Will Power surges to Pocono win
Long Pond, Pa. — Will Power chalked up his latest milestone to experience. There’s nothing like it with a championship on the line.
Power continued his stirring late-season run on Monday, holding pole-sitter Mikhail Aleshin at bay after a final restart, and won the rain-delayed IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway.
It was the fourth win in six races for Power, the 29th of his career, and cut 38 points off the lead in the standings held by Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud. Pagenaud finished 18th after a late crash and Power trails by 20 with three races remaining in the season.
“It feels normal. It’s not like I’m doing anything special. That’s the funny thing,” said Power, who missed the first race of the season because of concussion symptoms and watched Pagenaud mount a commanding lead in the points with a similar early-season surge. “I’m very seasoned on how races play out, when to take risks and when not to. That’s how I’ve been doing it. Now, I’m feeling good.”
Power’s surge has moved him into a tie in career wins with Rick Mears and Scott Dixon, and also includes second-place finishes at Iowa and Mid-Ohio.
On this day, unlike his early years, the 35-year-old Australian was methodical, slowly working his way forward as the crew made change after change in the pits. He led 55 of 200 laps.
“It’s another example of just hanging out all day, adjusting on the car and getting the car right, and then booming at the end,” said Power, who started eighth. “The older you get, the more you let the race happen.”
Defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third, Josef Newgarden was fourth and Sebastien Bourdais fifth thanks to late-race pit strategy.
A year ago, Hunter-Reay won a crash-filled race at Pocono that took the life of 37-year-old Englishman Justin Wilson. Pocono Raceway painted “JW” on the track at the finish line and Union Jacks flew at half-staff in his honor.
Both Wilson and open-wheel driver Bryan Clauson, who was killed two weeks ago in a crash in Kansas, were remembered in the prerace prayer and with a moment of silence.
Hunter-Reay and Aleshin took turns in the lead for the first two-thirds of the race. The complexion of the race and the points race changed after Pagenaud crashed to bring out a caution.
Hunter-Reay took the lead on the restart, and after zooming through the first turn began to slow with electrical problems and fell a lap down.
Power then regained the lead, and after a debris caution on lap 176, he exited the pits in first place as Hunter-Reay got back on the lead lap with one last chance. He ran out of laps after weaving his way back to third.
Aleshin tried to challenge one final time, but Power pulled away over the final 20 laps.