INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power produced one of the most dominant performances of his career, leading wire-to-wire from the pole position in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to win the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2 on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Though he led all 75 laps in the caution-free race, 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power didn’t cruise to a victory. In the final 10 laps, Power fended off a hard charging Colton Herta in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda, setting up an intense battle between the top two starters of the race for the socially distanced crowd at the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course.
Herta closed a 1.5-second gap with 10 laps to go down to as close as one-half second with five laps remaining, but Power managed to win by .8932 of a second.
“The tires were going away,” Power said. “It was a very tough battle. I had to work very hard to keep him (Colton Herta) behind. Marco (Andretti) didn’t make it easy. Just so happy to have Verizon and Chevy in Victory Lane again. Two Hondas trying to attack us there, but the Chevy had very good power and drivability.
“I’m over the moon to get another win, especially at this place. It was good not to get caught by a yellow or something strange like that. Great stops. We had a very good car; we improved on it from yesterday. Man, I just pushed so hard the whole race. Obviously, we had to save fuel, but you’re still pushing while lifting early into the corners. A fantastic day, fantastic day.”
Alexander Rossi finished third in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda to score his fourth straight podium finish of the season. Josef Newgarden finished fourth in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top five in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
Herta’s second-place result was his fourth career podium finish and second this season, along with his win at Mid-Ohio 2.
“The Capstone Green car was really good,” Herta said. “I’m happy to be powered by HPD, and obviously we had another Andretti 2-3, two cars on the podium, so I’m really excited about that. I just needed a little bit more time and a little bit more tire. (Power) was really fast. I don’t think I could have gotten him today, though.”
Power’s dominating day at Indianapolis was historic. He earned the 61st NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole of his career Saturday morning and inched closer to the legendary Mario Andretti’s record of 67 poles before scoring his 39th career Indy car win, tying him for fifth on the all-time INDYCAR wins list with four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser.
The win, which was the second wire-to-wire win in his career after he led every lap at Barber Motorsports Park in 2011, made him the winningest NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver on the IMS road course with four wins.
“Man, you talk about the names. Just amazing,” Power said. “These people are absolute legends of the sport, and I could have never imagined having my name among such unbelievable historic drivers. All of these guys I was a huge fan of when I was a kid. They’re kind of my heroes, so it’s really cool to have my name up there.”
Of the many on-track battles at the Racing Capital of the World, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points race was one of the most intense as points leader Scott Dixon tried to fend off Newgarden, who took a big chunk out of Dixon’s points lead by winning Friday’s INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1.
Dixon’s race got off to a nerve-wracking start after he started a disappointing 15th and had contact with Ryan Hunter Reay in the No. 28 DHL Honda in Turn 7. The contact resulted in damage to Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with a hole in the left-side undertray of the car.
Dixon powered through the day and managed to score a top-10 finish, crossing the line eighth. But his points lead shrunk yet again due to Newgarden’s top five. Newgarden gained eight points on Dixon and now sits 32 behind Dixon heading into the season finale Oct. 25 at St. Petersburg.
“It’s definitely been a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy,” said Dixon, who has lost 85 points from his lead since he had a 117-point gap after his most recent win on Aug. 29 at World Wide Technology Raceway. “I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points title comes down to the last race, and even without the double points like we’ve seen before.”
Dixon must finish eighth or better at St. Petersburg to clinch his sixth Astor Challenge Cup even if Newgarden scores all 54 points available for a victory, pole, leading one lap and leading the most laps.
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Dixon and two-time and reigning series champion Newgarden would be tied atop the standings if Newgarden scored maximum points and Dixon finished eighth. In that scenario, both drivers would have four victories this season, but Dixon would win the tiebreaker by virtue of his two second-place finishes this season, compared to one for Newgarden.
The season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg can be seen live on NBC Sunday, Oct. 25.