It will look like a rout in the box score – started on pole and led every lap – but Will Power has never worked harder for a victory than he did Saturday afternoon in the second race of the Harvest Grand Prix.
Power had to call on his all talent and experience to hold off 20-year-old Colton Herta by a few car lengths in his Verizon Chevy and claim his fourth road course win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The @IndyCar championship will be decided at the @GPSTPete!@12WillPower WINS Race 2 of the #HarvestGP at @IMS, while @JosefNewgarden makes up more ground on championship leader @ScottDixon9! pic.twitter.com/LErbQwyXmd
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) October 3, 2020
The 39-year-old Aussie owned a three-second lead on Alex Rossi and eight-second advantage on Herta after their second and final pit stops with 23 laps to go. The leader and third-place runner were on scuffed red tires while Rossi went with sticker blacks and, in yet another race with no cautions, the deciding factor was keeping those Firestones under you on a track full of marbles.
Herta out-braked Rossi going into Turn 1 on Lap 64 to grab second place and then set sail for Power but just didn’t have quite enough to ever try for a winning pass.
“The tires had gone away and it was a tough battle, I had to work hard to keep Herta behind me,” said Power, whose 39th win tied him with Al Unser on the all-time list. “We had two Hondas trying to attack us, but my Verizon Chevy had good power and drive-ability.”
Cheers to today’s #HarvestGP podium! 🥂
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) October 3, 2020
Herta, who started second in the Gleaner’s/Capstone Honda, continued to display his amazing race craft for such a young man.
“We needed a little more tire but Will was really fast and I couldn’t get him,” said the second regeneration driver who earned his first podium other than a win (he’s got three). “But another good day for Andretti Autosport.”
In scoring his fourth consecutive podium, Rossi took a gamble on that last stint.
“We gave it a try but I’m not sure anyone had anything for Will today,” said the 2016 Indy 500 winner who started third in the AutoNation Honda.
The championship picture got a little tighter heading for the finale in St. Pete later this month as Josef Newgarden closed to within 32 points of Scott Dixon.
“We didn’t start high enough today, so we wound up a little shy of where we needed to be; but we’ve still got a shot,” said Newgarden, who started ninth and finished fourth after winning on Friday in the Hitachi Chevy.
Shooting for his sixth IndyCar title, Dixon qualified 15th and overcame a couple of collisions to run eighth in the PNC Honda.
“I was loose the whole race and I collided with Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and maybe Charlie (Kimball), so the championship is going to come down to the final race as usual,” said the 40-year-old Kiwi.
Pato O’Ward drove a nice, tidy race to claim fifth, while Jack Harvey took sixth and Graham Rahal seventh.