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Power: Palou’s pace, fuel mileage “blew my mind”

Will Power, who finished runner-up at IndyCar’s season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park, admits that winner Alex Palou’s combination of speed and fuel mileage initially convinced him he was on a different pitstop strategy.

The Team Penske-Chevrolet ace finished just 0.4sec adrift of Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s newest winner, but in the first stint Palou had been able to keep pace with the three-stopping leaders, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi – something that neither Power nor the pursuing Scott Dixon (Ganassi) were quite able to do.

Once O’Ward and Rossi made their first stops, Palou was able to pull more than six seconds on Power before making his first of only two stops, so although Power went two laps longer, he emerged still behind the Ganassi car. At the second stop, Power went one lap longer than Palou and Dixon, but again emerged between them, albeit closer.

Into the closing laps, the two veterans hunted down the series sophomore but weren’t given free rein to use their push to pass boost until the dying laps because they were marginal on fuel, so couldn’t take full advantage of Palou getting held up in traffic.

Power told NBC: “I made that one little mistake at Turn 9 but with the amount of push to pass I had left it could have been pretty good. I did have to save some fuel, and had enough to use push to pass for the last two laps.

“But it just blew my mind how fast Alex was in that first stint. I had absolutely nothing for him; he just pulled away, so I figured he was doing a three-stop race, because I was getting the best lap time I could for the fuel number [target].

“But I’m super happy to get the Verizon 5G car on the podium. We’ve had a pretty bad start to the season for the last four years, so it’s awesome to get a really good start to the season.

“I said to the guys, ‘If we do this week in, week out – solid races with no mistakes – I absolutely promise you we will have a great chance to win the championship.’”

Power has 39 wins and 62 poles to his name, but is still seeking a second IndyCar championship to add to his 2014 title.

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