Indy GP: Power masters IMS road course, scores 30th win

Will Power led every session at the Indianapolis road course and became the fifth different winner in five races in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series.

Indy GP: Power masters IMS road course, scores 30th win
Start: Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet lead
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Front-row starters Will Power and Helio Castroneves got relatively cleanly through Turn 1 in their Penske-Chevrolets, but behind, Scott Dixon got his Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda ahead of Josef Newgarden’s Penske under braking for Turn 1 to snatch third.

Juan Pablo Montoya, in his series return, maintained his starting position of fifth ahead of Alexander Rossi’s Andretti Autosport-Honda, Sebastien Bourdais’ Dale Coyne Racing-Honda, Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet’s Spencer Pigot, up six places from his grid slot.

Kanaan had to hit pitlane after being tapped by Marco Andretti, and they both drifted on to the grass at Turn 7, with Kanaan also clipped by Ed Jones’ Dale Coyne Racing-Honda. Andretti earned himself a drive-through penalty although he would still emerge ahead of Kanaan, who was forced to pit with a puncture.

Bourdais went straight on at Turn 1 with a blown engine on Lap 4, handing sixth to Rossi, while Pigot took advantage of some side-by-side dueling between Pagenaud and Hunter-Reay to get ahead of the Frenchman and into eighth behind RHR. Conor Daly held down 10th in the AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet.

By lap 10, Power had a 3sec margin over Castroneves, with Dixon running 1.4sec behind the Brazilian and Newgarden and Montoya equidistant in arrears.

Hunter-Reay passed Rossi for sixth on Lap 16, and at the start of Lap 17, Pigot also passed the #98 Andretti machine.

By Lap 17, Castroneves had pared his deficit to Power down to 1.7sec, and James Hinchcliffe pitted his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda from 11th.

Hunter-Reay and Pigot hadn’t stopped charging yet, both passing Montoya on Lap 19 to take fifth and sixth, while just behind them, Pagenaud also moved up, passing Rossi and Montoya on Lap 20.

Pigot had a disastrous first pitstop on Lap 21, stalling as he attempted to leave his pitbox, while Castroneves pitted on Lap 22 for reds, leaving Power leading Dixon by 7.8sec.

Power and Dixon stopped on Lap 23, both taking the primary tires, but Castroneves’ earlier stop and instant grip from red tires paid off perfectly, as a strong out lap meant he took the lead from Power, and they ended Lap 24 1.2sec apart, and 8sec up on Dixon.

Newgarden was 3.3sec behind Dixon after the stops, while Hunter-Reay, Pagenaud, Hinchcliffe, Daly, Rossi and Ganassi’s Max Chilton were all now running ahead of the fifth Penske of Montoya. A charging and furious Pigot soon muscled past Montoya too.

Castroneves was at this point trying to nurse his reds yet also take advantage of their superior grip by gently stretching away from Power. On Lap 30, the Brazilian’s lead was out to 2.5sec.

In the meantime, considering Honda was at an aerokit drag-induced deficit to Chevrolet on this track, Hunter-Reay was doing well to keep Pagenaud a consistent 1.8sec behind and Newgarden no more than 1.8sec ahead, despite all of them being on primary tires.

Meanwhile Hinchcliffe and Rossi, both on alternate compound tires, were hassling Pagenaud for sixth but in fact it was Rossi who made the first move, passing Hinch for seventh on Lap 35. Chilton made an aggressive move on Hinch to further demote him on Lap 37, and Pigot followed him through.

Not too far ahead, Rossi was now looking particularly eager to pass Pagenaud, while up front Castroneves pushed his advantage over Power to 4sec on Lap 39. However, as the leader came up to lap Kanaan and Andretti, that gap started reducing.

Power pitted on Lap 42, switching to scuffed red tires, and Pagenaud, Chilton, Pigot and Hildebrand stopped on the same lap. Dixon and Rossi pitted on Lap 43, Newgarden and Hunter-Reay on Lap 44, and Castroneves on Lap 45. Power, meanwhile, had been laying down his fastest laps of the race, and despite a slick stop by Castroneves' crew, the #12 Penske retook the lead. At the end of Lap 46, Power had a 3.2sec advantage.

Behind, Dixon was 7.8sec from Castroneves and still 3sec up on Newgarden. Hunter-Reay was still holding down fifth, now 4sec clear of Pagenaud, and Chilton, Rossi, Rahal and Montoya completed the Top 10.

Castroneves now started doing a fine job hunting down Power, and ran only 1.5sec behind his teammate by Lap 50, but in the back of his mind, he knew he still had a stint on blacks to come and due to a pit-booth power failure at the previous stop, there was some uncertainty whether the crew had filled the #3 with enough fuel.

Montoya passed black-tired Rossi for ninth, and started looking somewhat rejuvenated, while up front Power eked out his advantage over Castroneves to two seconds.

Now attention turned to Dixon who was closing on Castroneves and was only 5sec away by Lap 56. Like Power, Dixon would be able to take on red tires at his final stop.

However, the likelihood of a Penske 1-2-3 temporarily increased as Newgarden started closing on Dixon, and they pitted together on Lap 62. Unfortunately for Newgarden, Daly’s Foyt car would emerge from the pits between them. Even more unfortunate, Newgarden would be assessed a drive-through penalty for a pitspeed violation. While obeying this, he racked up another one, and Penske’s 1-2-3 dream died there.

Power pitted from the lead on Lap 64 to get his brand new reds, while Castroneves stopped for his blacks on 65. When Rahal stopped on Lap 66, Power retook the lead and had a 5.2sec lead over Castroneves, with Dixon pressing the Brazilian hard for second. The move came on Lap 69, although the Kiwi now faced a 7.8sec hurdle to catch Power.

Hunter-Reay was now only two seconds behind Castroneves and on red tires which were approximately 1.3sec faster over a lap. By lap 70, the yellow Andretti Autosport-Honda was within 1.5sec of the #3 Penske and Pagenaud was only 3.5sec further back. Four laps later Hunter-Reay was through into third and gone.

No, under normal circumstances he wasn’t going to make up the 5sec deficit to Dixon or the 10sec deficit to Power, but it was a victory of sorts for the 2012 champion after a lot of bad luck this season.

Pagenaud was all over Castroneves with ten laps to go, but it had been a slightly tentative race from the Frenchman, who wasn’t happy with his car’s rear-end traction. However, the reigning champion finally made it past the three-time Indy 500 winner on Lap 81 to grab fourth.

Power crossed the finish line 5.28sec ahead of Dixon in a caution-free race, to clinch his 30th victory.

That broke the tie on the all-time win table that Power had shared with teammate Castroneves and Penske legend Rick Mears since last August. It also marked Power's second win on the IMS road course.

Hunter-Reay held on to third, ahead of Pagenaud, Castroneves, and the deeply impressive Rahal and Chilton.

Rossi, Pigot and Montoya completed the top 10, with Newgarden charging back to 11th and claiming fastest lap.

IndyCar 2017 Grand Prix of Indianapolis results

1 australia  Will Power  85  
2 new_zealand  Scott Dixon  85 5.2830
3 united_states  Ryan Hunter-Reay  85 12.0296
4 france  Simon Pagenaud  85 17.0668
5 brazil  Helio Castroneves  85 20.6072
6 united_states  Graham Rahal  85 25.1039
7 united_kingdom  Max Chilton  85 25.7054
8 united_states  Alexander Rossi  85 29.3214
9 united_states  Spencer Pigot  85 36.5878
10 colombia  Juan Pablo Montoya  85 41.8238
11 united_states  Josef Newgarden  85 48.3846
12 japan  Takuma Sato  85 56.2212
13 canada  James Hinchcliffe  85 1'02.6805
14 united_states  J.R. Hildebrand  84 1 lap
15 colombia  Carlos Munoz  84 1 lap
16 united_states  Marco Andretti  84 1 lap
17 united_states  Conor Daly  84 1 lap
18 russia  Mikhail Aleshin  84 1 lap
19 united_arab_emirates  Ed Jones  84 1 lap
20 brazil  Tony Kanaan  83 2 laps
21 united_states  Charlie Kimball  32 53 laps
22 france  Sébastien Bourdais  3 82 laps
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