Will Power proved once again why he is the master of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, winning the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix for his fifth win on the circuit and fortieth victory in the NTT IndyCar Series.
After strategy put him out front, Power survived two late restarts from Romain Grosjean and Colton Herta to take the win, Roger Penske‘s first at IMS since purchasing the facility in 2020. Behind him, Grosjean finished in a less disappointing second place than his last here in May, with Herta finishing third.
Patricio O’Ward led the field to green and dominated the opening stint on the alternate red-wall tyres, one of two drivers starting in the top ten on the reds, gaining a gap of about ten seconds. Scott Dixon was the first to hit pit lane and go off-strategy on lap nine, switching to the red tyres from blacks, and others began to make their pit stops a few laps later.
Power came in on lap 13 to switch to the reds while O’Ward stayed out until lap 16 for his mandatory black tyre stint. On faster tyres, Power was able to disintegrate the gap to O’Ward and make his pass for the lead in turn 12 on lap 20. O’Ward also fell behind Herta and Grosjean as he got his tyres up to temperature and fell to fourth place.
Power cruised in the lead during the second stint, which was highlighted by an electric battle for fifth place. Alexander Rossi was tasked with defending his position from Jack Harvey, Alex Palou and a hard-charging Graham Rahal. Rossi successfully defended from every Harvey challenge, but that soon opened the door for Palou who took sixth on lap 33 and fifth the very next lap going into turn seven.
Power pit from the lead on lap 37 for another set of red tyres, and easily came out ahead of Herta as the field made their second pit stops with a seven second gap. The top five began to close together late in the stint, as old tyres and dirty air kicked up by James Hinchcliffe saw the gap to Herta close to around five seconds by lap 55. As Herta closed to Power, Grosjean was closing to Herta, for second, with O’Ward and Palou closing on him!
The battle was interrupted by final pit stops for the leaders at lap 61, as Power moved to a set of lightly-used red tyres to the end. Everyone else in the top five other than Herta came in the same lap, while the Andretti Autosport driver pit one lap later. Even after the pit stops, Power was still stuck behind Hinchcliffe’s dirty air and the gap closed to two seconds, until the first caution of the race was thrown on lap 68.
At the exit of the chicane turns four and five, Palou slowed to a stop with a sudden mechanical failure, relinquishing fourth place back to O’Ward. After an incredibly strong run that saw the Spaniard tear through the field, his championship lead took a major hit as he finished twenty-seventh.
Power led the field to green again at lap 71, speeding away to build up his lead once again. Behind him, Grosjean made a spectacular late-braking move on the outside of Herta in turn one, showing the strength of his fresh red tyres against Herta’s scuffed set. Grosjean then set his sights on Power before another caution flag came out on lap 77.
The winner of the GMR Grand Prix in May Rinus Veekay had a day to forget sliding down the field, but it went from bad to worse as he was spun in turn seven by Scott McLaughlin. Not having the best day himself, McLaughlin was penalized for avoidable contact and sent to the back of the field for the restart.
Power got off to an early launch for the restart with six laps to go, aided with 74 seconds of push to pass boost that Grosjean was out of. He cruised to his first win of the season with Grosjean fending off Herta who finished second and third respectively.
After a fantastic, side-by-side duel on the first restart, Rossi bested O’Ward to take fourth while the young Mexican finished fifth. With Palou’s retirement and Dixon being trapped down the field finishing seventeenth, he retakes second in the championship and closes the gap to Palou significantly.
Harvey found himself in the middle of some fantastic on-track battles throughout the day, and came home sixth for Meyer Shank Racing. After a string of poor races, this result will surely boost the Brit’s confidence.
After a poor qualifying, Rahal charged through the field early in the race and found himself in the top ten early. Fast all day, he finished as the top Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car in the field.
With two laps to go, Josef Newgarden made contact with Takuma Sato in turn one, pushing the Japanese driver wide and pushing his way through to eighth place followed closely by Marcus Ericsson in ninth. Sato kept his car straight, and came home to round out the top ten.
Formula 2 regular and IndyCar rookie Christian Lundgaard led a few laps at the beginning of the race as pit stops were taking place, but fell from his fourth place starting position to finish twelfth. Regardless, the Dane impressed many and finishing in the top half of the field is a successful debut by every stretch of the imagination.
Fellow debutants Top Gun Racing did not have the day they had hoped for, as RC Enerson was forced to retire early with on lap 13 with mechanical issues.
Rookie Jimmie Johnson finished the race nineteenth in his return to the IMS road course, matching his career-best finish from the first race of the season at Barber Motorsports Park.
The IndyCar Series returns next weekend to the oval at World Wide Technology Raceway on 21 August for a Saturday night shootout under the lights.
Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix Official Results
|1||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||01:49:38.081|
|2||51||Romain Grosjean (R)||FRA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||+ 1.114 sec.|
|3||26||Colton Herta||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 2.349 sec.|
|4||27||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 3.438 sec.|
|5||5||Pato O’Ward||MEX||Arrow McLaren SP||+ 4.105 sec.|
|6||60||Jack Harvey||GBR||Meyer Shank Racing||+ 5.323 sec.|
|7||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 5.855 sec.|
|8||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||+ 6.249 sec.|
|9||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 7.008 sec.|
|10||30||Takuma Sato||JPN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 7.944 sec.|
|11||20||Conor Daly||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+ 9.359 sec.|
|12||45||Christian Lundgaard (R)||DEN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 9.837 sec.|
|13||7||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Arrow McLaren SP||+ 10.623 sec.|
|14||18||Ed Jones||UAE||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan||+ 12.119 sec.|
|15||14||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||+ 12.578 sec.|
|16||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||+ 16.416 sec.|
|17||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 17.192 sec.|
|18||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 17.327 sec.|
|19||48||Jimmie Johnson (R)||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 18.158 sec.|
|20||59||Max Chilton||GBR||Carlin||+ 18.748 sec.|
|21||06||Helio Castroneves||BRA||Meyer Shank Racing||+ 19.545 sec.|
|22||29||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||+ 20.845 sec.|
|23||3||Scott McLaughlin (R)||NZL||Team Penske||+ 21.011 sec.|
|24||21||Rinus VeeKay||NED||Ed Carpenter Racing||+ 22.494 sec.|
|25||52||Cody Ware (R)||USA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||+ 2 laps|
|26||4||Dalton Kellett||CAN||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||+ 4 laps|
|27||10||Alex Palou||ESP||Chip Ganassi Racing||Mechanical|
|28||75||RC Enerson||USA||Top Gun Racing||Mechanical|