Archive for May 11, 2015

Chris Jones

The month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway got off to a terrific start with Team Penske’s Will Power wheeling a flawless road course race on Saturday. Power who started from the pole position accomplished two important goals in his quest to perform perfectly during May. One was to gain the pole, the second was to take the victory.

It has become clear that both Roger Penske (who now has a total of 17 wins at the Brickyard – including 15 Indianapolis 500 victories) and Power are focused on completing an Indianapolis grand slam, winning both pole positions and both races.

Power who had captured the Pole for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis with a new track record, went on to dominate the race itself leading 65 of 82 laps.

41BK0069The race ran virtually green the entire way, save for a two-lap yellow at the very start of the race. Power’s teammate Helio Castroneves punted the other front row car (alongside Power) of Scott Dixon in what many believe was avoidable contact. One driver directly behind Castroneves during the altercation with Dixon, yelled over his scanner that the offender should be black flagged immediately. Although no penalties were assessed during or immediately after the contest, a review is forthcoming with a likely announcement on Wednesday. Scott Dixon declined to specifically comment about Castroneves, saying: “Well, we had a great Target car today and I was looking forward to gaining some ground in the points after starting on the front row. There’s not much you can say about the start. We got turned around from behind and then had damage to both front and rear wings, and had to change both. Tough day for the No. 9 Target car.”

In the case of Castroneves, his position was that he had nowhere to go and it became a racing real estate issue. He stated: “I was just trying to make sure I didn’t hit anyone – and that I didn’t get hit – in that first corner. Just wanted to put the No. 3 Verizon Chevy in a good position there. Unfortunately, I clipped (Scott) Dixon in the right rear when he turned into the corner. Obviously him spinning out put me into the grass and we lost many spots.”

Time will tell what the IndyCar Stewards will decide and that time will likely come Wednseday.

The first turn collision couldn’t take away the luster of Will Power’s 25th victory in IndyCar completion. He is now in second place in his run for the season championship. A title he is defending in 2015, as illustrated by his running the coveted No. 1 on his Verizon car livery.

Juan Pablo Montoya is the series season points leader, helping his own cause by finishing third on Saturday.

_9SG9587The second place finisher was Graham Rahal, who somehow managed to overcome the aero issues that the Honda teams have been experiencing so far this season. Driving the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake entry for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Graham was runner-up for the second race in a row. “Pit stops were good, we were able to make some moves when we had to. I gave it everything I had, just as Barber (Motorsports Park on April 26), to catch Power. He was just a little too strong,” said Rahal, who has started 17th.

Team Co-owner Bobby Rahal said of his son Graham’s second-place finish: “He didn’t make any mistakes and you could tell he was driving hard, the pit stops were fabulous and here we are. It shows Alabama (Barber Motorsports Park) wasn’t a fluke, doesn’t it? This is a kid that’s got tremendous talent. He and the engineers are really clicking and I think it’s going to get stronger and stronger as the year goes on. This should move us up on the championship. I think we have more points this year than we had all of last year. Everybody’s clicking and what this does for your confidence is tremendous and a confident driver is the most powerful weapon you’ve got in your bag.”

17MH050915_1681As for Power, seeking to become the first driver to win on the road course and 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, his comments clearly showed his focus: “I’m halfway there. The Indy 500 is on my mind and I’m very determined to get it done. The first lap was as fast as the last lap. I was really happy with the tires all day – super consistent, super gripping. Honestly, I think it was staying ahead at the start and the restart and then it was managing that traffic and just the pit sequence. My crew did an awesome job and saved enough fuel there at the end with Graham (Rahal) coming hard and it was good to save fuel and go fast. Full credit goes to the Verizon guys. I’m really happy to win here at this awesome facility. I just want to get one two weeks from now. That is what I want. I was just waiting for a yellow or something today because that is how these races usually play out, but if you always put yourself in that position to win, eventually it is going to come. If you keep knocking on a door, it’s going to open. That is what happened today. I was very determined to start this month off really well and we got pole and we won. Now, we’ve got pole to aim for in the ‘500.’ That’s the aim. That’s what I want. Today was one of the most physical races that I’ve done. All of that preseason fitness, that’s really paid off today.”

“Team owner Roger Penske was clearly pleased with the progress his organization was making going into the Indianapolis 500: “It’s a credit to the whole team, the guys back at the shop, and the drivers have just been outstanding all season. I guess we’ve got nine poles in a row. What we’ve got to do is get one coming up next weekend. It’s a credit to the reliability. The Chevy engines were strong obviously, you could see that all day. Will Power had one of his best days, never missed a beat and was out front all day long. This bodes well for us as we move into Memorial Day (weekend for the Indianapolis 500).”

Teams returned Monday to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Indianapolis 500 practice. Qualifications are May 16-17.

Angies List GP of Indianapolis Box Score

Photos courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway


2015 — “ESPN Classic”

Indy 500 Marathon Telecast Schedule

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