Will Power has accomplished a stunning feat, taking home victory at the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and becoming the first Australian to do so in its rich history.
The 33-car field was led by three-time pole-sitter Ed Carpenter and from the get-go, his #20 Chevrolet would set sail, leading the first thirty laps.
The first caution surfaced at an impressive Lap 48 when Australia’s James Davison – brother of Supercars driver Will Davison – in his struggling A. J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet got in the way and collided with defending race winner Takuma Sato.
2017 IndyCar Rookie of the Year, Ed Jones, would also bow out of his second Indy 500 early with a hard crash in Turn 2. Jones climbed out from his damaged Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and took a trip to the medical centre after complaining of head and neck pain due to his heavy impact with the wall at over 320 km/h.
When the race restarted, the duel was on between Carpenter and Tony Kanaan as they traded the lead every handful of laps, however that battle would pause when Danica Patrick ended her farewell race with a crash at Turn 2 again.
Kanaan once again got the better of Carpenter on the restart, but a puncture forced him to pit lane which helped Power gain the lead for the first time.
American Zach Veach had a spectacular pit stop midway through the race after a refuelling error set his already bright orange Andretti Autosport car alight while travelling down pit road.
The race became disjointed in the final eighty laps with many more one-car accidents bringing out the caution flag. The influx of single car incidents stemmed from the updated Dallara DW12 aero kit, which removed key downforce components and greatly reduced mid-corner grip levels compared to previous years.
On Lap 139 Frenchman Sébastian Bourdais got sideways between Turns 3 and 4 and seven laps later three-time Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves got loose into the final corner, spinning out of control out and coming to a rest in the entry of pit road.
On Lap 154 Sage Karam brought out the final yellow, also losing the rear of his car out of Turn Four. He dramatically dislodged his tyre upon impact with the wall, which was sent flying across the track into the inside barrier before coming to a stop before the brick finish line.
After the Karam accident, Power’s potential race-winning strategy looked to be in jeopardy when many cars towards the back of the train including Oriol Servià and Stefan Wilson would pit and top up on fuel hoping to make it to the end.
The pair and others caught some amazing luck when Kanaan spun with eleven laps to go allowing Servia and Wilson to stretch their fuel and try and pull off a major upset.
When the race restarted with eight laps to go Power pushed past Jack Harvey to sit behind Servià and Wilson holding the top two spots. Neither driver, however, had enough fuel to make it to the end and with four laps to go both dived into the pits, handing the lead back to Toowoomba-born Will Power.
Power became the first Australian to be victorious at the Indianapolis 500, earning the 34th win of his IndyCar career after taking victory around the road course event earlier in May.
Pole sitter Ed Carpenter came second while New Zealand’s Scott Dixon rounded out the top three.
Image via LAT