Will Power spent this week seeking redemption.
He found it in a familiar spot — on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.
Just six days after enduring one of the most frustrating races of his career, Power took an early lead, pulled away from the field and held on for his first IndyCar victory of the season, defeating Romain Grosjean to the yard of bricks by 1.1142 seconds.
“Big relief, big relief, especially for my guys on the team,” Power said. “I just told myself, ‘I’m getting this bloody restart, there’s no way I’m giving this race away.’ “
It was a milestone trip to victory lane, too.
His 40th career win broke a tie with Al Unser for fifth on the series’ all-time list. Power also matched NASCAR star Kyle Busch’s record for wins at IMS, the speedway and road course combined, with his sixth. Busch has four wins in the Xfinity Series and two in Cup on the famed Brickyard oval. Power, who won the 2018 Indianapolis 500, has won five times on the road course, equaling the mark former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher set in the U.S. Grand Prix.
And the Australian, who started second, desperately needed this one.
Last weekend at Nashville, Power finished 14th, squeezing one teammate, Simon Pagenaud, into a wall early in the race and later colliding with another teammate, Scott McLaughlin.
“Certainly, the incident with McLaughlin was not good,” Power said. “I didn’t see Roger (Penske) after the race. I thought, ‘I need to win a race before I speak to him again.’ Fortunately, I did that.”
It came with some consternation.
After building a 9.5-second lead midway through the race, Power got hung up in traffic as Grosjean and Colton Herta chased him. Both closed to fewer than four seconds when the first of two late cautions came out because points leader Alex Palou of Spain appeared to blow an engine.
That bunched up the lead pack and gave both cars an opportunity to pass. Herta never got close on the restart on Lap 71.
“I don’t really think we had anything for Power or Grosjean, so we’re happy with third,” Herta said.
Instead, Power started pulling away again only to see another yellow come out.
This time, Power got a huge jump, and with Grosjean out of the extra push-to-pass boost, nobody got close to the 2014 series champ.
“I thought it was a good fight,” said Grosjean, who finished second for the second straight time on Indy’s road course. “He went early and we just couldn’t quite keep up with him.”
American Alexander Rossi was fourth and Mexico’s Pato O’Ward, the pole-winner, finished fifth – well behind Power, who led 56 of 85 laps and finally got to celebrate.
“Roger loves when you win, let me tell you,” he said. “He loves it.”