INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power has yet to win an Indianapolis 500 in 10 tries, but he cemented his place as the master of the road course preliminary to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ greatest race by winning the INDYCAR Grand Prix for the third time on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The victory was as much a study in statistical nuggets as the first victory of the 2018 season for Power. The victory was the 200th in Indy car history for Team Penske, which made its debut in the sport 50 years ago.
Thirty of those wins have been provided by Power, who won for the third time in the INDYCAR Grand Prix. For the fourth consecutive year, the race was won from the pole.
“To do it here at Indianapolis is terrific,” team owner Roger Penske said. “This gives us tremendous momentum going into the 500.”
But this was no parade for Power, who dueled in the middle stretches of the race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile permanent road course with rookie Robert Wickens, and again in the final laps saving fuel and attempting to maintain a slim gap on master fuel miser Scott Dixon.
“I’ve never driven so hard for an entire race. I was 100 percent the entire time,” said Power, who crossed the finish line in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet 2.2443 seconds ahead of Dixon. “I’m exhausted.”
Penske deemed Power’s effort “world class, having to make fuel at the end, staying ahead of Wickens, staying ahead of the best guy in the business, Scott Dixon.”
The finish was a repeat of a year ago when Power placed first and Dixon second. Dixon, in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, collected the 39th runner-up finish of his career (third all time) and the 97th podium finish (fifth all time).
Wickens placed third, with Sebastien Bourdais fourth and Alexander Rossi fifth. A late spin relegated points leader Josef Newgarden to 11th place, but the Team Penske driver still holds an unofficial two-point advantage over Rossi heading into “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
The 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil is set for Sunday, May 27 (11 a.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). Practice on the famed 2.5-mile oval begins Tuesday, with two days of qualifications to set the 33-car field on May 19-20.