Photo: Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

Power Play: Team Penske Veteran Breaks Winless Streak at Road America

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Winless streak no more.

After coming agonizingly close to winning on a number of occasions since his last NTT IndyCar Series victory, Will Power finally had thing go his way Sunday at Road America, winning the XPEL Grand Prix to secure the 42nd win of his illustrious career.

Power had last visited Victory Lane in June 2022 at Detroit, marking a stretch of 736 days since he was victorious.

“I felt good about today. We had a very fast car, but I’ve got to thank all of the guys. Great strategy,” Power said before peeling away to celebrate with his family.

“It’s massively special. We worked so hard to try and get wins and I worked really hard over the offseason. Obviously last season was very stressful. Had half a mind at home and half at the track, so it was difficult to perform at a high level there.

“Man, just stoked. Verizon has been a big supporter of mine for a long time and I’m stoked to see that car back in Victory Lane. Chevrolet had excellent horsepower today. Very happy, man. Very, very happy. It’s very, very well-deserved for the whole team. We worked so hard for that.”

After the caution-filled opening stanza of the race, it became a Team Penske dominated race, with it seemingly coming down to which of the trio of drivers would end the day in Victory Lane, whether it be Power, Josef Newgarden, or Scott McLaughlin.

Power bid his time between Newgarden and McLaughlin as they swapped the lead back and forth, but with one final pit stop still remaining, it would come down to which of the three could pull of the correct strategy play.

McLaughlin was the first of the three to head to pit road on Lap 41, followed by Newgarden on Lap 42, and finally Power on Lap 43.

Ultimately, it was the call for Power to stay out the longest that would put him in prime position to win the race.

Power was able to blend out ahead of Newgarden by some two seconds and it was his race to lose from that point out over the final 10 laps of the race.

Though Newgarden threw some shots at Power to try and eclipse him, Power was a man on a mission, holding steady in the final run to the finish, crossing the line 3.26 seconds ahead of the two-time and reigning Indy 500 champion to finally capture the win that has eluded him for more than two years.

“I wasn’t sure when it was going to happen. I’ve been digging all year. Sometimes it just works out,” Power said.

“Long Beach I was leading by seven seconds. If a yellow doesn’t fall there, I think we were going to have a pretty good day. A reasonable chance at Barber.

“Yeah, very good strategy. Very fast cars. A lot of fun. Like, once all the yellows stopped, it was a very fast-paced race.”

Power also takes over the points lead, holding a five point advantage over defending series champion Alex Palou with 10 races remaining in the season.

“We’re working hard. We want to win the championship. I think we have the cars and the team to do it. Keep pushing.”

Newgarden, in a back-up car after his vicious crash on Saturday during qualifying, lamented the strategy call afterwards, noting that was the tipping point of the race, but had nothing but positive things to say about the total team effort it took to be ready to race on Sunday.

McLaughlin would finish the day in third-place to give Team Penske a 1-2-3 finish – the first for the organization since Sonoma in 2017.

“It was a great day. Great team day. I think we’re all going to be really pleased with the 1-2-3, especially with the 2 car and the disaster yesterday. It was a real team effort to put a new car together. Everybody pitched in, the 12, the 2 and the 3.

“Really rewarding I think for the entire crew when you have to go through something like that, put it all together, we finish 1-2-3, it’s as good as it can get.

“At the same time we sort of gave that one away. I mean, I will say this, too. I felt like we gave it away, but all three of our cars were pretty stellar pace-wise. Whether it was the 3, the 12 or me, I think we all had similar pace.

“With that capability for any of us to win that race was there. You saw the 1-2-3 because of that, I think.”

Alex Palou brought his Honda home in fourth place, followed by Kyle Kirkwood, Colton Herta, Romain Grosjean, Pato O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson, and Graham Rahal.

The race was slowed by caution on three different occasions, all of which came in the first eight laps of the event.

On the opening lap, polesitter Linus Lundqvist, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Armstrong, and Colton Herta were all involved in Turn 1 crash that sent cars scattering to avoid it.

Lundqvist would rebound to 12th, while Armstrong would finish the day in 26th place, retiring with mechanical issues.

Problems weren’t over for Herta with the next caution coming out as a result of debris from Herta’s car on track, with some of the rear diffuser strakes getting ejected from underneath his Honda when he ran off track and over the rumble strips in Turn 1.

Likewise for Ganassi, which had another of its cars – the No. 4 of rookie Kyffin Simpson get spun off the nose of fellow rookie Christian Rasmussen in Turn 14, sending him into the concrete wall and gravel trap in that corner.

Simpson would be done for the day, while Rasmussen was handed a stop and go penalty for avoidable contact for the incident.

The NTT IndyCar Series will take a week off before heading out West to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey on June 23 at 6:00 pm ET on USA Network and Peacock.

XPEL Grand Prix at Road America Results

1. (5) Will Power, Chevrolet, 55, Running
2. (6) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 55, Running
3. (8) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 55, Running
4. (7) Alex Palou, Honda, 55, Running
5. (4) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 55, Running
6. (2) Colton Herta, Honda, 55, Running
7. (14) Romain Grosjean, Chevrolet, 55, Running
8. (11) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 55, Running
9. (15) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 55, Running
10. (24) Graham Rahal, Honda, 55, Running
11. (13) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 55, Running
12. (1) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, 55, Running
13. (18) Theo Pourchaire, Chevrolet, 55, Running
14. (22) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 55, Running
15. (19) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 55, Running
16. (25) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 55, Running
17. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Chevrolet, 55, Running
18. (9) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 55, Running
19. (27) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 55, Running
20. (16) Christian Rasmussen, Chevrolet, 55, Running
21. (10) Scott Dixon, Honda, 55, Running
22. (23) Luca Ghiotto, Honda, 55, Running
23. (21) Nolan Siegel, Chevrolet, 54, Running
24. (17) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 53, Running
25. (20) Jack Harvey, Honda, 51, Running
26. (3) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 35, Mechanical
27. (12) Kyffin Simpson, Honda, 5, Contact

Race Statistics:
Winner’s average speed: 126.154 mph
Time of race: 1:45:00.0267
Margin of victory: 3.2609 seconds
Cautions: 3 for 6 laps
Lead changes: 13 among 7 drivers
Lap leaders:
Kirkwood, Kyle 1 – 3
McLaughlin, Scott 4 – 15
Newgarden, Josef 16
Palou, Alex 17 – 18
Herta, Colton 19 – 20
Rosenqvist, Felix 21 – 23
McLaughlin, Scott 24 – 29
Newgarden, Josef 30 – 31
Palou, Alex 32
Herta, Colton 33 – 35
Newgarden, Josef 36 – 42
Power, Will 43 – 44
Herta, Colton 45 – 48
Power, Will 49 – 55

NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: Power 236, Palou 231, Dixon 225, O’Ward 184, McLaughlin 179, Kirkwood 179, Herta 176, Newgarden 169, Rossi 162, Rosenqvist 157, Lundgaard 141, Ferrucci 132, Ericsson 130, Armstrong 121, Rahal 121, Grosjean 112, VeeKay 109, Lundqvist 100, Simpson 81, Fittipaldi 81, Pourchaire 75, Canapino 74, Robb 68, Rasmussen 65, Harvey 65, Blomqvist 46, Ilott 39, Castroneves 26, Ghiotto 22, Daly 21, Larson 21, Sato 19, Siegel 17, Carpenter 14, Vautier 12, Braun 10, Hunter-Reay 6, Andretti 5, Legge 5 

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.