DETROIT (AP) — Will Power clinched victory at Belle Isle a year ago until a late red flag caused an electrical breakdown that ruined his race.
In his mind, the Detroit Grand Prix owed him.
And when Power sets his mind on something, nothing can hold him back.
Strength charged from 16th to Sunday’s win to cap off the Belle Isle era with a Team Penske win that returned the Australian to the IndyCar points lead.
Power passed teammate and pole-sitter Josef Newgarden on lap 14 and never looked back, leading 55 of 70 laps when he found himself in the “zone.”
“It’s hard to get to that place. I used to go there often when I was young,” the 41-year-old said. “It’s just one of those zones where everything is going really well, you’re 100% in the middle, it’s a flow condition. Hard to explain. But I’ll be in that shape a lot for qualifying, pumping out some pretty ridiculous laps. It was a race for me. In a very nice place.”
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.
Power controlled the first race of the Belle Isle doubleheader a year ago until a late warning caused a red, and then his car couldn’t start to finish. He went from a potential win to a 20th place finish and hasn’t let go in the year since.
This year’s Belle Isle Final is just one IndyCar race. The event will return to its original downtown street course layout in 2023.
Power’s victory 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 Power says he has 26 of those wins — including the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar championship wins.
And it was, of course, a celebration for team owner Roger Penske, longtime Detroit resident and race promoter. Penske’s team grabbed a second win less than 90 minutes later when Joey Logano won the inaugural NASCAR Cup race at St. Louis.
For Power, the 41st win of his career moved him within one of Michael Andretti for fourth place.
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.
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 tyre.”
Kirkwood was announced this week as Rossi’s replacement for next season at Andretti Autosport.
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 an all-time low 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.
IndyCar races Sunday at Road America in Wisconsin. Palou won the race a year ago, and Road America was the scene of Rossi’s last victory of 2019.
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