Strength gives Penske, Chevrolet wins last race of Belle Isle

DETROIT (AP) — Will Power capped the Belle Isle era with a Team Penske win on Sunday, capturing the final Detroit Grand Prix at the island park to reclaim the IndyCar points lead.

Alexander Rossi’s holding power in the closing laps – extended Rossi’s losing streak to nearly three years – for his first win of the season. The three Team Penske drivers have won through seven IndyCar races this season.

The win for the Australian was a redemption from last year when Power controlled the first race of the Belle Isle doubleheader. Late caution brings a red flag and the Power car cannot start to finish.

This year’s Belle Isle Final is just one IndyCar race as the event will return to its original downtown street track layout in 2023.

The win was a celebration for Chevrolet, the race sponsor, and its headquarters towered over the Belle Isle grounds. This gave Chevrolet its 100th win since returning to IndyCar competition in 2012.

And it was, of course, a celebration for team owner Roger Penske, longtime Detroit resident and race promoter. For Power, the 41st win of his career moved him within one of Michael Andretti for fourth place.

“It was a very, very good performance mentally for me,” said Power. “I’m always judging my performances and I really don’t leave anything on the table and I’m right in the sweet spot in that zone. That’s how I can pump up a quick spin. ”

Rossi, who this week confirmed he is moving to Arrow McLaren SP next season, used a three-step strategy to bounce back from starting in 11th place and race through the pitch to compete for victory. But Power, who started from 16th, had control of the race and Rossi could only try to close the gap.

Although Rossi came close to finishing when the two drivers faced traffic, Power beat him to the finish by 1.0027 seconds. Power won for the third time in Detroit.

“I think one more lap will be very interesting,” said Rossi. “We ended up just executing our potential.”

Scott Dixon was third for Chip Ganassi Racing and was followed by pole-sitter Josef Newgarden of Penske.

McLaren’s Pato O’Ward was fifth, reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou of Ganassi was sixth and was followed by team-mate Marcus Ericsson, winner of last week’s Indianapolis 500.

KIRKWOOD CRASH

Kyle Kirkwood was looking for a big weekend double duty in Detroit and was on pace to achieve it—he was fastest in the first IndyCar practice—until he injured his right hand in a crash Saturday morning.

Despite the injury, Kirkwood was part of the IMSA GTD sports car that won the entry for Vasser Sullivan Racing in the Saturday afternoon race. But there was no power steering in the IndyCar and AJ Foyt Racing had to make some changes to get the rookies to handle the car.

Kirkwood managed it Sunday until he lost control of his car on cold tires to end his weekend early.

“It’s very disappointing,” Kirkwood said. “It’s all up to me, just a big mistake on the cold tires.”

Kirkwood was announced this week as Alexander Rossi’s replacement for next season at Andretti Autosport.

RAHAL’S MISTAKE

An uninspiring start to the season was made worse for Graham Rahal when a driver error saw him crash out of Detroit just two laps into the race. Rahal finished last with 26 drivers and would have finished 14th in the Indianapolis 500 last week.

He said he hit rock bottom at the second corner in what Rahal described as an “unusual error.”

“Had a big moment and hit the wall,” said Rahal. “This is a low point for us as a team and for me to make mistakes like that doesn’t help. Need to press the reset button. ”

Rahal Letterman Lanigan was 14th to rookie Christian Lundgaard and 15th to Jack Harvey.

NEXT

IndyCar races Sunday at Road America in Wisconsin. Palou won the race a year ago, and was the site of Rossi’s last victory of 2019.

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