Will Power dominated from lights to flag at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis but a late shortage on fuel almost saw Graham Rahal take full advantage and claim his first Verizon IndyCar Series win of the season.
Indeed Rahal managed to get himself in a position to challenge for the win at the death thanks to an incident on the very first corner of the very first lap.
Scott Dixon was tagged into a spin by Helio Castroneves, which then caused a number of cars further back to bang into each other and run wide, it meant Rahal moved from 17th to 5th.
Dixon would eventually finish 10th and Castroneves would recover to a very respectable sixth place considering what had happened.
Thankfully the caution was out for only two laps and after that the field could enjoy just under 80 laps of green flag running – a rarity in IndyCar these days, but that through up a number of fuel strategy options which helped Rahal – in the Steak n’ Shake Honda – stay within touching distance.
Rahal stayed out a lap longer than Power and that helped him close the gap to almost a second of the Team Penske driver, but thanks to some efficient fuel saving and handy positioning of back markers, Power crossed the line just over two seconds ahead.
In third place, and solidly racking up the points, was Juan Pablo Montoya who was followed in swiftly by Sebastien Bourdais.
“I’m halfway there. The Indy 500 is on my mind and I’m very determined to get it done,” said Power, who seeks to become the first driver to win on the road course and 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. “In this race, the first lap was as fast as the last lap. Honestly, I think it was staying ahead at the start and the 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.”
For Rahal, his form – two second places in a row – couldn’t come at a better time, the challenge now is to make sure he can go one better in the biggest race of the year.
He said: “It was a tough day, a physical day. A couple of hiccups: Before the last stop I decided to stay out an extra lap, it was my call and it was a bad one because I caught (Scott) Dixon and Gabby Chaves coming out of the pits. That cost us a couple seconds. So we had to make up that time on track and it was tough.
“This team has really turned a corner, but those Penske guys are no slouches. It’s pretty hard to beat them. I’m very confident in myself and very confident in my team. That’s the biggest thing. I have all of the confidence in the world that Honda’s going to keep working hard and we’re going to get better aero kits and power and we’ll be able to challenge these guys even more.”