Power powers to win in 102nd Indianapolis 500

12:02 pm | May 27, 2018 | Go to Source | Author:

INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power won a steamy, slick Indianapolis 500 that had engineers and race strategists working every bit as hard as the drivers behind the wheel.

After seemingly falling behind during a furious restart with eight laps to go, the 37-year-old Australian took the lead with four laps remaining, when youngster Stefan Wilson, trying to stretch his fuel, was forced to pit and surrender the lead. Wilson finished 15th.

It was Power’s 34th career IndyCar victory, but his first in the sport’s biggest race, coming in his eleventh try. The 500 is an event where he had been considered the favorite multiple times, but was never able to fulfill that promise, including a heartbreaking late loss to Penske Racing teammate Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015.

“I honestly was beginning to believe I was never going to win this race,” he admitted amid the victory lane celebration.

Pole-sitter and hometown hero Ed Carpenter, who led the most laps of the race at 65, finished second, more than three seconds behind.

The 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing was held on a scorching Sunday afternoon, so much so it had the Speedway’s old-timers trying to recall if they had ever seen such high temperatures for the Memorial Day weekend event. By 9 a.m., air temperatures were already in the 80s and at the halfway mark of the 200-lap race, those temps were in the low 90s and on-track temperatures were reported by ABC during their telecast as hitting 130 degrees.

Those conditions, plus a still-new race car design, sent the 33 teams into the event admitting that they didn’t know what exactly to expect from the race until it was well underway. That led to a series of varied pit strategies and a long list of race leaders, 15 in all via 30 lead changes, many of those coming during pit stops, when different teams were employing their chosen strategies, be it fewer pit stops, staggered pit stops, or fuel-saving measures.

Before a second-half restart, multiple drivers could be heard over their teams’ radio channels asking for clarifications on exactly what strategies were being employed. The final round of pit stops, starting with 28 laps remaining, were particularly tense, as every drop of fuel either gathered or missed, might mean winning or losing the race.

An abundance of second-half cautions had moved most of the field onto two strategic pages, those with full tanks and fresh tires and those working to milk the last few gasps out what little fuel they had remaining. Wilson was undone by first, Power benefitted from the second.

Stefan Wilson, making his second Indy 500 start and only third career IndyCar Series start, was forced to surrender the lead, pitting with four laps remaining for fuel, handing the lead to Power.

There were seven caution periods in all, claiming some of the event’s biggest stars. That list of victims included 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, driving for A.J. Foyt, four-time Champ Car series champion Sebastien Bourdais, three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. Defending race winner Takuma Sato crashed out just shy of the race’s one-quarter mark after tangling with the much slower machine of James Davison.

Shortly thereafter, Danica Patrick lost control of her ill-handling car while running 17th and smacked the Turn 2 wall. She finished her eighth and final Indy 500 race in 30th place, a career worst. It was her first race back at Indy since 2011 and only her second finish outside the top 10.

“What really bums you was this, but really both of them,” she said, referring to February, when she also crashed out of her final Daytona 500. “We had some moments to be proud of this month (of May) they just didn’t come on race day. But we had some good moments.

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