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Power “drove as straight as I could” to nurse tyres to victory

IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix winner Will Power says that looking after his soft alternate tyres at the start of his final stint was key to him hanging on for victory.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Art Fleischmann

Power started 16th on the grid, but ran Firestone’s primary tyres in his opening stint, while the majority of his rivals went for alternates, which could lose some five seconds of pace over the course of a full stint. That persuaded Alexander Rossi to keep his first stint very short, although his car was fast enough to allow him to climb into the top four from 11th on the grid.

Power passed the struggling Newgarden to take the lead by Lap 14, having passed several cars – crucially including Scott Dixon on the same strategy – and seeing three-stopping cars such as Rossi pitting early.

Power then remained out front and pulled a five second lead on Dixon by the time he pitted on Lap 25. While Dixon and Palou went for reds in their middle stint, Power, race engineer Dave Faustino and strategist Ron Ruzewski had elected to save their reds to the final stint, when there was more rubber on the track, hopefully easing the dropoff.

When Power stopped on Lap 50, his lead over Rossi, who had carved past Dixon and Palou was 20s, and once he emerged from the pits and completed an out lap it was 16s with 19 laps to go.

Power then looked after his tyres at the start of the stint to eke out more tyre life, keeping his laps some 1sec off his full potential.

“I just drove it as straight as I could, never put any slip in it,” he told NBC of reducing the lateral load through the more fragile rubber. “I was just driving it really straight and really nice on the brakes and throttle.

“I knew that if I could keep a reasonable gap to the end I’d be OK, but I was a bit worried because I saw how badly [the reds] die, but there was a lot of rubber on the track at the end.

“A stellar job by the team and a very enjoyable race as I chopped through the field, fighting hard, and good passing.”

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda, Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, podium

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda, Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, podium

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Power, who has now moved to the top of the points table as he was pre-Indy 500, said it avenged his loss at the same track last year, when he was leading but his car wouldn’t re-fire after a late red-flag period.

“Really stoked to get the Verizon 5G Chevy into Victory Lane,” he said. “It’s redemption from last year. I was just waiting for something to happen in those last 10 laps!

“I just stayed laser focused, hitting my marks. A very good performance mentally from me: I really left nothing on the table and got right into that sweet spot of the zone. That’s why I was able to pump out those really quick laps.”

The 41st win of Power's career was also Chevrolet's 100th in the 2.2-litre era. 

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