Will Power didn’t have a perfect weekend, but it was about as close as you could get.
The Team Penske driver was fastest in all practice sessions, earned pole position on Friday, and won the IndyCar Grand Prix on Saturday. He broke his own track record in qualifying, and led 61 of the 85 laps in the race on his way to earning his 30th career win. This was the first win of the season for Power, and is the third straight for Penske. It is the 190th win for Roger Penske’s team in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Finishing 5.2830 seconds behind Power was Ganassi rival Scott Dixon. Ryan Hunter-Reay joined them on the podium, which is his first of the season. Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, rounded out the top five on Saturday.
IndyCar Grand Prix Box Score
Graham Rahal continued his annual march through the field here. In 2015, he started 17th and finished 2nd. Last year he started 24th and finished 4th. Today, he started in 20th, and finished in 6th position. He wasn’t the only one that charged through the field. Max Chilton started in 14th, and ended up finishing 7th. Spencer Pigot finished 9th after starting in 16th position. Takuma Sato improved ten spots, and JR Hildebrand finished seven spots ahead of where he started.
Juan Montoya had a good start in his first race this season. He wasn’t able to join the Penske party up front, but was still able to grab a top ten finish. Josef Newgarden started up front, and was there for most of the day before his day was ruined for a late pit road violation. Surprisingly, he has not finished in the top ten of this race in his four starts.
The race was caution free, but there were a few sour moments for some. Sebastien Bourdais was out after three laps due to a blown engine, and Charlie Kimball was out of the race after 32 laps. Marco Andretti made contact with Tony Kanaan on the opening lap, which ruined both of their days. Tony said that Marco apologized to him after the race.
With Bourdais’ trouble, and Ed Jones finishing 19th, it was definitely a sour day for Dale Coyne Racing. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports had a rough afternoon as well, with both drivers failing to finish in the top 12. AJ Foyt Racing also had a day to forget, although Conor Daly had a strong first half of the race.
Now the real fun begins. There is no on track activity tomorrow, but Monday is the first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500. The action will run from Noon – 6 PM ET, with several drivers also taking part in Rookie Orientation. The first two hours on Monday will used for that, with all participants able to practice after that.
Simon Pagenaud: “We had a good day. I mean it was a difficult weekend for us on the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet car. I didn’t have the speed this weekend. I couldn’t find how to feel more comfortable with the tires; the new Firestone tires they brought this weekend. I didn’t have the speed Will (Power) had. Overall, bringing home a fourth-place finish is good. We’re still in the lead for the championship which is what I want. I’m just super excited next is the Indy 500. It’s my No. 1 goal this year and I know Roger [Penske] is really excited about it. My team is really excited and I want to bring the Menards car to the top step.”
Josef Newgarden: “I don’t know what happened. I think we ran into some sort of glitch and they dinged us two times for speeding on pit road. It was a tough day for us. We had a really fast hum by Verizon car. We really didn’t struggle with much today. We started a little slower than we had hoped, but at the end the car was a rocket. I’m disappointed for our guys because we did everything right and we had great stops, we just had a little glitch there. We had a great race car and just couldn’t capitalize. I think we had a car that could have been a podium car, maybe even a second-place car. We just didn’t capitalize today. Congrats to Will (Power) though. He was strong all weekend long.”
Helio Castroneves: “I thought we had figured something out with some strategy there at the end, but the car was a handful. The Verizon car was great all day long. We decided to take a gamble and get off on tire strategy and it just didn’t work like we had hoped. We have five good cars that can all win the race, so someone had to take a chance. We probably shouldn’t have done it that way knowing we finished fifth, but if we would have won everyone would be looking at us saying wow. I also ended up wasting a lot of push to trying to get through traffic. Look, sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it goes. Now, we got to focus on the 500 and getting our fourth.”
Conor Daly: “I was really happy with our start and first stint, the car felt OK. I was able to fight with Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and Spencer (Pigot) and some guys up there, but I think we ran into a problem with the brakes a little bit after the first stint. Seemed to start glazing them a little bit so it was difficult to stop. And then for some reason we stalled in the pits. We’ve struggled getting out of the pits all weekend so, in the end I should be able to recognize that, but I have no idea why we were having that issue so that was a shame. That really set us back and then from then on it was just damage control. We just kept losing the brakes a little bit. On reds, the car was good but on blacks we didn’t have enough, on blacks we were too far off.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was not the best weekend for the Arrow crew. We rolled off the truck with a car that finished on the podium at this track last year. It’s so tough because every race this year, our strength has been rolling off the truck with a good car. In a series that’s so competitive, and we have such little track time, that’s the key because it’s really tough to bounce back from a bad first session, and unfortunately that’s what we had. We picked off a few spots in the first stint, but ultimately we got stuck behind (Simon) Pagenaud. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind him and that allowed other cars to close in and that led to a chain reaction of events which brought us to a pretty disappointing result in 13th. We’re going to try and bounce back from this; we’ve got the two biggest weekends of the year coming up and we’re going to try and hit it out of the park.”
Mikhail Aleshin: “That was definitely not the day we were hoping for. Our car was just difficult to drive this weekend. Anyway, today is finished. This race is finished and the car is in one piece. We’ll learn from today and move forward.”
Max Chilton: “It was just a really, really good day for myself and the Gallagher team. It was by far the best race I’ve had in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The team did a good job and we made a call to start on primary tires and I knew within five or six laps it would pay off for us. On the second stint it just started playing into our hand, and having no yellows furthered our strategy. Moving forward seven positions in the race was mega, and without any off strategies playing out, we got there on straight speed. This is a great start to May and hope we can do even better in the 500.”
Scott Dixon: “It was definitely a tough day. We couldn’t really hold onto the rear tires. The Honda just had too much power there. We were spinning the rear tires. Good points there for everybody on the NTT Data car. Great day for Honda. Obviously, not a win but very close. Looking forward to Monday and getting on the big track here.”
Tony Kanaan: “Today definitely wasn’t our day. We had issues from the first lap when Marco spun us and punctured my tire all the way to later in the race when one of my front tires started going down. Those extra stops just put us back too far and with no yellows there was no way we were going to make up those few laps we were already down. It’s not a great way to start the month, but we’ve all seen what Honda can do here so I’m looking forward to getting back on the oval on Monday.”
Will Power: “It just feels great to finally have a good day and everyone has worked so hard on our team. Obviously, a rough start. But, like you said, should have won a couple by now. It helps in points. It’s great to get a win again. I think that’s number 30. Good number. I want to make that 31 by the end of this month.”
Carlos Munoz: “Another really hard race, really. Our weekend started okay and then got worse. I’m not really happy. Grip-wise, we just really lacked grip. It’s a shame. Hopefully, we turn it around. Now focusing on the Indy 500, we’ll see how our package is, but we are suffering. There’s work that lies ahead so we just need to continue working hard.”
Graham Rahal: “It’s was a pretty good day. We were on attack mode on the first stint. We had to pump out a whole bunch of qualifying laps and close the gaps. My United Rentals boys did a great job in the pits because we got by a lot of guys there and we were able to pass a lot of guys. Overall I’m pleased with the day that we had. We completed all 85 laps and raised $100 a lap for Soldier/Strong and Turns for Troops which means a lot to me. It’s just a good way to start the month. I was disappointed with qualifying but I’ll take a sixth. I was fighting the whole way and guys – the lapped cars – certainly weren’t making it easy there at the end. I was running low on push-to-pass and I knew Max (Chilton) was coming. It was a very physical day but I’m looking forward to the 500 coming up here. I take pride in my race craft come Sundays, but you better believe I wish my job was easier than that. Because on a day like today we had a car to win this race, I guarantee you that so it’s disappointing starting where we start and putting ourselves in that hole. This field and the competitiveness of the drivers is why there were no yellows and when there are no yellows, 85 laps on a warm day like this is a good workout. We know we can compete, we know we can run up front. We’ve had a lot of things go against us this year but today finally we had just a smooth, good day.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “There’s not much to say. The start was pretty good and then everybody on my side of the track went to the right side and found a gap, and there was no gap next to me so I was the guy alone on the left side of the road which wasn’t so good. (Alexander) Rossi and Simon (Pagenaud) got a run on us and got by us, but I was happy that I was able to get Simon right back on the back straight and then Rossi on the next lap. We were going to try and do our thing and get back with Montoya, but the engine failed on the frontstraight and that was the end of our day.”
Ed Jones: “It was a difficult race. On the start we moved up a little bit, then going into Turn 7 (Tony) Kanaan spun in front of me I had to avoid him. I thought he was going to take me out properly. In avoiding him, I had to go through the grass and that sent me to the back of the field. Then we were coming back through the field and our pace was pretty good, but then on the first pit stop we had a fueling issue where we lost a lot of time and we didn’t have all the fuel in so it messed up the whole race really as that sent us to the back. I think we had the third fastest race lap. So we were fast, and I think we probably should have been top 10, probably ninth or 10th if we didn’t have the issues.”
Juan Montoya: “We just didn’t have the pace that we were hoping to have in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits car today. We struggled on the red tires and on the first run, I felt like we blistered the rear and we lost some time there. Once we got back to about ninth or 10th, we just stayed right about there the rest of the race. It was a fun weekend, but we now turn out focus to the Indianapolis 500. That is the race we want to win and that is what we will think about starting now.”
Takuma Sato: “First of all, congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and the No. 28 crew on the outstanding podium. We had a difficult weekend, starting with a little issue and having to start at the back of the grid today – but the No. 26 crew did a great job to recover. The last stop was a little long and we need to review that. Otherwise, it was a tough race, but I think we fought back quite strongly. We’ve got good momentum for the Indianapolis 500, and I’m looking forward to starting practice on Monday.”
Marco Andretti: “Wasn’t the way I would have liked to have started the race. I knocked into TK (Tony Kanaan) and it was an uphill battle from there. I feel sorry for TK and my UFD guys, I ruined both our races. I was looking in my mirror and got tagged by Ed Jones and then got into TK. I got the penalty (for avoidable contact) and just drove as hard as I could the rest of the race.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “Pretty solid day. We’ve had a lot of bad luck this year and it’s been frustrating, but we kept our heads down and it feels nice to come onto the podium here before we kick off the most important few weeks of our careers and our whole season. It’s nice to get the yellow and red DHL colors back here and close to the top step of the podium. We’re saving that for the (Indianapolis) 500, I guess.”
Charlie Kimball: “We had a really good start of the race and we spent the first 10 laps making up spots from P19 to P14. I made a little bit of a mistake that put us back some and then we had a mechanical failure around lap 30 that ended our day. I feel bad for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing guys because they gave me a car today that could get the job done and they were great in pit lane. We’ll look into it tonight and see exactly what we have going on with the No. 83 Tresiba Honda. It’s a really unfortunate way to end a weekend that I’ve had such solid results in the past, but now we will just need to shift our focus to the Indianapolis 500.”
Alexander Rossi: “We had a really good start, but we chose the wrong downforce level – that was pretty big penalty for us until we got it balanced out on the last stint. But by that point it was too late to run up the charts. It’s great for the team though that Ryan (Hunter-Reay) is on the podium and that the NAPA team was able to score another top 10. Now we shift our focus to defending our title at the (Indianapolis) 500.”