LONG POND — Will Power’s afternoon at Pocono Raceway got off to a rough start in Sunday’s ABC Supply 500.
After losing a lap early on in the race, Power worked his way toward the front and held off a furious charge from Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden in the final 10 laps to go back-to-back at the Tricky Triangle, becoming the first driver to repeat there in IndyCar’s 46-year history at Pocono.
“I just knew if he got to the inside, that would be it. So I was very, very conscious of protecting the inside there,” Power said. “He was very fast at the end, and we kind of had to add a lot of downforce because we went to the back and went a lap down, so we had to try to get them through traffic.
“What a day, what a day. I’m spent — it was a seriously dramatic day. It was a lot of fun.”
“I thought, just hang in here like I saw (Ryan) Hunter-Reay get his lap back last year and go all the way back to third. I was very cautious on the restarts, just picking off people one-by-one and be smart. You can never give up in IndyCar because you don’t know what can happen. So got a lap back and made it to the front.”
Power positioned himself in the lead when he pitted last among the leaders on lap 160 and the crew got his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet out front. The pit window for the final stop opened up 17 laps later as Scott Dixon brought the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to the pits, starting the cycle of green-flag stops and forcing other drivers to pit.
Once pit stops concluded, Power ended up back in the lead while his margin began to shrink in the closing stages. Dixon reeled in on Power but lost the handle on his car and faded late while teammate Tony Kanaan passed him in a similar-looking NTT Data Honda.
The Penske prowess of pit stops put series points leader Newgarden into the mix for the win. He began to run down Power in the final laps, but it was to no avail as he was unable to pass the veteran, settling for a runner-up finish.
“Will deserves the win here,” Newgarden said. “He had the car to beat. I think he was the class there in the second half of the race. I could see it and was trying to keep up with him. I was going to do everything I could to beat him, but at the same time, I’m looking at where I’m stacked up. I’m sitting second and Dixon’s behind us, Helio’s behind us and Simon’s behind us. From a points standpoint, you don’t want to wreck your teammate and you don’t want to give up where I’m at.
“It was a great race for us. Congrats again to Will. It’s a Team Penske victory, 1-2 for all of us. I can’t be disappointed. I am disappointed for not winning, but I can’t be disappointed with what we got from a points standpoint.”
Newgarden leaves Pocono still as the points leader while extending his margin to 18 points over Scott Dixon, who gained a spot in the standings.
“We’ve got to hang tough here, is the thing,” Newgarden said about the title battle. “I would have loved to have won that race. I hate finishing second; I think all of us do. But, it’s in the family still. It’s a Team Penske victory so we can’t be disappointed with that.
“I’m happy for Will, he worked hard for it. But I want to win the championship. I think all of us do, so we’ve got to be smart about it.”
Sunday’s race at Pocono featured a record 42 lead changes among 10 drivers in the 500-mile event, besting the previous record of 33 set in 2015.
The Verizon IndyCar Series tackles another oval next weekend at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park for their first visit there in over a decade.