Photo: Walter G. Arce Sr./ASP, Inc.

Will Power Salvages Podium for Chevrolet in Belle Isle

By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor

DETROIT – The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix was a Honda-dominated affair.

Hondas took both Verizon IndyCar Series poles, won both races and led the majority of the laps in-between, leaving the Bowtie’s biggest “highlight” to be a crashed Corvette pace car in the parade laps before Sunday’s race.

It was a difficult weekend for Chevrolet, just down the road from their Detroit corporate offices in Belle Isle. But Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power helped the manufacturer salvage something good out of the doubleheader.

Power delivered a strong qualifying performance in the wet and ran a consistent race to earn a second-place run in Sunday’s Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, securing Chevrolet’s lone finish on the podium as a result.

The run came 11.35 seconds behind race-winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, but it was a result Power was happy to leave Detroit with.

“I feel like this was about as good as we could get, given how fast Hunter-Reay was,” Power said afterward. “There was just no way anyone was going to beat him.

“We just seemed to struggle a little bit on full tanks and cold tires, but very happy with the result. You know, I feel like with what we had, that’s the most that we could have got out of that race, so very happy.”

The Australian entered Detroit on the back end of a busy week. When he lined up to start Race 1 of the weekend on Saturday, the 2014 IndyCar champion was just six days removed from his career-defining triumph in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Most drivers can venture home during the time off between the Month of May and Detroit, but Power’s win led him to partake in the tradition Indy 500 victor’s media tour. He wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything, but the end result was a tiring test of endurance that culminated in what might be IndyCar’s most physical weekend on the bumpy 2.35-mile Detroit street circuit.

His weekend finished, Power just wants to find his bed.

“I’m looking forward to going home,” he said. “I haven’t been home in a month, so just to have like three mornings where I can sleep in a bit will be pretty cool, and be home, spend some time with my little boy and my wife.

“Yeah, it’s been the most hectic time of the year, and yeah, we look forward to the week off after Texas. I think that’ll be very welcome by everyone in the paddock.”

Once he’s done resting, Power will shift his focus to the June 9 race at Texas Motor Speedway. He’ll also begin to size up what he hopes to be his second IndyCar championship.

Power’s podium – paired with a top five in Saturday’s first race of the weekend – saw him leave Belle Isle with a five-point advantage over four-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon in the points standings.

After a Month of May sweep that turned his season around, the 37-year-old hopes that the four-consecutive strong results are symbolic of how the rest of his title pursuit will play out. The last time an Indy 500 winner went on to win the championship was in 2010, when Dario Franchitti earned the second of three-consecutive titles.

“After the 500, it’s just 100 percent focus on a championship,” he said. “Well, it is all year, honestly. Pretty rough start to the year, a lot of little mistakes by me, but overall in a very good position.

“(I’ve) qualified out of the top three once all year. Yeah, we just focus forward, very determined. I felt like I had so many close seconds in my career, so I really want to get another championship.”

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.