Power Wins Rain-Shortened Pocono Contest on Strategy

Will Power captured his first win of 2019 shortly after a high-speed crash took out five drivers, including championship contender Alexander Rossi.

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Will Power owned the lead during this year’s NTT IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway when lightning brought about an early conclusion, making the Australian Team Penske pilot a winner in each of the last 13 seasons.

The No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet assumed the lead when Simon Pagenaud, winner of the last 500-mile race, made his second pit stop of the day on Lap 71. Power enjoyed clear track as the race leader for three green-flag laps before visiting pit lane for his second time and might have returned to the racetrack still in control if not for the timing of Colton Herta’s Turn 2 crash three laps earlier on Lap 74.

Pitting under yellow, Power dropped from the front to seventh. The initial track position loss became an advantage, however, as incoming inclement weather made it appear that the full 200-lap distance would not be covered. Assuming it would be his final stint and later complications with the alternate strategy would never arrive, Power was able to use more fuel from Lap 77 until he returned to the pits on Lap 111, and again had more fuel onboard for the 17 tours of the 1.5-mile superspeedway that remained.

Power’s 31 laps led was one fewer than Scott Dixon’s count and less than half how many Pagenaud had accumulated, but the former Indy 500 victor and IndyCar titlist ran them both down to secure his first win of 2019 and the 36th of his career in a race that was cut 72 laps short.

Critically for his Penske stablemate Josef Newgarden, Power kept 10 championship points out of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s hands by relegating the reigning champion to second on the final results. Dixon leaves Pocono within 52 points of Newgarden after moving to within 62 with his win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month.

Still third in the standings, Pagenaud gained seven points on Newgarden by completing the Pocono podium with a field-high 64 laps led.

Santino Ferrucci and Newgarden filled the final two spots in the top five, with the Dale Coyne Racing rookie matching his best IndyCar finish to date of fourth in the previous superspeedway event at Texas Motor Speedway. Newgarden earned 31 points and will take to the track next with a 35-point advantage over Alexander Rossi — up from 16 after Mid-Ohio.

The widening of the gap between those top two in the points is attributable to Rossi’s involvement in a Lap 1 crash. Causing Rossi’s worst finish since he placed 22nd on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the five-car crash was sparked when Takuma Sato collided with Rossi’s Andretti Autosport Honda entering Turn 2. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Felix Rosenqvist and James Hinchcliffe were also involved, with Sato ending up upside down and Rosenqvist’s NTT Data car nearly flipping before landing partially atop the SAFER Barrier.

Andretti crew returned the cars of Rossi and Hunter-Reay to the track after losing more than 70 laps — and taking a 10-lap penalty for unproved work under a red flag — while Rosenqvist was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation of non-life threatening injuries.

Spencer Pigot contributed to the total of seven crashed cars when he contacted the Turn 1 wall on Lap 40 and caused the second caution.

Pigot’s boss Ed Carpenter finished sixth as one of the 10 remaining drivers who avoided a wreck, followed in the top 10 by Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball.

Six days after the early checkered flag in Pennsylvania, IndyCar will reconvene at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis for the third-to-last race of the season. The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will take place Aug. 24.

Aaron Durant
Aaron Duranthttp://aarondurant.com
Aaron brings a developing design and editorial vision to The Apex every day and co-hosts The Braking Point podcast every week. As editor-in-chief and an avid reader, Aaron enjoys aligning his relentless care for quality with an interest in counterintuitive approaches.

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