Chicago (AFP) – Australia’s Will Power held off New Zealand’s Scott Dixon over the final 20 laps Saturday to win the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis for car owner Roger Penske’s 200th career triumph.
It was the third victory in four years for Power in the 85-lap feature on the 14-turn, 2.5-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in the final race before the 102nd edition of the Indianapolis 500 oval classic on May 27.
“It was an amazing race,” Power said. “I’ve never driven so hard for an entire race. I was 100 percent the whole time. I’m exhausted.”
The Aussie pole-sitter, who also won the event in 2015 and last year, went outside to pass Canadian rookie Robert Wickens for the lead on lap 50 and held him off again as they were side-by-side exiting the pit lane.
On a lap 64 restart, Wickens was passed for second by Dixon, who started 18th in the 24-car field.
But with every driver trying to conserve fuel to reach the finish line without stopping, the Kiwi could not overtake Power, settling for second with Wickens third and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais fourth.
“I had to save a lot of fuel at the end,” Power said. “Got some momentum. In ’15 I won this race and finished second in the 500. Hopefully this time I can do one better.”
Alexander Rossi was fifth, closing his gap on season points leader and fellow American Josef Newgarden to only two points after five of 17 races.
Dixon settled for his best finish of the season.
“Great to be finally on the podium this year. It has been a rough start,” Dixon said. “Hopefully we’ll get that one spot better in a couple weeks.”
Wickens found his first experience with having to nurse fuel to the finish line unpleasant.
“I’m a little bit gutted,” he said. “It was a stressful afternoon.”
Power enjoyed his Penske milestone victory, also his 30th IndyCar triumph over a decade in the series.
“It shows what sort of team Penske is,” Power said. “It’s a real honor to drive for Roger. He gives you the equipment to win. It has been a great 10 years.”
Penske, 81, enjoyed his 200th win and hopes to add to his legacy with a 17th Indy 500 triumph.
“To do it here at Indianapolis was terrific. Will did a great job,” said Penske. “This gives us a lot of momentum heading into the 500.”
Indy 500 practice begins Tuesday with qualifying next weekend.