Will Power has moved one step closer to claiming that elusive maiden IndyCar Series title with a dominant drive to victory in Sunday’s Wisconsin 250 race at the Milwaukee Mile oval.
The Australian led all but 21 of the race’s 250 laps to secure his first ever win on a short-track oval – a discipline that he’s previously struggled in – and beat home teammate Juan Pablo Montoya by less than three seconds. Series veteran Tony Kanaan rounded out the podium for Chip Ganassi Racing.
With Power’s closest championship rival, Hélio Castroneves, finishing a lapped eleventh, Power now moves into a 35-point championship lead ahead of the final two races of the season, kicking off on this very coming weekend at Sonoma Raceway before the double-point finale at Fontana. Both are venues where Power will arrive as the defending race winner.
Oval racing is a facet that Power has worked enormously hard to improve upon, and the Australian was the class of the field in a race that was almost devoid of Safety Car interruptions.
“I’ve worked hard on these (ovals) the last few years. I just wanted to win on a short oval,” he said, relieved, afterwards. “I was just the perfect day. I led a lot of laps. I was a bit iffy coming into the box (pit bay) a couple of times.”
Power’s drive to victory wasn’t quite the cakewalk that the race statistics would suggest. He was threatened early on by Kanaan, and the Brazilian kept the pressure up to leapfrog into the lead by staying out longer on his second fuel and tyre stint.
It took until the next cycle through the pits before Power managed to get back in front, while Kanaan slipped down to third behind Montoya. The Colombian was hunting down Power, but the three-time championship runner-up kept his cool in the final laps to claim victory.
Scott Dixon finished fourth courtesy of an aggressive strategy that helped him gain seven places from his starting position. He finished ahead of Josef Newgarden, who was forced to relinquish third place in the closing laps when he was forced into the pits for a splash-and-dash pit stop.
Ryan Briscoe finished sixth in the third Chip Ganassi entry, while the SPH Motorsports pair of Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin both climbed through the field to finish seventh and eighth ahead of Ed Carpenter and Jack Hawksworth.
Championship contender Ryan Hunter-Reay saw his chances of a second title narrow when he was forced to retire with a suspension failure. His Andretti Autosport teammate Carlos Muñoz was the race’s only other retiree; he was out just past mid-distance after glancing the wall at Turn 4.
2014 IndyCar Series Wisconsin 250 – Race Result (250 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:44:49.4611|
|2.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske Chevrolet||+ 2.7979|
|3.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||+ 7.2356|
|4.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||+ 18.8058|
|5.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda||+ 22.4998|
|6.||Ryan Briscoe||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||+ 23.4954|
|7.||Simon Pagenaud||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||+ 24.0347|
|8.||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||– 1 lap|
|9.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet||– 1 lap|
|10.||Jack Hawksworth||Bryan Herta Autosport Honda||– 1 lap|
|11.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske Chevrolet||– 1 lap|
|12.||Sébastien Bourdais||KV Racing Technology Honda||– 1 lap|
|13.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport Honda||– 1 lap|
|14.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda||– 1 lap|
|15.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda||– 2 laps|
|16.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||– 2 laps|
|17.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||– 2 laps|
|18.||Sebastián Saavedra||KV Racing Technology / AFS Racing Honda||– 4 laps|
|19.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport Honda||– 6 laps|
|20.||Carlos Huertas||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||– 7 laps|
|DNF.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport Honda||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport Honda||Contact|
Image via Motorsport.com