Race Weekend Central

Will Power Survives 4 Penalties to Finish 6th on Streets of Detroit

DETROIT, Mich.– Will Power had one of the most adventurous paths to a sixth place finish that he’s ever had in his NTT IndyCar Series career during Sunday’s (June 2) Detroit Grand Prix.

After a first-lap collision that created a four-car train, another collision with Rinus VeeKay 40 laps later in the same corner, and four separate penalties from race control, it seemed almost unthinkable that IndyCar’s pole position record-holder would be anywhere near the top 10 finishers.

Then again, Detroit wasn’t exactly a normal race. With eight cautions for 47 laps which included almost the entire stretch of laps from 33 to 73, one look at the box score would give anyone reason to question how Power moved up from last place early in the race up to the top 10.

A lot of it boils down to strategy. Power pitted late under a caution for the incident involving Linus Lundqvist, Marcus Armstrong, Christian Lundgaard and Romain Grosjean. But he did so while the pits were closed. The 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner had to serve a drive-through penalty under green flag conditions but was saved by another caution when Scott McLaughlin and Sting Ray Robb had contact which sent Robb into the turn 5 tire barrier.

The two-time IndyCar Series champion then vaulted up to seventh place as 13 of the 19 drivers on the lead lap hit pit road, putting Power just behind eventual race winner Scott Dixon, Armstrong, Tristan Vautier and the trio of Kyle Kirkwood, Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi who hit pit road but were done with their service before Power hit the blend line at pit exit.

From then on it was a race of fuel saving. Power had to go the remaining 42 laps of the race on fuel, assuming that enough cautions would take the strategy out of the race.

“It was like sort of rolling the dice, see what happens,” Power told Frontstretch. “I mean, that’s why I said to the guys, ‘just pit me as early as you can because we’ll make it to the end. It’s just going to be yellow after yellow.’

“Actually, honestly the car was really fast at the end. Once I got it sorted and got the fuel, it probably could have finished a little higher, probably could have got Rossi, but yeah, good, good day.”

The race’s final caution for a collision between Josef Newgarden and Alex Palou at turn 3 on the ensuing restart did just that. With Newgarden and Palou stopped at the apex of the corner, race control had no choice but to bring out another yellow flag so the safety team could get the pair going again.

The three laps under yellow gave Power enough of a margin on fuel that he was able to stay on track while Lundgaard pitted from fifth place with just over one lap to go. That moved Power from seventh to sixth, where he finished just over a second behind Rossi.

See also
Scott Dixon Stretches Fuel to Win Detroit Melee

It was a good result for Power, but that came with a bit of pain, too. When Power and VeeKay had their collision in the first half of the race, that collision bent Power’s arm and nearly injured the 2022 Detroit race winner.

“Glad to get out of here with no broken wrist,” Power said. “Unfortunately my wheel got ripped and it turned into him, just ripped out of my hand. Otherwise we would’ve been fine. But he just needed to give me a little bit more room like, because that’s what ripped my hand out and got him. I thought he saw that we were three wide. I’m in the inside. He is on, there’s one in, in the middle of us, but yeah.”

The Australian is third in IndyCar points, 31 behind Dixon and 13 behind Palou, who ended the day recording his first finish outside the top 10 since Portland in 2022.

About the author

Christopherdeharde

Christopher DeHarde has covered IndyCar racing and the Road to Indy for various outlets since 2014. In addition to open wheel racing, DeHarde has also covered IMSA and various short track racing events around Indiana. Originally from New Orleans, DeHarde moved to the Indianapolis area in 2017 to further pursue a career as a motorsports writer.

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