rd Indy car race. “I had to do my best through the corners to make that fuel number.”

Chevrolet may have won for Power but the Hondas of Scott Dixon and rookie Robert Wickens provided that tough competition and good fuel mileage making for a competitive race.

“We chased our tails all weekend,” admitted runner up Scott Dixon who started in 18th place in his Chip Ganassi Honda and spent the first half of the race getting through the pack so that he could at least see the leaders. “We started deep in the pack because the heat in qualifying sessions caused us problems. We threw the “kitchen sink” at it in warmups today and we found quite a bit. It got well balanced.”

Another well balanced car was the SPM Lucas Oil Honda of Robert Wickens who started next to Power on the front row. He led 20 laps early on and hung around the top spots despite having some problems with his Red tires, but admitted to having had even more trouble learning the fuel saving game. “I felt like a true rookie trying to save. I’m glad we made our fuel numbers; saving fuel saved us the race. I haven’t had to do that before,” noted the series rookie in just his fifth Indy car race.

Behind the podium trio, a fierce battle rumbled to the end with Sebastien Bourdais, Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe chasing the leaders, hoping someone made a mistake. Bourdais won out and seemed glad for that. “The new aero (kit) on our cars was tricky today. I couldn’t quite close the gap as I thought our fuel saving was never going to work. I held my position when I saw it would be a good finish or nothing.”

Rossi held off Castroneves who has returned to Team Penske’s Indy Car effort this month from his full time role on Penske’s sports car program. “That was a good run today; very exciting. Hopefully we’ll do better in the 500.”

For Power it has been a tough start to the season with finishes of 10th, 22nd, second and 21st before today’s win. But that bold first turn pass of Wickens for the lead on lap 50 seemed to wipe away some of the frustration as he pulled out to a 2.2 second win over Dixon and even more over Wickens. “We both put on the softer Red Firestones after that last pit stop on lap 59. I spent some time trying to hold him back after the pass. We were much quicker on the Reds.”

Power’s final run to the win may have looked easy from the grassy berms, but according to Power it didn’t seem so from the cockpit. “I had to hit all my marks perfectly after that pass. Every lap was like qualifying and I haven’t had to do that before. “

He’ll have a chance to try it again in the different environment of the track’s high-speed oval in the Indy 500. Another win; possibly. Another challenge; definitely.

NOTES:
• The win was Powers 33rd of his career; the 30th with Team Penske.
• Light rain fell near the track during the final laps but never got to the racing surface.
• For “The Captain” it was the 200th Indy car win. Chip Ganassi Racing is second among active teams with 103 wins.
• Josef Newgarden held on to the series’ points lead despite a spin on lap 56. His 11th-place finish leaves him two points ahead of Rossi (178-176). Trailing the lead duo are Bourdais (152), Dixon (147) and James Hinchcliffe (144).
• Honda captured 7 of the Top 10 finishing spots despite Chevrolet getting the win.
• His was the third time in five Indy Car Grand Prix’s here that Power has won the pole and followed it with a race win.

INDYCAR Grand Prix race results
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana- Results Saturday of the INDYCAR Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
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

Race Statistics:
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

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 178, Rossi 176, Bourdais 152, Dixon 147, Hinchcliffe 144, Rahal 142, Power 135, Wickens 133, Hunter-Reay 125, Andretti 105.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”