News stories from May 2018



Indianapolis 500


29 May 2018

Will Power finally reaped the reward for containing the emotions that had once beguiled him. And then he let them loose to liven the celebration.


The 37-year-old Australian controlled the final quarter of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday but didn’t hold the lead for good until Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey were forced to abandon a fuel conservation play in the final laps, allowing Power to give owner Roger Penske his record 17th win in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ greatest event.


For a driver who has seen championships and Indianapolis wins fade away under circumstances either bizarre or because of admitted lapses, the 2014 season champion – as has been his aim in recent seasons – was calm and methodical in victory. That is, until he reached victory circle for a manic celebration with his team and wife, Liz. The couple hugged and screamed joyously, almost disbelievingly, at each other.


Pole sitter Ed Carpenter finished second, 3.1589 seconds back despite leading a race-high 65 laps, followed by former Indy 500 winners Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
In the first superspeedway oval use of the universal aerodynamic body kit for both Chevrolet and Honda, 15 different drivers led on Sunday, tying an Indy 500 record set last season. The new kit changed the tone of the event, as predicted by drivers, with turbulent air in traffic, aggressiveness on restarts and handling in corners becoming a critical factor. The advantage of stalking and sling-shotting past a leader was eliminated.


The puckishness of the new kits was dramatically illustrated by veterans Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais, among several, whose races were truncated by spins through corners that ended in contact with the SAFER Barrier.


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato lasted just 46 laps in defense of his 2017 Indy 500 victory, plowing into the back of a laboring James Davison in Turn 3. Davison had struggled with control throughout the race in the No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet for the Foyt with Byrd-Hollinger-Belardi team.


Sato cited high closing rates in the incident and said he was powerless to avoid it once he came within proximity of an “air pocket” behind Davison’s car.


Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ed Jones lost control coming out of Turn 2 and spun into the wall on Lap 58, mashing the right side of his Honda. He was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital complaining of neck pain, was later released but will be re-examined before being cleared to drive.


Patrick had returned to Indianapolis to conclude her career at the epicenter of the fame that made it so notable. As a rookie in 2005, she became the first female to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, finishing what was then a gender-best fourth. Patrick was third in the 500 in 2009.


This was not what she imagined. The 30th-place finish was the worst of her career at the Indianapolis 500, a stark contrast to the six top-10s she produced in her previous seven starts from 2005-11.
Just laps after leading on a pit cycle, Bourdais lost control on Lap 139 and backed the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda into the SAFER Barrier in Turns 3 and 4. Bourdais’ caution period allowed race leader Power and pole sitter Carpenter to reach the 200-lap distance on one more pit stop in what became a strategy-jumbling final third of the race.


The 500 lost another nostalgic storyline on the ensuing restart as veteran Castroneves, in his ninth attempt to capture a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 victory, crashed similarly out of Turn 4. Hunter-Reay plied through tire smoke to barely avoid contact as Castroneves skidded hard backward into an interior SAFER Barrier.


A frustrated Castroneves, who moved to Team Penske’s sports car team full time this season but returned to run the INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indy 500 this month, implored team owner Roger Penske to let him try again next May.


Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, brought out the last of seven caution flags when he spun and crashed off Turn 2 on Lap 189. The restart came with eight laps to go and Power trailing Oriol Servia, Wilson and Harvey. All three were lean on fuel, however, and when Wilson and Harvey had to stop for a splash of ethanol four laps from the finish, the track was clear for Power to drive to the victory.


The win allowed Power to become the first driver to sweep both IMS races in a year, following his May 12 INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course. With the race paying double points, it also put Power into the championship lead after six races, two points up on Alexander Rossi (who finished fourth) and 10 ahead of Josef Newgarden (who finished eighth).


Close has marked Power’s career with Team Penske since he joined the team full time in 2010. He finished second in series points that season after leading the points into the final race, but crashing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dario Franchitti won the championship. Power led the standings again after the penultimate official race of the 2011 season but finished 19th at Kentucky Speedway and saw Franchitti win his third consecutive championship. In 2012, Power topped the standings entering the final at Auto Club Speedway, but an inexplicable crash left the title to Ryan Hunter-Reay. Power eventually finished off a championship in 2014.


The final box, the Indianapolis 500 box, remained bedevilling too, however. After Sunday, he’s led laps in his last six attempts, including his previous best of 23 in 2015, but was outdueled in a furious finish by teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Power was second.


The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, the only doubleheader race weekend on the schedule.
Indycar.com

INDYCAR Grand Prix


16 May 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power has yet to win an Indianapolis 500 in 10 tries but he burnished his status as the master of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course preliminary to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ greatest race by winning the INDYCAR Grand Prix for the third time on Saturday 12 May.


The victory was as much a study in statistical nuggets as the first victory of the 2018 season for Power. It was the 200th win in Indy car history for Team Penske, which made its debut in the sport 50 years ago.


Thirty of those wins have been provided by Power. For the fourth consecutive year, the race was won from the pole, all by Team Penske drivers.


But this was no parade for Power, who duelled in the middle stretches of the race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road course with rookie Robert Wickens, and again in the final laps saving fuel and attempting to maintain a slim gap on master fuel miser Scott Dixon.


Wickens, in the No. 6 Lucas Oil Honda, took primary tires after a Lap 41 stop and Power alternated, using them with his push-to-pass to execute a pass for the lead on the outside coming out of Turn 1 on Lap 51. Wickens made a bid through the first two turn sequences but Power repulsed him to run off again.


Power appeared on a glide pattern for victory until teammate, defending series champion and points leader Josef Newgarden, spun off Turn 12 attempting to pass Sebastien Bourdais for third on Lap 56. The full-course caution put the entire field on the same tire and fuel program and notorious stalker and fuel conservationist Dixon third on the restart with 25 laps left. Dixon passed Wickens for second but never seriously challenged Power.


Dixon, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, said he was surprised at the mileage Power’s Chevrolet provided.


The finish was a repeat of a year ago when Power placed first and Dixon second. Dixon collected the 39th runner-up finish of his career (third all time) and the 97th podium finish (fifth all time).
Wickens placed third, with Bourdais fourth and Alexander Rossi fifth. A late spin relegated Newgarden to 11th place but the Team Penske driver still holds a two-point advantage over Rossi heading into the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.


Wickens, who drove in the European DTM sports car series since 2012 until joining the Verizon IndyCar Series this season, said he’d never been asked to save fuel to the extent he was on Saturday.


The 102nd Indianapolis 500 is set for Sunday, May 27.


Indycar.com