By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Will Power fended off a late charge from Tony Kanaan to seal a dominating performance and win the KOHLER Grand Prix in IndyCar’s return to Road America.
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion led 46 of 50 laps from pole to secure his 27th career victory and second in a row following his win in the second race of the Belle Isle doubleheader.
The only caution of the afternoon happened on lap 40 when rookie Conor Daly had an apparent left rear tire issue while exiting pit road, charging the hold off Ryan Hunter-Reay before skating off the track and into the gravel before hitting the Turn 1 wall.
The incident set up a five lap shootout between with Power leading championship leader and Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, followed by Kanaan and Graham Rahal.
Power jumped out comfortably on the restart, leaving Pagenaud in the clutches of Kanaan, who made quick work of the Frenchman at Turn 12 and set his sights on the leader.
Pagenaud saw his near podium evaporate as the championship leader began to freefall down the running order before ultimately finishing 13th.
With Kanaan on the higher grip Firestone red tires and Power on the blacks, the Brazilian then began to take chunks out of the 2.5s deficit, getting within 0.4s of the Aussie on lap 49 but failing to pull off the race-winning pass.
An emotional Power acknowledged the intense battle in final few laps with Kanaan.
“TK had the reds on and was coming hard,” Power said.
“He was quick all race. I had my work cut out and did everything I could to stay ahead. I’m stoked to get the Verizon car to Victory Lane. Thanks to Chevy. It’s a phenomenal car and phenomenal engine. I’m just so stoked.
“I wasn’t going to let it go on the restart. I was determined to get a great restart and keep the lead. TK was mega quick there at the end. I just had a few more push to pass left and that helped. The Firestones were great. We had no problems We could do full stints. It was just great, great.”
Power referenced that he was thinking of the championship before even setting a lap out this weekend.
I was talking championship even before this race,” Power continued. “There are seven races to go and we’re still in it. There could be a 100-point swing in the last race. We have to go for it.
“It’s just a great place and I’m just so stoked to win that way. I badly wanted to win another race. I needed that one. It is huge!
Rahal finished third to grab his second career podium at the 4.048-mile oval.
Josef Newgarden, who had a double impact crash at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks ago and broken right clavicle and fractured right hand, overcame the odds and managed to will his No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet to an eighth-place finish.
Defending series champion Scott Dixon saw his chances for win end early with engine woes, finishing 22nd and dropping from second to fourth in the points standings.
Full results here: KOHLER Grand Prix Race Results