Story By: CURT CAVIN / INDYCAR – LONG POND, PA – Team Penske driver Will Power earned his first NTT IndyCar Series victory of the season, extending his streak of consecutive seasons with at least one victory to 13.
This victory came in Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, the 2.5-mile track where he won for the third time in four years. Power’s streak is second only to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who has won NTT IndyCar Series races in 15 consecutive seasons.
Driving the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, Power was leading this race at Lap 128 (of 200) when the inclement weather arrived. Power had taken the lead from Dixon on Lap 115 and pushed the advantage to 6.1 seconds before the caution waved for lightning in the area.
The victory gave Power sole possession of seventh place in career victories with 36, breaking a tie with the legendary Bobby Unser. The Australian said this win came amid “the toughest season of my career.”
“Absolutely over the moon to finally win a race this season,” he said. “The guys working on the car, they’ve worked their (tails) off this year – just had bad runs. Yeah, (it’s) awesome, awesome – great feeling.”
Dixon finished second in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda, giving him finishes of second, second, first and second over the past month. The strong run, coupled with the fifth-place finish of Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, tightened the championship chase, which has four drivers within 52 points heading to the final three races.
Newgarden started the race from the pole in the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet after Saturday’s qualifying session was rained out. He expanded his series lead to 35 points as his closest challenger, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, was collected in a first-lap, multi-car accident in Turn 2.
The cars of Rossi, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay came together approaching the corner, and their contact collected James Hinchcliffe of Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and series rookie Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing. There was a 45-minute red flag for cleanup, and all drivers were cleared of injuries. Of the group, only Rosenqvist was transported via ground to a local hospital for further evaluation. All tests were negative, and he was released late Sunday afternoon.
Rossi’s crew repaired the No. 27 MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, but he was unable to gain any positions. He finished 18th, losing 19 points to Newgarden.
“Unfortunately, the weather came and the race was called one lap before we could gain another spot,” Rossi said. “We have a couple days to rebound and go for race wins now – that’s all that matters.”
Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske jumped from third to first on the opening lap and led a race-high 64 laps, but he settled for a third-place finish in the No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet. Pagenaud is 40 points out of the series lead, Dixon is 52.
“It’s good to be in it,” said Pagenaud, who like Dixon (five times) and Newgarden is a former NTT IndyCar Series champion. “There’s three races to go, all the chances in the world for our team. We’re going to keep pushing; that’s what we’ve been doing. Just keep pushing, doing what we do, try to win races. That’s going to be the name of the game until the end. I love it.”
Series rookie Santino Ferrucci tied his career-best with a fourth-place finish in the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda.
The NTT IndyCar Series gets back to racing this week with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. NTT P1 Award qualifying will be held Friday at 6:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (XM 209, Sirius 217, Internet/App 970). The 248-lap race is Saturday with NBCSN’s coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 8:45 p.m., with the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network available on all affiliates plus XM 209, Sirius 98 and Internet/App 970.