Power picture perfect claiming Mid-Ohio Race 1 victory

Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Power picture perfect claiming Mid-Ohio Race 1 victory

IndyCar

Power picture perfect claiming Mid-Ohio Race 1 victory

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Will Power put on a clinic at Mid-Ohio on Saturday to win with ease from pole position in the No. 12 Team Penske Chevy. The Australian controlled the 75-lap contest from the moment the green flag waved after getting the jump on front-row rival Ryan Hunter-Reay, to lead a Penske 1-2 finish with a 7.4-second margin of victory over teammate Josef Newgarden.

Power’s flawless performance came on the day where he earned the 60th pole of his career and 38th win – his first since Portland 2019, and first at the beloved Ohio road course.

“It’s been a pretty trying year,” Power said. “That’s probably the first race I reckon in about 10 years where I’ve just gone hard. ‘Screw this, we don’t want to get caught by a yellow, just use raw pace’, and it worked. Just a flawless day.

“It’s just great to tick the Mid-Ohio box. Finally converted one. Over the moon.”

Where Power was overjoyed to finally join his teammates in the win column, Newgarden was equally pleased to cut into the sizable points advantage held by championship leader Scott Dixon. Thanks to Dixon’s distant run to 10th at the checkered flag, Newgarden’s 94-point deficit heading into the Honda Indy 200 doubleheader was reduced to 76 points. With four races remaining on the calendar, the reigning series champion did a near-perfect job of taking the fight to the Chip Ganassi Racing driver at Round 1.

“It was a pretty straightforward day,” Newgarden said. “Lucky to get by Ryan at the start. Wish we could have been a little bit better. Could tell all day I was fighting for second. We picked up some good points (but) one step higher would have been a really good difference.”

Andretti’s Alexander Rossi was the craftiest driver in the field, turning a sixth-place qualifying performance into third overall after running shorter than the field on one pit stop, and longer than others to leapfrog a number of drivers – including his teammate Hunter-Reay. Although he’s not in the championship hunt, adding a second podium of the year felt normal amid an otherwise-forgettable season.

“It’s good,” he said. “We just haven’t had a lot of things go our way. Starting P6 was a big challenge, but nonetheless, it was a good day for us.”

A third-place finish, up from sixth at the start, was a bright spot for Rossi in an otherwise forgettable season. Image by Cantrell/Motorsport Images

Behind Rossi, Graham Rahal wore out the back of the No. 27 Honda as he made repeated dives and thrusts to try and remove third from the Andretti driver’s grasp. Despite his bravery, the home state favorite was resigned to cross the finish line in fourth.

Hunter-Reay, Ganassi’s best on the day – Felix Rosenqvist – and a fine effort from Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey claimed fifth through seventh.

“Pit stops were fast, strategy was good, but difficult to get by and play the fuel game,” Rahal said. “I gave Alex as much as I could.”

The top rookie performer of the day was Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, who pulled off the pass of the race on his Gateway protagonist, Colton Herta, to claim eighth. Chasing Herta and a defending Dalton Kellett on the race to Turn 4, VeeKay got the A.J. Foyt Racing driver and kept going, motoring around the outside of a surprised Andretti driver, to get two cars at once.

“It was a tough race; really sketchy out there,” VeeKay said. “Then I got around Colton and Kellett; I thought it was going to be busy with Dalton, (but) then I thought, ‘Let’s do it.’ There’s a lot of grip on the outside. It was awesome.”

Other than Simon Pagenaud colliding with Marco Andretti and spinning at the Keyhole, and Andretti adding another off later in the race at the same corner, the race was clean and free of cautions. The field returns Sunday morning for another round of qualifying and a swift move into Round 2 to close the event.

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