Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series Champion Will Power has put on a dominant display winning the second annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the 2.439 mile, 14-turned Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course to become the fifth different winner out of five different races this season.
The Australian driver just had enough fuel in the tank to keep a charging Graham Rahal in the Rahal Letterman-Lanigan Racing Honda at bay by 1.5 seconds. Power gave Team Penske its first road course victory at the circuit and the powerhouse outfit is looking the firm favourite for this year’s Indianapolis 500, which takes place later this month at the venue’s superspeedway.
Power, who broke the track record and won the Verizon P1 Award for the second time this season, led the race for 65 of the 82-lap race. This was Power’s 25th victory and put him level with Gordon Johncock in 15th on the all time winners’ list.
The race began with a first corner collision when Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, who started alongside Power on the front row, was tagged into a spin by Team Penske’s Hélio Castroneves.
This caused another chain reaction collision further back with contact between Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s James Hinchcliffe and Barber winner Josef Newgarden, who compounded his misery by stalling off the line and losing a number of places, and that sent several cars to travel through the grass as they tried to avoid being part of the carnage. Justin Wilson and Jack Hawksworth were also involved in the first corner collision chaos.
Rahal benefitted the most of the whole situation in the space of a couple of corners he jumped from 17th to fifth, although he admitted later that he didn’t have the outright pace he needed to catch Power in the closing laps.
“You have four sessions during the month that you want to be P1 in,” Power said after celebrating his first win of the season.
“One is qualifying for the GP, winning the GP, qualifying for the (Indy) 500 and winning the 500. It’s possible obviously, that’s got to be the goal this month. My focus nowadays is so much more on the 500 more than it ever was now that I’ve won a championship. But you can imagine just winning the GP and the 500 it would be unbelievable.
“I’m halfway there,” he continued. “The Indy 500 is on my mind and I’m very determined to get it done. In this race, the first lap was fast as the last lap. Honestly, I think it was staying ahead at the start and restart and then it was managing that traffic and just the pit sequence.
“My crew did an awesome job and saved enough fuel there at the end with Graham coming hard. I’m really happy to win here at this awesome facility. I just want to get one two weeks from now.”
Juan Pablo Montoya pushed as hard as he could to catch Rahal for a while before backing off in the final stint to conserve fuel, and spent the closing laps making sure that he kept ahead of Sébastien Bourdais.
Traffic was a huge issue for the leading pack with cars about to be lapped ignoring blue flags trying to keep on the lead lap. Newgarden – a victim of the opening lap fracas – was particularly unhelpful in his attempts to avoid going a lap down, and copped criticism from a number of drivers after the race.
Power held his ground to keep a highly motivated Rahal behind to claim his first victory of the season; Montoya rounded out the podium to finish third, and Bourdais was fourth.
Castroneves went unpunished for triggering the first lap crash and made an excellent recovery to finish sixth behind Charlie Kimball, while Dixon, who was further delayed after the crash by the need for a new rear wing, fought back to tenth.
Defending race winner Simon Pagenaud was running in fifth behind Montoya and Bourdais before he was forced to retire with a mechanical problem. Justin Wilson was also followed suit and retired with a mechanical issue.
Other than the first corner chaos it was a dull race leading up to the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
|2015 IndyCar Series Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Final Classification|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||82||1:42:42.094|
|2.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||82||+ 1.502|
|3.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske||82||+ 7.116|
|4.||Sébastien Bourdais||KVSH Racing||82||+ 7.734|
|5.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||82||+ 25.118|
|6.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||82||+ 31.735|
|7.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing||82||+ 32.319|
|8.||Stefano Coletti||KV Racing Technology||82||+ 35.385|
|9.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Racing||82||+ 40.827|
|10.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||82||+ 47.472|
|11.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||82||+ 42.094|
|12.||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||82||+ 49.546|
|13.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport||82||+ 54.237|
|14.||Luca Filippi||CFH Racing||82||+ 54.871|
|15.||Gabby Chaves||Bryan Herta Autosport||82||+ 1:01.309|
|16.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||82||+ 1:07.245|
|17.||Sebastián Saavedra||Chip Ganassi Racing||82||+ 1:09.208|
|18.||James Jakes||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||81||+ 1 lap|
|19.||Carlos Huertas||Dale Coyne Racing||81||+ 1 lap|
|20.||Josef Newgarden||CFH Racing||81||+ 1 lap|
|21.||J.R. Hildebrand||CFH Racing||81||+ 1 lap|
|22.||Franceso Dracone||Dale Coyne Racing||80||+ 2 laps|
|23.||Jack Hawksworth||A.J. Foyt Racing||69||+ 13 laps|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Justin Wilson||Andretti Autosport||68||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||57||Mechanical|
Montoya holds a 5 point lead in the Drivers Championship on 171 points ahead of teammate Power (166) and also teammate Castroneves (161) who is a further 5 points behind the series champion. Long Beach winner Dixon sits fourth on 144 points along with Rahal, who finished runner up for the second consecutive race rounding out the top five also on 144 points.
Teams will be back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow for practice on the 2.5-mile oval to prepare for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. Qualifying for the 200-lap, 500 mile race will occur on May 16-17.
Images via IndyCar Series
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