September 25, 2022

In an intriguing race that combined strategy and speed, Will Power took his first win of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, fending off Alexander Rossi to win the Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit presented by Lear on Sunday.

Power used a two-stop strategy to perfection in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy, warding off a charging Rossi-on a three-stop strategy in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda. Power led 55 of 70 laps in a race that ended in caution.

SEE: Race results | Race Highlights

Team Penske opted for a different strategy to try and help Power get into track position on the bumpy and tight temporary street circuit from his 16th starting position. Power rode the final 20 laps on alternate “red” Firestone tires, which initially have more grip but quickly lose traction over time. Rossi was on the more durable and consistent Firestone “black” primary tires for his final stint.

“I drove it as straight as possible,” Power said of his tire-preserving strategy over the final 20 laps. “I never put a slip (angle) in it. I was just driving really straight and really good on the brakes and throttle. I knew that if I could keep a reasonable gap until the end, everything would be fine.

Power’s victory was the 41st of his INDYCAR SERIES career and the first since August 2021, when he triumphed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Its win today was also the 100th for a Chevrolet engine since the 2.2-litre V6 engine era began in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2012.

Australian native Power also returned to the series leading by three points on Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson.

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon finished third on the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to round out the podium on the 14-turn, 2.35-mile course. This is the last time the INDYCAR SERIES will compete at Belle Isle Park Raceway, as the event will move to the streets of downtown Detroit in 2023.

NTT P1 Award winner Josef Newgarden finished fourth in the #2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet to place two Team Penske cars in the top four. Pato O’Ward finished fifth in the #5 Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP.

The teams deployed different tire and fuel strategies almost as soon as the green flag dropped.

Andretti Autosport called Rossi into the pits after just four laps to remove the ‘red’ Firestone tires and affix the more durable ‘black’ tyres, choosing a three-stop strategy. All drivers must complete at least one lap per race on the primary and alternate tires as per NTT INDYCAR SERIES rules.

Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing chose a different route for Power and Dixon, respectively, opting for two-stop races. But there was variety even among this option.

Power started the race on primary tires and didn’t run a second pair of “blacks” until lap 26. He stayed on those tires before switching to mandatory “reds” on lap 51 for the final 20 laps. of the race.

Dixon started with primaries and switched to alternate tires on lap 27. He made these grippy, but less durable tires last until he returned to primaries on his second and final pit stop on lap 45 .

Meanwhile, Rossi had stopped for the primary tires on laps 25 and 47, completing his team’s three-stop strategy.

When Power came out of the pits on lap 51 after his final stop, he trailed Rossi by 16.079 seconds. He also had nearly twice as much pushing time left to pass as Rossi.

The hunt was on.

Rossi closed the gap to 12.128 seconds with 10 laps to go, facing a daunting challenge of making up more than 1.2 seconds per lap to catch Power, let alone pass him. A late warning period would have done this dirty work for Rossi, who started 11th, but it never came.

Still, it looked like Rossi might take a break with eight laps to go when Power closed in on Jack Harvey’s No. 45 Honda Hy-Vee, which was racing at the end of the lead lap. Knowing the risks of trying to pass Harvey on degrading alternative tyres, Power wisely stayed just behind the Englishman and handled the turbulence and his tires in a deft display of skill.

The gap narrowed to 7.7 seconds with five laps to go as more degradation from the less durable alternative tire began to take its toll. With three laps to go, Rossi was back in 6.5 seconds.

Then, with one lap to go, the gap was 2.8 seconds. Rossi managed to squeeze another 1.8 seconds off on the final high-speed trip around Belle Isle for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, but ran out of laps to get close enough to Power to try for a game-winning pass.

The race ended on bail when Rinus VeeKay crashed on the final lap for the #21 BitCoin Racing team with BitNile Chevrolet just as the checkered flag unfurled over Power and Rossi. It was the only cautious period of the race.

“I think one more lap would have been really interesting,” Rossi said. “But you have to give the 12 guys and Will credit. It’s hard to do in the end, to hang on. It was a good recovery from yesterday. The strategy was good.

The win came a year after heartbreak in that same event for Power. He led late in the first race of the Belle Isle double last year when the race was red-flagged due to an accident, and his car did not re-fire in the pits when the race ended. resumed, leaving the lead to the eventual winner Ericsson.

“Very enjoyable race because you had to cut through the pack and fight hard,” Power said. “It’s just a redemption from last year. I was just waiting for something to happen these last 10 laps, but I just stayed focused on the laser.

The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES event is Sunday, June 11, the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Live coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network.