Power happy for Roger Penske after poor showing at Indy 500

Will Power says he’s pleased for Roger Penske that he and Josef Newgarden gave Team Penske-Chevrolet a clean-sweep of Harvest GP wins after the team’s troubled Indianapolis 500.

Power’s victory today lifted him to joint fifth in IndyCar’s all-time list, he and Al Unser (Sr.) each having scored 39 wins. This pair are led by AJ Foyt (67), Mario Andretti (52), current points leader Scott Dixon (50) and Michael Andretti (42).

The win does, however, make Power the most successful driver at the Brickyard, having scored one Indy 500 triumph and four wins on the Indy road course.

“It doesn’t compare to the 500,” said Power afterward. “I would take a 500 win any day! Maybe another 500 win for a couple of those road course wins.

“But it’s an amazing place, so much history, so many amazing drivers have come through here, so any time you win anything here, it’s pretty special.

“Now Roger owns it. I’ve had a good relationship with Roger for the 12 years that I’ve been in his team. With how the 500 went for us this year, I was very happy that our team cars won two races this weekend.”

Power described today’s caution-free race as “intense the whole time,” despite leading from pole position to checkered flag, as he had to fend off Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi, who eventually claimed second and third places respectively.

Said Power: “Obviously we had to save fuel, but we were pushing really hard every lap to pull a gap enough to be covered if someone went one lap longer in the pit stop sequence.

“There was a lot of pressure from Alex in the second stint, then a lot of pressure from Alex at the beginning of the third stint, then Colton put a lot of pressure on all the way to the end.

“I really had nothing left. That was everything I had there at the end. Fortunately I could hold them off.”

Power was displeased with another Andretti Autosport-Honda driver, Marco Andretti, holding him up as he came to lap him, and costing him two seconds of his 3.5sec lead over Rossi in the third and final stint.

“Obviously there was a bit of lapped traffic playing some games there, which I didn’t really appreciate too much…

“It was pretty intense because you had cars in front of you. That was the biggest problem… Just lapped traffic. I think we’re the only series in the world that lapped traffic can actually race you. Insane. Insane.”

Asked what could be changed, Power replied simply: “The rules! Get them out of the way!

“You work your backside off to be racing at the front. For someone to race you when they’re a lap down because they’ve done a bad job is just terrible.”

Power admitted that the 75-lap race had been nowhere near as entertaining as Friday’s 85-lap thriller and put the relative dearth of passing maneuvers today not on the severe rubber marbles offline but on the race length.

While 85 laps made Friday’s race a simple three-stopper with no fuel worries so tire life became the deciding factor, 75 laps meant it could be completed on two stops if drivers saved fuel pretty much from the start of the race. Going hard and making three-stops was a less favorable option – adopted only by Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves – due to the huge 37-second pit delta.

However, using push-to-pass, which increases the turbo boost from 150kPa to 165kPa, consumes a considerable amount of ethanol, and therefore drivers were wary in the Saturday race of ruining their fuel consumption targets.

“No one could use push-to-pass because unfortunately we had to get a fuel number. Everyone really had to save fuel, lifting [off the throttle early]. No one could attack.

“It certainly made for, yeah, a more boring race. I liked that, but…”

Asked if he would prefer IndyCar to adopt the drag reduction system used by Formula 1 rather than push-to-pass, Power replied: “My take is that we can create a lot more passing by having a ‘push to pass’ lockout system. We actually have the technology to do it. [It is currently used in Indy Lights].

“So if you get within one second of the car in front, it locks his ‘push to pass’ out, he can’t use it [in retaliation]. I feel like that’s what we should do on a short oval like Gateway to create passing – and maybe even Texas and some of the superspeedways. [Push to pass isn’t currently used on ovals].

“On some of the tracks that have short straights, like St. Pete, Mid-Ohio, they should try and implement it. I think they would see some really good racing.”

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