Will Power used the backdrop of iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway to move past a pair of Team Penske greats in the Indy car record book.
Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power dominated today’s INDYCAR Grand Prix on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course to collect win No. 30 in his 13-year Indy car career. The milestone victory pushed the 36-year-old Power ahead of current teammate Helio Castroneves and retired Team Penske legend Rick Mears for sole possession of 11th place on the all-time list.
INDYCAR GRAND PRIX: Box score
Power, making his 175th career start, led 61 of the 85 laps in the caution-free race and cruised across the finish line 5.283 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Power has now won at least one race in 11 straight seasons and becomes the fifth different driver to win in as many Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.
“It feels really good to finally have a good day,” Power said. “Everyone on this team has been working really hard. We should have had a couple of wins by now.
“I think that is (win) No. 30; that is a good number. I want to make it 31 by the end of this month.”
Power owned the INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend. He was fastest in every practice session, earned the pole position Friday with a track-record lap in Verizon P1 Award qualifying and set a race record speed average of 120.813 mph. Amassing the maximum possible points, Power advanced two positions into fifth in the standings in his quest for a second series championship.
“After (morning) warmup, I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve actually been quickest in every session. Yeah, it would be amazing to win the race.’
“It’s funny, momentum, once your whole team and crew believes that you have a shot at winning races – which we have had all year – but when you execute it, it definitely gives them confidence. It’s just good (to) get a win and very, very good for everyone.”
Dixon made his 275th career start and extended his consecutive starts streak to 212 races, breaking a tie for the second-longest all-time run with Jimmy Vasser. Only Dixon’s current teammate Tony Kanaan – who started his 270th straight race today – has run more Indy car races consecutively.
“I think today we got the most out of it,” said Dixon, the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion. “The car was pretty strong, we had good pace, but we just couldn’t hold on to the rears. I think the Honda was just too much for the (Firestone alternate) red tires for the most part.
“Good points for everybody on the NTT Data car, great day for Honda. Obviously not a win, but very close.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay moved from eighth on the starting grid to finish a season-best third in the No. 28 DHL Honda. It marked the 100th top-10 finish of the Andretti Autosport driver’s career and gave the 36-year-old American a feeling of momentum heading into Indianapolis 500 competition that starts with practice on Monday.
“It’s certainly a nice feeling,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series and 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion. “This group isn’t happy if we’re not on the top step (of the podium), but we’ve had a lot of bad luck this year, a lot of misfortune. It’s been a frustrating start to the year, but we kept our heads down and today we came home with a solid result.
“This is nice to roll into the next two weeks, preparing for the biggest race in the world.”
Power became the third straight pole sitter to win the INDYCAR Grand Prix. He did so in 2015 and Simon Pagenaud followed suit last year.
Pagenaud, the reigning series champion, finished fourth in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet to retain the points lead after five of 17 races. Pagenaud now has 191 points to Dixon’s 181. Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden (152), Castroneves (149) and Power (145) hold the third through fifth spots, respectively.
Next up on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Practice for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” begins Monday. Two days of qualifying are set for May 20-21, with the 200-lap race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval scheduled for May 28 (11 a.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).