Race Weekend Central

Will Power Uses Overcut to Win Road America & Snap Winless Streak

A race with a hectic start on the first lap transitioned into an all-day battle between the Team Penske drivers, with Will Power coming out on top at the NTT IndyCar Series XPEL Grand Prix at Road America.

The Aussie’s No. 12 team made the call to stay out one more lap during the final pit stop window, leaping to the front from third place. He held off teammate Josef Newgarden in a blistering 10-lap dash to win for the first time in 34 races, snapping a streak that has followed him since the Detroit Grand Prix in 2022.

“I don’t know man, I felt good about today,” Power said in victory lane. “We had a very fast car, but I want to thank all the guys man. It was extra special. We tried so hard to get wins. Worked hard in the offseason, obviously last year was very stressful, had half a mind at home and half at the track and very difficult to perform at a high level.

“Just stoked. Verizon has been a big supporter of mine and happy to get that car bck in victory lane. And Chevy had great horsepower. I’m very happy.”

During the final pit stop exchange, all three Penske cars came in on successive laps. Scott McLaughlin, who was the early favorite to win, came in first. He was unable to cut into leader Newgarden’s gap. However, when Newgarden came in the next lap, Power throttled down and, after he exited the pits, maintained a one-second lead on the charging American. Newgarden was unable to catch the Verizon Chevrolet. 

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For Newgarden, he continued a trend of positive performances at Road America over his last three visits, adding a second runner-up result to a win he secured in 2022. However it wasn’t an easy day, as during the opening lap incident, he hit and spun Colton Herta, which race control deemed wasn’t penalty worthy. The early stretch of the race required the No. 2 driver to chase McLaughlin for first, who he finally caught and passed on lap 36, but then it was for not as Power cycled in front after the final stops.

“Today was a really good team day,” runner-up Newgarden said. “Really good, 1-2-3. We can’t be dissatisfied about that. Will did a great job too. Look, he deserved to win the race as well. He drove really well today. It was a great team day. I think we let that one go for sure. That’s what is hard about it.”

McLaughlin led 18 laps, the most in the field, but got beat on pit strategy. He earned his third podium of the year. Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou finished fourth, rebounding from his 16th at Detroit, his worse result since 2022. Kyle Kirkwood rounded out the top five, giving him six top 10s out of seven races this year.

Power’s win was a sweet breakthrough for a driver that had dealt with personal family matters over the previous year. His wife Liz was hospitalized in 2023, presenting a challenging situation which hampered his title defense. The season ended up being one of the worst in his career as he went winless for the first time since teaming up with Penske in 2009.

This year has been a total 180-degree-turn as far as results. He had earned three runner-ups and was a contender at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach before breaking through this weekend. It is Power’s 42nd victory, and lifts him to the championship lead to boot.

As for Team Penske, they took their first sweep of the podium for the first time since the 2017 season finale at Sonoma Raceway.

Heading into Sunday, it appeared the story lines would focus on the young duo of Linus Lundqvist and Marcus Armstrong at Chip Ganassi Racing. Lundqvist had secured his first IndyCar pole during a wet session on Saturday. However, that advantage in leading the field lasted one turn, when Armstrong rear ended his teammate, causing both to spin. Herta and Graham Rahal were also involved. Lundqvist was able to fight back to 12th, but Armstrong placed further down the order in 26th.

The nightmare start for Ganassi continued further into the race, as rookie Kyffin Simpson, who was having his best race of the season, was spun off track into a barrier by fellow first-year driver Christian Rasmussen and points leader Scott Dixon had to pit after only seven laps on a set of red, alternate tires that were blistering. Dixon finished 21st, which was worsened by the fact he lost the points lead, and Simpson finished 27th, last in the field.

2024 IndyCar XPel Grand Prix of Road America Results

Power takes a five-point lead over Palou to the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca, which will run for the first time in the summer for IndyCar on June 23. Coverage will begin at 6 p.m. ET on USA and Peacock.

About the author

Tom is an IndyCar writer at Frontstretch, joining in March 2023. He also works full-time for the Department of Veterans Affairs History Office and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. A native Hoosier, he calls Fort Wayne home. Follow Tom on Twitter @TomBlackburn42.

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