After not winning a race in the Verizon IndyCar Series in more than a calendar year, Will Power has now won two in a row. The Team Penske driver held off a hard-charging Tony Kanaan in the closing laps to win the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America. It’s career win number 27 for Power, which ties him with Johnny Rutherford for 13th on the career wins list. Power started the race on pole, led 46 of the 50 laps, and sealed the deal in IndyCar’s much anticipated return to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The last race for the open wheel cars at Road America was 2007, where Graham Rahal landed on the podium as a teenager with a 3rd place finish. A lot has changed for the married man since then, but he finished 3rd again today, joining Power and Kanaan on the podium. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five on Sunday.
Kohler Grand Prix at Road America Box Score
Charlie Kimball had a strong day and finished 6th, while Juan Montoya had an action-packed afternoon on his way to a 7th place finish. Apparently one of Montoya’s encounters was with Kimball. Juan said after the race, “I’m not a big fan of how Charlie races.” There wasn’t much mention of James Hinchcliffe, but he had a decent afternoon, finishing 14th after starting last. Conor Daly had another terrific race going, running in the top six all afternoon, before his suspension broke going into Turn 1 with just 12 laps remaining in the race.
Two weeks ago today, Josef Newgarden suffered a broken collar bone and a broken bone in his hand in a horrific crash at Texas Motor Speedway. Many people were hoping he could get back in the car at some point this season. Today, Newgarden suited up, drove more than 200 miles around the Road America circuit, and finished in 8th position after starting 20th. It was an amazing performance by the young American driver. His teammate, Rookie Spencer Pigot, finished right behind him in 9th, making it a great day for Ed Carpenter Racing.
It was a devastating day for Scott Dixon, who entered the day in second place in the championship standings. He started alongside Power on the front row, but just six laps into the race, he had a mechanical issue that ended his day. He’ll have some work to do in order to defend his title this year, but the day wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Dixon dropped two spots to 4th in the standings, but only lost 10 points to leader Simon Pagenaud.
While Pagenaud is still at the top of the standings, his day ended on a very sour note. The Frenchman was right behind his teammate Power in 2nd place with just a few laps remaining, when his engine began to have issues. He dropped like a fly, ultimately finishing in 13th position. His lead was 80 points entering the weekend, and is now 74 points over teammate Castroneves. Power, despite missing the season-opening race, is now third in the standings, as Team Penske holds the top three spots.
The return to Road America was something everyone was looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. It’s a tremendous track at a majestic location, and the racing is always top notch, no matter what the series. Track President George Bruggenthies said that today was the largest attended event in Road America history. He also said that IndyCar will return next year, as the deal they signed was for three years.
There are 7 races remaining in the 2016 season. The next race on the schedule is the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway on July 10. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 5 PM ET on Sunday.
Race Photos via IndyCar
Juan Montoya: “It’s hard when you qualify that far back. We had really good pace in the DeVilbiss Chevrolet, but there’s nothing you can do to advance that many positions. We executed well. We did make a couple small mistakes in the first run, but we kind of got with the program and got better and better. We had a fun day. It was so exciting to come back to Road America. This place is incredible. It’s just amazing. If anyone complains about the racing today, then they should go watch horse racing or something.”
Helio Castroneves: “It was a great day for the Hitachi Chevrolet. We got a solid result and gained some ground in the standings. There may have been a few times where if we had done something else, we could have come out a little better, but who knows. I’m proud of my guys and can’t thank them enough for their hard work. The event here this weekend was spectacular. The fans were just great. I hope we can keep coming back here.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was kind of a bittersweet day in the Arrow Electronics car. We had a really quick car on the reds and went off sequence a little bit there to try to get some clean track. We pumped out a lot of quick laps – I think we had the third-quickest race lap – and made progress on some guys. I had a spin early in the race, which really killed us not having a yellow to catch that back up. We weren’t quite as strong on the blacks as we were on the reds. On the last stint, if it had stayed green, I think we’d have been OK. We had just put sticker blacks on but then on the restart we kind of got swallowed up by the guys on reds. It was just bad timing on the yellow there and we just weren’t able to make quite as much progress as we were hoping today.
Mikhail Aleshin: “It was a very frustrating race for us in the SMP Racing car. We struggled at the beginning but the car came to us. We had some brake issues at the end but still were in line for a very good finish. Unfortunately, we had a penalty for blocking early on, but we were blocked at the end and there was no penalty given so it’s a little inconsistent and difficult for me to understand. Overall, we made good progress throughout the weekend. The guys worked really hard and I like the Road America track.”
Max Chilton: “It was a real character building day today for us I guess you would say. It seemed like everyone just went early on the start and I was stuck behind a few cars that didn’t go. From there we just fell back unfortunately. I think we ended up running out of fuel for whatever reason after that and dropped way back. It was a tough day for the Gallagher team but I know all these guys who win races and championships in the Verizon IndyCar Series went through this, and you have to deal with these kind of days and move forward.”
Scott Dixon: “I’m not really sure what happened there. We maintained our spot in second and I was happy with the Clorox car at the start. We just started losing power for some reason and had to pull off track. It’s really a shame as we had really good pace in the car and I think would have been in contention for the win. It looked like a great crowd out there today and I was really excited to be back here at Road America, but we didn’t get a chance to finish unfortunately.”
Tony Kanaan: “I really believe that the extra lap of yellow at the end cost me the race. I don’t know all of the details about what happened with the extended yellow, but I’m obviously not in control of that. Will (Power) did a really good job of saving his push to passes until the last lap. We had the red tires (in the last laps) which was a little quicker and we were just chasing Will down. Towards the end we had one push to pass which gave us extra power but he had three so he had an advantage on us, but what a great race. Down the straightaways I was able to look at the fans on the last two laps and people were standing and spinning hats and shirts and that’s what I love to see. I hope (the fans) enjoyed it as much as I did and they come back because we’ll make even better next year.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “It’s a shame because the Hydroxycut machine was a good race car. Unfortunately, we got hit on the first lap and went down a lap repairing the damage. It was pretty much game over at that point. We soldiered on and gave it our best, passing when we could, but with only the one late caution there wasn’t much we could do. It’s especially frustrating because, as I have said before, I really like the Road America circuit and the atmosphere this weekend was fantastic. Fortunately, we will be racing here again. At this point, the KVSH Racing Team will just have to move on and see what we can do in Iowa.”
Will Power: “TK (Tony Kanaan) had the reds on and was coming hard. He was quick all race. I had my work cut out and did everything I could to stay ahead. I’m stoked to get the Verizon car to Victory Lane. Thanks to Chevy. It’s a phenomenal car and phenomenal engine. I’m just so stoked. I wasn’t going to let it go on the restart. I was determined to get a great restart and keep the lead. TK was mega quick there at the end. I just had a few more push to pass left and that helped. The Firestones were great. We had no problems, we could do full stints. It was just great, great. I was talking championship even before this race. There are seven races to go and we’re still in it. There could be a 100-point swing in the last race. We have to go for it. It’s just a great place and I’m just so stoked to win that way. I badly wanted to win another race. I needed that one. It is huge! I walked around the camping grounds earlier in the weekend. It just amazed me how many people are here, and how much fun they are having. Just walking in here on Thursday, you could see the place was really popping. I am just so stoked to be back here. We should have been back here a long time ago. All the fans are great.
Takuma Sato: “Great work from the team considering we couldn’t come to the test. We caught up in the practice but then we had a disappointing qualifying run. I was quite happy to show our true performance in the race. In the first half of the race, I was able to overtake several cars and we got up to P-8. Unfortunately, we had an issue with a pit speed limiter and we caught a speed penalty twice and that is why the result is not a true reflection of the performance. The ABC guys had awesome pit stops and brilliant work by the team so we’ll just keep on working.”
Graham Rahal: “We’re pleased with what we did here today and accomplished for the Gehl team. We can’t thank Gehl and PennGrade enough for making this happen for us. It was cool to have the yellow car back on track. We ran the new reds first and I think that hurt us a little bit. We learned from it and we’ll move on and do better here next year. It’s great to be back at Road America. This is my second third-place finish here in my Indy car career so it’s cool to be back here and the fans are just amazing. For us, and our year, I think this was pretty big. We’ve been fast everywhere we’ve just had a lot of stuff go against us. To get a podium felt nice today. (Simon) Pagenaud and I, for like 20 some laps, he was right behind me and I was giving it everything I possibly had – there were sections I was better than him and then sections he clearly had me. I think in Canada Corner I was weak all weekend, but again, we battled hard and had a good day. The tire strategy hurt us and that’s how Pagenaud got back around us. We just made the wrong tire call and it definitely hurt. It is what it is and we still came out of here third.”
Conor Daly: “It just went so fast, it felt like I got clipped by Ryan (Hunter-Reay) but clearly that wasn’t the case. After looking at the car, we now know that there was a left rear suspension failure. I never had something like that happen before. Other than that, it was nice to be consistently running up front and trying to chase down the Penske cars. It’s a tough race for sure but the team gave me a good car that I could race with so that was nice. I guess these things happen, we just have to move on. Finally, I also want to say how awesome it is to be racing here at Road America, and seeing all that fans that came out. What a great event. I hope we come back next year.”
Gabby Chaves: “First of all I want to thank all the fans for coming out. It’s great to see so many people here. It’s one of my favorite tracks and hopefully we get to come back year after year. As for our race, I think I could’ve maybe saved a top 12 finish but unfortunately it looked like we had some sort of electrical issue without pit lane speed limiter and we were just getting pit lane speed violations every time we came in the pits, which is weird because it was fine in practice. I made sure every time we were at the line that we were where we needed to be and we got two in a row, so I guess these things happen. I just had to do it manually at the end. It hurt us though because we lost a lap and half. It puts you in a position where you’re not even racing anymore.”
Spencer Pigot: “I had a lot of fun out there today – it was a really fun race. For the first half of the race we were kind of by ourselves, but towards the end – after the restart – to be around (Juan) Montoya and Simon (Pagenaud) and guys I’ve been watching for so many years. To be racing against them so close was really cool. I just can’t thank this team enough for having me, Fuzzy’s Vodka and Chevrolet and Rising Star Racing, and we’re looking forward to building on this next time out. I think having raced here in the past definitely helped getting up to speed with the car and the track here throughout the race. Knowing where to pass and if you overshoot a corner where you can kind of get away with it and where it’s going to bite you. At the end there it was pretty wild. You have to fight so hard for every position. A couple of times going into Turn 5, Carlos (Munoz) and I and Simon (Pagenaud) and I braked way too late I thought and somehow came out the other end. It was just cool to be racing against these guys.”
Josef Newgarden: “The car was so good today. I think if I didn’t mess it up yesterday, we would have had a really good race. We did still have a good race. I just think we had a podium car if I could have qualified the thing properly. We got good points, we gained points on the guys we needed to in the championship. I’ll try and heal up a little better for Iowa since that will be harder than this one. I think we put on a great show for the fans, we had an amazing crowd. We should have been coming here all along! I hope we come back here for many, many years to run. It’s one of the best tracks and has the best racing. That’s one of the reasons I wanted make sure I was able to race here.”
Simon Pagenaud: “We were having a really good day, but unfortunately we had a little issue with the engine. We had the Menards Chevy hunting for the win. We had a really good race going in this wonderful setting at Road America. The atmosphere was perfect. The race strategy was perfect. It’s tough when you have an opportunity and you can’t maximize it in the championship. It’s a tough day today, but we’ll bounce back. This team is incredible. They give me the best cars every weekend, so we’ll just move forward.”
Carlos Munoz: “It was a hard race. We didn’t have a lot of rhythm, if I am honest. The last few laps I lost some spots. We were a little bit behind this race. We were looking better yesterday. I don’t know what happened today. It was a great turnout for such a great track though. It’s good to have IndyCar back at Road America. I think the first few laps had a good show for the crowd. It was good to see so many people here.”
Marco Andretti: “It was just a tough race. I need more out of myself, I feel like I let the guys down all weekend. I made that mistake in qualifying so we started on the back row which made our Sunday way more difficult than it needed to be. Then we tried with strategy but weren’t able to gain as much ground as we needed. We were preparing to pit when that yellow came out, so things could have turned out differently there. Twelfth from 21st is OK, but we wanted better for the UFD / Snapple team.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “It was good in all considering, we really had to fight for it today. The car was not ideal in the beginning of the race, especially on used reds and blacks. Once we got going, in the end the – I think with the rubber down (on the track), everything started to suit us. The DHL car was good at the end. We had a pretty good fight with a few (other cars). There was some pretty dirty racing though by a couple others, but we’ll talk about all of that stuff here after the weekend. Just really great to see the fan turn out today here at Road America – any time you see a bunch of fans starting right away on Friday, you know it’s going to be a good weekend.”
Jack Hawksworth: “It was an interesting race. At the beginning we were one of the fastest cars on the track-the car was absolutely flying and we passed five or six cars and I thought, ‘Oh this is going to be a good day’. Unfortunately, we had an issue on the first stop and we came out behind Pigot which messed us up in that second stint. The used reds went away a lot too. We pitted for blacks and they were not that great. We got the new reds on at the end and the car felt good. The caution came out right after that so I was able to pick up some positions on the restart and finished 11th. It was an up and down race. I also got a drive through which didn’t help because I was point 1 mph over the pit lane speed which was disappointing but it was an up and down race.”
Charlie Kimball: “A lot of credit to the Novo Nordisk team today. It’s nice to see Tony Kanaan on the podium and it was too bad for Scott Dixon. We worked a lot on the setup with Max Chilton’s guys and that was really helpful. I had a really good run on Helio (Castroneves) but he blocked me there toward the end. Then he gave a position back to Hunter-Reay and not me so I’m not sure what went down there. A lot of credit to the 83 guys on pit lane today. They kept giving me positions on pit lane. I’m pretty happy with the result and the fans were just incredible this weekend at Road America.”
Alexander Rossi: “The race started pretty well. We were fighting for the top 10 on the first stint. After the first pit stop we had a front wing failure, which is two this weekend and difficult to swallow. We had to come in for a front wing change so that was pretty much our race right there. I thought the car was pretty good and thought we could drive to the front. None the less I am very happy INDYCAR is back to Road America. I think the fan reception was fantastic, so I look forward to hopefully coming back here in the future.”