Power holds off charging Kanaan to win in Road America
Will Power had push-to-pass boosts to spare to hold off an aggressive drive from Tony Kanaan and clinch victory on Indy car racing’s return to Elkhart Lake’s picture-perfect venue.
From the start, Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Power maintained the lead from pole position over the Chip Ganassi Racing-Chevrolets of Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan and championship leader Simon Pagenaud.
Behind them, Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda) and Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Ryan Hunter-Reay demoted Helio Castroneves to seventh, chased by Carlos Munoz (Andretti), Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly and Ganassi’s Charlie Kimball who all got past seventh-place starter Max Chilton.
From the middle of the pack, Bourdais cruised his KVSH Racing-Chevy slowly into the pits with rear wing damage, possibly the result of being clipped by Kimball on the run down to Turn 5.
It took just two laps for Castroneves to repass Hunter-Reay for sixth around the outside of Turn 5, and RHR would also lose sixth to a charging Daly on Lap 9. But in between these moves, there was an even more dramatic turn of events – Dixon pulled off with engine failure on lap 7.
That left Power with a 3.5sec lead over Kanaan, which he coaxed out to 6sec by the first round of pitstops. By the time everyone re-emerged from pitlane, Power was five seconds ahead of Rahal who had gone a lap longer than his rivals to jump Kanaan. TK swiftly addressed that issue, bravely going wheel to wheel with Rahal through Turn 12, and from that moment, Rahal dropped away from the tail of the Ganassi car and instead spent the stint working hard to hold off Pagenaud.
Kanaan next stopped on lap 25, with Power, Rahal and Pagenaud following suit a lap later. Power’s stop was slightly long, but he still comfortably held onto the lead. Rahal, meanwhile, looked like he was going to beat Kanaan, and as he emerged from the pits, he moved sharp left across the track to block the Brazilian whose tires had one lap of temperature in them.
Initially it looked like the tactic had worked, Kanaan too smart to dive down the inside at Turn 1.… but again Rahal had to concede defeat to the Ganassi #10 further around the lap.
Rahal and Pagenaud were on reds now, and the championship leader appeared to have nursed them to perfection, for in the second half of that that third stint, he was on a serious charge. On lap 34, Pagenaud dived down the inside of Rahal at Turn 5 to grab 3rd, and just a lap later he replicated the move on Kanaan.
That put the #22 Penske in second, 6.5sec behind Power but Pagenaud kept charging, turning his fastest laps of the race to reduce the deficit to 4.8sec by the time the #12 pitted on lap 38, followed in by Kanaan, Castroneves, Daly and Newgarden.
Pagenaud's flying laps ended when he stopped at the end of lap 39 – as did Rahal – but still Power comfortably held the lead.
And then suddenly gaps didn’t matter: the race’s only full course caution flew on lap 40 as Daly’s heroic drive ended in a tire wall. The Coyne driver had been trying to hold off a recharged Hunter-Reay by taking the inside line into the brake zone for Turn 1, but the car appeared to suffer suspension failure, pattering hard over the bumps and skating straight on, through the sand trap.
A long and slightly farcical retrieval procedure meant the field circulated behind the Corvette pace car for four laps, in the order - Power, Pagenaud, Kanaan, Rahal, Castroneves, Kimball, Hunter-Reay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Josef Newgarden, Munoz, Spencer Pigot, Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti, Mikhail Aleshin and Alexander Rossi.
With a five-lap shootout ahead, and nobody with any fuel worries, Power cut loose on the restart leaving Pagenaud behind, while Rahal looked down the inside of Kanaan going into Turn 1 but TK closed the door and instead focused on the Penske ahead. The Ganassi car passed Pagenaud at Turn 12, and that maneuver signaled the start of a freefall down the order for the Frenchman, who was encountering a power-sapping engine issue.
Rahal, Castroneves, Hunter-Reay and Kimball all passed the struggling #22, and Hunter-Reay made a typically brave move down the inside of Castroneves into Turn 5.
Kanaan closed in on Power but the Penske driver had Push-to-Pass boosts to spare, and hit the button along the straights to keep the Ganassi driver at arm’s length, eventually crossing the line 0.75 ahead, with Rahal a further 5sec adrift. Hunter-Reay, Castroneves and Kimball filled out the remaining spots in the top six.
Kimball had been hassling Castroneves for fifth in those frantic final laps, and the Brazilian veteran was ordered by Race Control to relinquish a position for blocking into Turn 5. But it became a moot point because of the charging Hunter-Reay getting himself between them.
A major wheel-banging battle between Newgarden and Montoya that went on for two laps was resolved in the Penske driver’s favor, while Pigot followed his Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet in ninth ahead of an aggressive Carlos Munoz.
Pagenaud fell all the way to 13th at the checkered flag, passed by Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti in the final turns.
James Hinchcliffe, who had spun on the opening lap, finished 14th while Rossi needed a long stop for a new front wing, ending his chances of a top-10 finish.
Special mention must also be made of Chilton, who after running out of fuel at the end of a stint and requiring a push up pitlane by his pitcrew, went out and set fastest lap of the race in the closing stages.
|1||12||Will Power||Penske (C)||1:39:10.3044|
|2||10||Tony Kanaan||Ganassi (C)||0.7429|
|3||15||Graham Rahal||Rahal (H)||5.9608|
|4||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti (H)||9.3597|
|5||3||Helio Castroneves||Penske (C)||10.5340|
|6||83||Charlie Kimball||Ganassi (C)||10.9966|
|7||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Penske (C)||12.6191|
|8||21||Josef Newgarden||Carpenter (C)||13.8835|
|9||20||Spencer Pigot||Carpenter (C)||15.7290|
|10||26||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti (H)||17.1132|
|11||41||Jack Hawksworth||Foyt (H)||18.7152|
|12||27||Marco Andretti||Andretti (H)||19.9030|
|13||22||Simon Pagenaud||Penske (C)||21.1530|
|14||5||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt (H)||22.1333|
|15||98||Alexander Rossi||Andretti-Herta (H)||22.5908|
|16||7||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt (H)||23.5531|
|17||14||Takuma Sato||Foyt (H)||35.3665|
|18||11||Sébastien Bourdais||KVSH (C)||1 Tour|
|19||19||Gabby Chaves||Coyne (H)||1 Tour|
|20||8||Max Chilton||Ganassi (C)||2 Tours|
|21||18||Conor Daly||Coyne (H)||11 Tours|
|22||9||Scott Dixon||Ganassi (C)||44 Tours|
(C) = Chevrolet, (H) = Honda
"What They're Saying" from qualifying at Road America
"What They're Saying" from KOHLER Grand Prix
Power holds off charging Kanaan to win in Road America
- Formula 1