The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is clearly the place that Will Power needs to visit when he is in a slump. The Team Penske driver has had a dismal season by his standards, but may have turned things around today by winning on the IMS road course yet again. It is the first win of the season for Power, who has now won a race in 15 consecutive years. It is his fifth victory on the road course and the sixth time he has won an IndyCar race at the Speedway.
This also marks the 40th career win for Power, which also puts him in sole possession of fifth place on the all-time wins list. He led 56 of the 85 laps today and has now led 341 laps on this circuit. No other driver has led more than 75 laps. Only NASCAR star Kyle Busch, with two Brickyard 400 wins and four Xfinity Series wins on the oval, has as many major race victories at the World’s Greatest Racecourse.
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It was deja vu for Romain Grosjean, who has now finished 2nd in both of his starts on the IMS road course after his runner-up finish in early May. The Dale Coyne Racing driver was over the moon with the result, and being able to share it with his family. After a sour race last weekend in Nashville, Colton Herta rebounded nicely with a strong podium finish today. His Andretti teammate Alexander Rossi was just behind him in 4th, which was his best result of the season.
Rounding out the top five finishers on Saturday was Pato O’Ward. It may not have been the top step on the podium, but the weekend had to feel like a win for him and the Arrow McLaren SP team. After a bad weekend in Nashville, O’Ward turned it on at Indianapolis. He qualified on pole Friday evening, which rewarded him with one bonus championship point. By the time the checkered flag fell on Saturday, O’Ward had moved back into second place in the standings, just 21 points out of the lead.
The big reason for this was the taste of bad luck that points leader Alex Palou got in today’s race. An engine issue ended his day early when he was running inside the top ten. It was a massive blow to the Ganassi driver, who saw his 42-point lead entering this weekend get sliced in half. The final four races of the season are going to be must-see television.
Jack Harvey had a quiet day, which resulted in a solid 6th place finish. Graham Rahal did what Graham Rahal does at Indianapolis. He gained nine more positions from where he started and has now improved 79 total positions from start to finish in his last ten starts on the IMS road course. Josef Newgarden also did a fine job of moving up through the field, finishing in 8th after starting back in 20th position. Marcus Ericsson had another steady afternoon and Takuma Sato rounded out the top ten on Saturday for RLL Racing.
Simon Pagenaud was nowhere to be found on Saturday. The three-time winner of this race started in 12th place and went backward, finishing 16th. Behind him was Scott Dixon, who had to start back in 26th after his struggles in qualifying the day before. His teammate Jimmie Johnson showed steady progress this weekend and had his best career finish today in 19th. Top Gun Racing made their first start of the season, but driver RC Enerson was only able to complete 12 laps before a mechanical issue ended their day.
After the much-criticized race last weekend, Saturday’s event at IMS was a major success. There were 269 on-track passes, which is the most ever on the IMS road course. Of those passes, 190 were for position, which ties the record that was set in 2018. Austin Cindric won the Xfinity Series race that followed this event, giving Team Penske the opportunity to go three-for-three this weekend with a win in tomorrow’s NASCAR Cup Series race.
The 2021 IndyCar season is winding down, and the final oval race looms next weekend. The next race on the schedule is the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway on August 21. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 8 PM ET on Saturday.