The Positive Thinking of Power

“When you work hard at something it eventually comes to you,” Will Power said at his Sunday afternoon press conference. He credit this approach to his determination in the closing laps of the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Winning the 500 had run through his head more than ever over the last year, he said. It was. “The last box to check on his career, which includes an Indycar Series championship won after several close calls. Again working hard will eventually get you what you want.

The race was an intriguing event. It was difficult to pass, as expected, but drivers liked that the outcome was more in their hands. Some teams, Scott Dixon and Robert Wickens, tried alternate pit strategies which were hurt by the timing of the caution periods. Power, on a normal pit cycle, was in the right spot in the end to take advantage of those who gambled.

Ed Carpenter and Power had the strongest cars all day. Carpenter led 65 laps and Power led 59. No one else led more than 19. Tony Kanaan looked to be a third factor until a cut tire forced an extra stop. He had worked his way back to ninth, then crashed on lap 189, setting up the dramatic finish and near storybook ending.

Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, and Jack Harvey gambled there would be another yellow and they would be able to save enough fuel to go the distance. Servia led the field to the green on lap 193 and was quickly passed by Wilson and Harvey. Wilson led the next three laps, which sent a buzz through the crowd. The two leaders pulled into the pits for fuel on lap 196, hand Power the lead and the victory.

The usually stoic Power was one of the happiest winners in Victory Lane in many years. “I started screaming on the white flag lap,” he said. Tim Cindric corroborated that.

Notes

Power’s win was the first for a front row starter since Dario Franchitti won from third in 2010. It was Team Penske’s first 500 win since Juan Pablo Montoya won his third in 2015.

There were 30 lead changes, many on pit cycles. While we didn’t see constant passes for the lead, I thought it made each pass more genuine and a result of driving and not equipment packages.

Alexander Rossi had another march from the back of the field. His fourth place finish from a last row start was one of the highlights of the day. He also charged from the back to get a podium at Phoenix after a pit penalty. Rossi is now two points behind Power in the series championship.

Graham Rahal continues his season of starting in the back and getting to the top 10. Yesterday he finished tenth from his 30th starting spot. I’m sure he’s looking forward to Detroit where he dominated the weekend last year.

Danica Patrick’s career ended with a crash on lap 68. It was the only the second time she has not finished the race. Patrick had always done well at the Speedway, including being the first woman to lead.

Helio Castroneves spun and crashed on lap 146. I’m not sure if he will return next year. If he does, 2019 may be his last time to try for win number 4

Power is the first driver to win the Indycar Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year.

What is Up with the Pre-Race?

For a couple of years now I have become annoyed with the pace of the pre race ceremonies. This year I thought they were longer and more drawn out than ever. It seemed as if parts were out of order as well. These ceremonies used to be compact, flowing and built the tension leading to the start. I don’t get that feeling or the goosebumps I used to get during this part of the day.

The Speedway has found its new singer for “(Back Home Again in) Indiana”. It was another great performance by Jim Cornelison. Please keep him.

The highlight was playing a recording of Jim Phiilipe’s homage to veterans which preceded taps. It was wonderful to hear that again, but the moment was ruined when instead of following it immediately with “Taps”, the invocation was next, followed by an ABC commercial break, then “Taps.” A solemn moment was ruined.

The last straw was Tony George giving the command, “Drivers, start your engines” for the second year in a row. I’m not sure if I heard the engines or if the sound was Tony Hulman spinning in his grave. Please, IMS, give the traditional (Ladies) and Gentlemen, start your engines command. Drivers, start your engines is fine for every other race on the schedule.

I will close with a couple more photos from yesterday. I have more stories of the month this week before the series moves to Detroit.

(Left) Will Power’s car om pit lane race morning.

(Right) Power waits to take questions from the press.

All photos: Mike Silver

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Carb Day- Lots of Laps and a Great Indy Lights Race

I’m not sure we know any more about how the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 will go tomorrow after watching the Carb Day session. 1,273 laps of mostly strung out running should help drivers get a feel for Sunday’s similar weather conditions. The four fastest yesterday- Tony Kanaan 227.791, Scott Dixon 225.684, Marco Andretti 225.220, and Sebastien Bourdais 224.815, could be the group from which  the winner comes.  The race will come down to track position in the last40 laps and who makes the right tire calls on the last stop.

Danica Patrick had an electrical problem early in the session and only ran 15 laps. Her second lap was the eighth quickest. She did get on track during the final 10 minutes. The session was halted briefly for a track inspection. No cars had an on track incident.

Polesitter Ed Carpenter Ran 30 laps with a best time of 223.219, 14th fastest. Teammate Spencer Pigot had the 9th fastest time, 223.584. Overall, a decent day for the Carpenter team. Can they put it all together on race Day? That has been the one glitch in their 500 program.

Graham Rahal ran the most laps, 51, as he still looks for a good pace. The rest of the top five in laps run were Carlos Munoz, 49; Jay Howard, Helio Castroneves, Stefan Wilson, and Sage Karam 48 each; Josef Newgarden, 47. Of the high laps run group, Karam was quickest with the 12th best lap at 223.278.

We will begin to get answers in 15 and half hours from the time I’m writing this.

Herta Wins Exciting Freedom 100

When engines fired for the Indy Lights Freedom 100, I joked to my friend Brad that the race starts in 38 laps. This race has produced extremely close, four wide finishes with great racing in the last two laps. I was wrong. The small field raced every lap as if it were the final lap.

Twenty lead changes in a 40 lap race is unprecedented. Dalton Kellett, the polesitter, had the longest stretch in the lead, from lap 21-25. Colton Herta, who started sixth, took the lead on lap 39 and held off Patricio O’Ward by 0,0281 seconds. Yes that was close, but it is not in top four closest margins in Freedom 100 history.

The Day in Photos

Here are some photos from yesterday. Remember to rest tonight (Ha) get to the track early, and drink lots of water. Enjoy the race.

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Colton Herta takes the lead during the Freedom 100.

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Danica Patrick returns to the track after a trip to the garage to repair electrical problems.

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Pit road is always busy on Carb Day.

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James Davison leads Takuma Sato in turn 1.

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Spencer Pigot leaves his pit box.

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Pit stop practice for Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter.

The Day in Photos; Pit Lane Parley Comes to IMS

As promised (threatened?) Herb are some photos from practice Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Enjoy.  Practice resumed after an approximately 45 minute hold for impending weather. Practice resumed at 4:50 pm.

 

Pit Lane Parley Live at Indy

Pit Lane Parley will record two weekly podcasts and perhaps some other features from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the 500 approaches. I will post when their shows will be recorded. Pit Lane Parley broadcasts live on wildfireradioesports.com every Friday at 3:15 pm EDT. You can listen to the podcasts on Podbean as well. Mike, Jess, and occasional host Matt provide excellent insight on Indycar. Guests this season have included Jay Frye, Stefan Wilson, David Byrd, and Brian Belardi.