until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


How Power won his first IndyCar race in two years

by Matt Beer
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

A first IndyCar race victory in two years - at the head of a commanding Penske 1-2-3 at Road America - thrust Will Power into the championship lead.

For much of the race, it looked like Power would be at the tail end of that podium sweep behind team-mates Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, before superb laps around the final pitstops allowed him to leapfrog them both.


Had Newgarden won, it would have been a remarkable recovery from an absolutely savage qualifying crash in which he slammed into the wall at the fearsome Kink corner with a truly sickening crack after catching a damp patch on the drying track and snapping into a high-speed spin late in the Fast Six pole shootout.

He walked away from that incident and Penske worked late to get his back-up car ready for him to take up fifth on the grid - one place ahead of Power, who caused his own Fast Six stoppage with a far more benign crash a few minutes earlier.


The red flag for Newgarden’s shunt helped Ganassi’s rookie driver Linus Lundqvist take pole, in a breakthrough result for a driver who hadn’t started a championship round higher than 17th since joining the multiple title-winning team.

Ganassi mastered the changing weather of qualifying best and had all five of its cars in the top 12 on the grid, with young guns Lundqvist and Marcus Armstrong foremost among them in first and third.

That didn’t last long when the race began. As Lundqvist fended off an outside line attack from fast-starting second row man Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti, Armstrong tapped the back of his team-mate and sent them both spinning in front of the pack.

Just behind, Newgarden did likewise to Colton Herta. The officials felt that was an unavoidable chain reaction from the Ganassi tangle ahead, but Herta was absolutely incensed that Newgarden (unlike Armstrong) wasn’t penalised. Given his pace all weekend, including times of being two seconds faster than anyone else during wet running and an eventual recovery to sixth on an alternate strategy despite losing diffuser sections in an early trip over the kerbs and being sent spinning again in a separate incident with Lundqvist, his frustration was understandable, especially as it’s now over two years since he won a race.

Ganassi suffered another blow when its other rookie driver Kyffin Simpson - who’d qualified an IndyCar-best 12th - was fired violently into the wall by Ed Carpenter Racing driver Christian Rasmussen.


That triggered the third yellow of a messy opening few laps, after which the race finally got going properly.

And it quickly became a Penske parade as early leader Kirkwood faded and McLaughlin, Newgarden and Power came to the fore.

All weekend there had been dire predictions of how fragile the softer red tyre would be on the resurfaced track, and the fact no lesser driver when six-time champion Scott Dixon’s race fell apart after a strong start because they blistered badly within six laps in the middle stint seemed to be proof of this.

Newgarden appeared to have pulled off a winning achievement by sticking with McLaughlin while running the red tyres in the first stint and managing a solid stint length on them, leaving him on the more durable black tyres for the rest of the race while knowing both McLaughlin and Power still had the reds to come.

Sure enough, Newgarden passed McLaughlin once the latter was on reds and was comfortably clear of him after the final stops.

But Power also got great life out of his reds when he ran them for his penultimate stint, stayed out a lap longer than Newgarden and vaulted right to the front, before rebuffing Newgarden’s repassing attempt and pulling away to win by three seconds, with Newgarden doing his best afterwards to convey that he was both team-player proud of Penske’s 1-2-3 and absolutely gutted that he’d not stayed out as long as Power when he could’ve done so and made sure he was the ‘1’ not the ‘2’ in that formation.

McLaughlin ended up a further five seconds down on Newgarden in third.

Champion Alex Palou salvaged fourth for Ganassi, unable to match Penske’s pace today but comfortable ahead of Kirkwood and the recovering Herta.

Romain Grosjean drove a combative race from 14th on the grid to take seventh, his best result yet for new team Juncos Hollinger and a welcome piece of positive press for a team whose week has been dominated by the fallout from the abuse sent to Theo Pourchaire by aggrieved fans of regular Juncos driver Agustin Canapino after a Detroit incident. Canapino sat out Road America, with his stand-in Nolan Siegel finishing a distant 23rd.

Pato O’Ward was the top McLaren driver in eighth, ruing having to take the grass to dodge spinning cars in the start mayhem and having been stuck on an alternate strategy thereafter.

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