By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
A quick pitstop and picture perfect pass propelled Will Power to his first Verizon IndyCar Series win in over a year at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
The Aussie’s day started in a hole after an interference penalty in qualifying knocked him from the pole position and dropped him to eighth place on the grid as Team Penske Simon Pagenaud inherited the top spot for the second race in a row. The race got off to a rocky start when Charlie Kimball swerved next to Carlos Munoz who in turn sent James Hinchcliffe into the wall. Takuma Sato and Max Chilton were also collected as was Marco Andretti, who made contact with Sato.
Pagenaud sailed away in clean air throughout the race’s first half with Ryan Hunter-Reay trailing him and had no real threats for the lead until the race’s second full course caution for Juan Pablo Montoya’s crash into the Turn 9 barrier and then stopping on the track. The caution erased Pagenaud’s somewhat large lead and brought teammate and 2-time Detroit winner Helio Castroneves right on the rear wing of the No. 22 HP Chevrolet.
The race restarted on lap 38 with Pagenaud initially holding off Castroneves before the Brazillian stole the lead away from him on lap 40 in Turn 4. Out in clean air, Castroneves was unbeatable and built up a 2 second margin on Pagenaud before green flag pitstops started on lap 48. Pagenaud pitted on lap 49 along with Hunter-Reay and Power and stayed ahead of his rivals while Power overtook Hunter-Reay on the heels of a lightning quick pitstop.
Bad luck would fall Castroneves way as the yellow flag flew on lap 50 for the stalled car of Jack Hawksworth and he was forced to surrender the lead by pitting under yellow.
That handed the lead over to yesterday’s winner Sebastien Bourdais, who was on an alternate strategy along with Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi. Pagenaud lined up in fifth place with Power just behind in sixth place.
Bourdais held the lead on the restart with 18 laps to go while Power made a move on Pagenaud for fifth place on lap 52 which then moved him to the lead of all of the cars that had pitted before the yellow flag. After Bourdais, Kimball, Rahal and Rossi all pitted, Power found himself in the lead with a 1.43 second advantage over Pagenaud on lap 61.
With lapped traffic not a factor, Power cruised away and crossed the line 0.9203s ahead of Pagenaud to claim his second win at Detroit and his first win since last year’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
“The guys did a great job in the pits, got me out in front of the 28, then obviously on the restart, I thought, ‘I’ve really got to capitalize here, otherwise, we’re not going to win.’ said Power.
“It just gives the whole crew some confidence. I think we’ve all kind of been stumbling a little bit, the whole group of us. It’s been a tough start to the year. I missed the first race and just had a few mishaps, you know, and now we’re there.” (About taking the lead): “It wasn’t a big risk because it was on the outside. Had I tried to go on the inside, it would have been a much bigger risk. I wasn’t willing to take that with Simon because he’s the championship leader. So, if I was going to do it, I had to do it on the outside and cleanly. There was a space and I went for it.”
With the second place finish today and a 13th place finish yesterday, Pagenaud still retains the points lead albiet just 59 points ahead of teammate Castroneves, who now moves into second place. Ryan Hunter-Reay finished in third and Josef Newgarden rebounded from starting in 17th place to finish fourth. Scott Dixon rebounded from gearbox problems yesterday to finish in 5th and Conor Daly recovered from a qualifying penalty that put him 21st on the grid with a clean and smooth drive that resulted in a 6th place finish.
Tony Kanaan ended up in seventh place followed by yesterday’s winner Sebastien Bourdais in eighth while ninth and tenth went to Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato, who both recovered from being involved in the crash on the first corner of the race.
Full results here: Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2