(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – As Will Power was about to finish off the biggest win of his racing career at the 102nd Indianapolis 500, he couldn’t resist letting his emotions flow.
“On the white flag lap, I started screaming because I just knew I was going to win it,” Power said of the final 2.5-mile trip around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. “Unbelievable! Never been so excited.”
Power won The Greatest Spectacle in Racing by 3.1589 seconds to etch his name into Indianapolis 500 history. It made him the first Australian winner of the race and the first driver to sweep both IndyCar Series races at IMS in the same year. He also piloted the No. 12 Chevrolet to victory lane in the IndyCar Grand Prix on the IMS road course on May 12.
“This month was one of the best months I’ve had,” said Power, the 2014 series champion. “Very relaxed, in tune with my engineer, just working really well. It just came together.”
Power led 59 of the 200 laps Sunday and outlasted a trio of competitors, including Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, and Jack Harvey, who unsuccessfully tried to stretch fuel loads to the finish.
Running fourth on the final restart from a caution period with seven laps to go, Power quickly passed Servia and then delighted in watching as Wilson and Harvey both had to stop for splashes of ethanol with four laps remaining.
“They both pit; it’s like the gates opened,” Power said. “It was amazing.”
Power’s first Indy 500 win was also the 34th victory of his 14-year Indy car career, tying the 37 year-old with Al Unser Jr for eighth place on the all-time list. It also marked the 17th Indy 500 win for Team Penske and 201st Indy car triumph for the storied team; both records.
“He won this race today because he was the best,” team owner Roger Penske said. “This closes the book for what he wanted to accomplish in IndyCar: win a championship (2014), now is tied for winning the most races as an Indy driver for the team (31), and the Indy 500 is something that he wanted to do from the very beginning … He’s in a different world right now, which is important.”
Pole sitter Ed Carpenter led a race-high 65 laps before finishing second in the No. 20 Chevrolet. It’s Carpenter’s best Indy 500 result in 15 starts.
“I’ll feel pretty good about this in a couple days, I think,” said Carpenter, the only current owner/driver in the series. “It’s been a few years since I had a top-10 finish, so this feels good. All in all, I thought Will won the race and we ended up second, and we’ll be happy with that. Come back stronger next year.”
Scott Dixon led a trio of past Indy 500 winners who finished third through fifth, followed by teammates Alexander Rossi (fourth place) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (fifth place). The race tied the record established a year ago for most drivers to lead the event with 15.
Seven cautions slowed the pace for 41 laps. All but the first resulted from single-car incidents.
Defending Indy 500 champion Takuma Sato ran into the back of a slower James Davison to bring out the first yellow on Lap 48. Several veterans found conditions treacherous in a race that was nearly the hottest Indy 500 on record. The official high temperature at nearby Indianapolis International Airport, 91F, was a single degree shy of the record set in 1937.
Ed Jones crashed into the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier on Lap 58 in the No. 10 Honda. Complaining of head and neck pain, Jones was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital, where he was examined and released. Jones will be re-examined by IndyCar medical officials before being cleared to race.
Danica Patrick, in the last race of her ground-breaking career, spun and crashed in the No. 13 Chevrolet exiting Turn 2 on Lap 68.
“The car was a little bit positive today and turning more than I wanted it to,” said Patrick, 36. “I was just having to chase it a lot. Turn 2 did seem a little bit more edgy than the other corners, but I can’t say that in that point in time that I was on edge or felt like I was. It just swung around as soon as I recommitted back to the throttle again. I’ve had a lot of good fortune here and still had some this month. It just didn’t come on race day.”
Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais had his race come to an end when he crashed in Turn 4 on Lap 139. The same happened to three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves on Lap 146.
“I guess when I went to pass Hunter-Reay on the outside, maybe got a little debris on the tire,” Castroneves said. “I don’t know, that was obviously the first time … But this time, unfortunately, the rear just over-rotated.”
Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, crashed in Turn 2 on Lap 189, bringing out the final caution to set up Power’s drive to victory. With the Indy 500 paying double race points, Power vaulted into the championship lead after six of 17 races in 2018. He leads Rossi by two points, reigning IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden by 10 and Dixon by 25.
The IndyCar Series is back in action this weekend, June 1 through 3 at the Detroit Grand Prix, the only doubleheader weekend on the schedule. Races are scheduled for Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3, with each airing at 3:30pm on ABC.