Will Power was fast enough for a track record during qualifying, though it didn’t count because of a penalty. It was another tough break for a driver who hadn’t won in over a year – but it was also a sign that Power was still a threat.
Hours after that qualifying mishap Sunday, Power raced to his first IndyCar victory of the season, holding off points leader Simon Pagenaud by 0.92 seconds at Detroit’s Belle Isle on Sunday. It was the 26th victory of Power’s career and the first since the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May 2015.
“It’s been a weekend where we were knocking on the door,” Power said. “Very satisfying. It’s been a tough season I would say, but I’ve kind of kept the faith.”
Power would have set a track record in qualifying, but the Australian was penalized for interference and had his top two laps taken away. Pagenaud won the pole, while Power started eighth.
The key move came with about 18 laps remaining, shortly after a restart. Power passed Pagenaud to take over fifth place – and the top four drivers still had to pit again.
“I knew on that restart, I had to get Simon. It was my best chance,” Power said. “But he’s the championship leader and also my teammate, so I had to make it a very clean move so I went to the outside. I wouldn’t have done it to go up the inside – too much risk of taking him out.”
After moving ahead of Pagenaud, Power was in good position to win, and he took over the lead in his No. 12 Chevrolet on the 61st of 70 laps on the 2.35-mile street course.
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third, and Josef Newgarden was fourth.
Sebastien Bourdais, who won the weekend’s first IndyCar race at Belle Isle on Saturday, finished eighth. Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi was 12th.
Power and Pagenaud gave team owner Roger Penske a 1-2 finish Sunday, although teammate Juan Pablo Montoya went into the wall around the race’s halfway point and finished 20th.
Helio Castroneves, another Penske driver, was at the front with Pagenaud before the last of the day’s three caution periods. Pagenaud went into the pit on lap 49 and Castroneves stayed out a bit longer. That turned out to be a tough break for Castroneves when the caution flag came. He had to pit during the caution period, lost track position and finished 14th.
“It was a great day for Team Penske, one-two. Helio was really strong. I feel really bad for him,” Pagenaud said. “He had a good race going. He was really strong. He got caught up by that last yellow.”
Power had only two top-five finishes in the first seven races this season. He had a shifting issue Saturday and ended up 20th, but the win Sunday could help turn his season around.
“Will was really good and aggressive. He made a good pass on us,” Pagenaud said. “I thought maybe with the long run I would get back to him, which we did at the end, but it wasn’t enough. Good job to him. It’s good to see him back in Victory Lane.”
Australian driver Matt Mingay was still in serious but stable condition after having surgery for facial injuries.
Mingay crashed during a trucks race at Belle Isle on Saturday. His family said he had surgery Saturday night, according to a statement from the Stadium Super Truck Series. Mingay remained at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Mingay’s truck overturned during the third lap of the race, which was eventually suspended after a long delay. There was another SST race Sunday, and afterward, driver Paul Morris – another Australian – provided more details on Mingay’s condition.
“He’s lost a fair bit of his lower face, jaw and all his bottom teeth, but he has no permanent injuries,” Morris said. “His brain’s intact, his spine’s intact, so he’s got a long road ahead of him, hopefully we’ll get him out of here in the next couple of weeks, get him stabilized and get back to Australia and get his head rebuilt, and he’ll be brand new.”
The SST circuit features high-horsepower trucks designed to take flight off jumps. Races feature ramps set up throughout the course, and trucks can be launched 20 feet in the air, covering more than 150 feet. As in all types of auto racing, the risks are part of the sport.
“It’s something that we accept even before we get in the truck,” said Australian Matt Brabham, who won Sunday’s race as well as Friday’s.
“If something happened to me, I wouldn’t want the racing to stop, and I wouldn’t want anyone to stop just for me. I take full responsibility, take it in, it’s what I want to do. This is my life.”
Rain postpones races
Rain has postponed the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, until Monday.
NHRA officials also moved the final elimination rounds of the New England Nationals to Monday at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, because of rain.
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