Power Holds Off Herta for Victory; Dixon, Newgarden Going to Wire To Decide Title
INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, Oct. 3) – Will Power produced one of the most dominant performances of his career, leading wire-to-wire from the pole position in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to win the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2 on Saturday, Oct. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Though he led all 75 laps in the caution-free race, 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power didn’t cruise to a victory. In the final 10 laps, Power fended off a hard charging Colton Herta in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda, setting up an intense battle between the top two starters of the race for the socially distanced crowd at the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course.
RESULTS: INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2
Herta closed a 1.5-second gap with 10 laps to go down to as close as one-half second with five laps remaining, but Power managed to win by .8932 of a second.
“The tires were going away,” Power said. “It was a very tough battle. I had to work very hard to keep him (Colton Herta) behind. Marco (Andretti) didn’t make it easy. Just so happy to have Verizon and Chevy in Victory Lane again. Two Hondas trying to attack us there, but the Chevy had very good power and drivability.
“I’m over the moon to get another win, especially at this place. It was good not to get caught by a yellow or something strange like that. Great stops. We had a very good car; we improved on it from yesterday. Man, I just pushed so hard the whole race. Obviously, we had to save fuel, but you’re still pushing while lifting early into the corners. A fantastic day, fantastic day.”
Alexander Rossi finished third in the No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda to score his fourth straight podium finish of the season. Josef Newgarden finished fourth in the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, and Pato O’Ward rounded out the top five in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
Herta’s second-place result was his fourth career podium finish and second this season, along with his win at Mid-Ohio 2.
“The Capstone Green car was really good,” Herta said. “I’m happy to be powered by HPD, and obviously we had another Andretti 2-3, two cars on the podium, so I’m really excited about that. I just needed a little bit more time and a little bit more tire. (Power) was really fast. I don’t think I could have gotten him today, though.”
Power’s dominating day at Indianapolis was historic. He earned the 61st NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole of his career Saturday morning and inched closer to the legendary Mario Andretti’s record of 67 poles before scoring his 39th career Indy car win, tying him for fifth on the all-time INDYCAR wins list with four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser.
The win, which was the second wire-to-wire win in his career after he led every lap at Barber Motorsports Park in 2011, made him the winningest NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver on the IMS road course with four wins.
“Man, you talk about the names. Just amazing,” Power said. “These people are absolute legends of the sport, and I could have never imagined having my name among such unbelievable historic drivers. All of these guys I was a huge fan of when I was a kid. They’re kind of my heroes, so it’s really cool to have my name up there.”
Of the many on-track battles at the Racing Capital of the World, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points race was one of the most intense as points leader Scott Dixon tried to fend off Newgarden, who took a big chunk out of Dixon’s points lead by winning Friday’s INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1.
Dixon’s race got off to a nerve-wracking start after he started a disappointing 15th and had contact with Ryan Hunter Reay in the No. 28 DHL Honda in Turn 7. The contact resulted in damage to Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with a hole in the left-side undertray of the car.
Dixon powered through the day and managed to score a top-10 finish, crossing the line eighth. But his points lead shrunk yet again due to Newgarden’s top five. Newgarden gained eight points on Dixon and now sits 32 behind Dixon heading into the season finale Oct. 25 at St. Petersburg.
“It’s definitely been a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy,” said Dixon, who has lost 85 points from his lead since he had a 117-point gap after his most recent win on Aug. 29 at World Wide Technology Raceway. “I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points title comes down to the last race, and even without the double points like we’ve seen before.”
Dixon must finish eighth or better at St. Petersburg to clinch his sixth Astor Challenge Cup even if Newgarden scores all 54 points available for a victory, pole, leading one lap and leading the most laps.
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Dixon and two-time and reigning series champion Newgarden would be tied atop the standings if Newgarden scored maximum points and Dixon finished eighth. In that scenario, both drivers would have four victories this season, but Dixon would win the tiebreaker by virtue of his two second-place finishes this season, compared to one for Newgarden.
The season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg can be seen live on NBC Sunday, Oct. 25.
‘What They’re Saying’ from the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 2
1st – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The tires had gone away and it was a tough battle, and I had to work very hard to keep him (Colton Herta) behind. I am just so happy to have Verizon and Chevy in Victory Lane again. We had two Hondas trying to attack us there, but my Chevy had very good power and drivability, so just over the moon to get another win, especially at this place.”
2nd – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “I think I kind of left everything out there. I used up a lot of my tires trying to catch back up to those guys. We just didn’t really have it at the end. I think I burned up the rears a little bit too much to the point where Will (Power) could hold me back. I do think we were a little bit faster than him, but, unfortunately, we just didn’t put it together in the first stint until too far back, and that kind of hurt us going into the next two stints.”
3rd – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 AutoNation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “Ultimately, another good day. It was the best qualifying we’ve had all year, so it’s good to be able so start up front, finally. I think our pace through the first two stints was good. I think me, Will (Power) and Colton (Herta) were kind of in our own league, and it was kind of whoever could make the best last stint happen. We went with blacks (primary tire) because we thought it was a good option. We were the only car that did blacks on the last stint. Ultimately, we tried something different – I’m not mad about it – but it was the wrong tire choice. Did it cost us the win? Maybe not. Did it cost us second? Probably. But, ultimately, four races, four podiums, and we’re pretty happy.”
4th – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were a little shy of where we needed to be. If we had a phenomenal day like we had yesterday, we would be in really good shape. We were just mediocre today. I think we had a car to compete with Will (Power) and (Colton) Herta and (Alexander) Rossi up there, but we just didn’t start up there high enough. With the start, I got kind of buried on the inside and I tried to get as much as I could on the outside, but then Santino (Ferrucci) came in running tight – but he was fine. It just got tight, and I got pushed back a little too far. The key for us was being up higher earlier today. I just had to work for a lot just like Scott (Dixon) did. If we had a cleaner qualifying run, I think we really would have had a better day. I’m really thankful to Team Chevy. There were two wins for Team Chevy here this weekend. They did a phenomenal job, and obviously having Hitachi support is always big for us. Look, we’re in it with a shot. We’re going to go to St. Pete and try and win this championship. I just wish we were in a little closer position.”
5th – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We ended up where we started.We didn’t go backwards; we didn’t go forwards. I think we maximized absolutely everything we could out of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. Our black (primary) tire pace was where we really lost our chance at a podium. We have some work to do, but there’s one more race to go. We are going to try and get a win before the year ends. We are going to give it hell in St. Pete.”
6th – JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “I thought the pace that we had today was decent.We finished sixth and started seventh. The strategy was just about as good as it could have got. To come out of Indy with an eighth and a sixth, it maybe is a little less than what we might have hoped. But we’ve been so consistently qualified in the top 10 and racing in the top 10. Outside of a little bit of bad luck, I think we have finished quite well. Now we just need to figure out what steps we need to take to get to the podium.”
7th – GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “Another seventh-place finish. I’m disappointed from the standpoint that I thought yesterday the United Rentals car had good pace, but today we struggled a little. I think a lot of guys struggled more today, just for whatever reason. It was kind of a handful out there. We got two seventh-place finishes.We’re still sixth in the points and 22 behind Pato(O’Ward), so we’ve got to have a good weekend in St. Pete, and we can get into the topfive. But we were just missing it a little bit this weekend. We’ll work hard and try to figure it out and come back stronger. In the end, it was a good weekend for Turns for Troops and Soldier Strong with our United Rentals program. We raised a lot of money to help our veterans.”
8th – SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s definitely been a trying last few race weekends between Mid-Ohio and Indy. I’m still mad at myself for making that mistake at Mid-Ohio and letting those points get away. As always, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points title comes down to the last race, and even without the double points like we’ve seen before. I’m just really proud of this PNC Bank team and everyone who works so hard to win. Honda has been pushing hard, and we’re always proud to be powered by them along with HPD. Congrats to Will(Power) and Josef (Newgarden) on the wins here. That’s what we’ll be trying to do in St. Petersburg.”
9th – ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “It was a good day with the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda. Qualifying went well this morning. We improved a lot from yesterday. We did a risky strategy of doing two sets of Firestone reds, and it paid off. Our target for the race was to finish in the top 10, and we did. It was the first time for me doing a fuel strategy race like this, and it worked out, so I’m happy. This is where I think we belong, in the top 10, so hopefully we can finish out the season with another good result in a few weeks.”
10th – SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a big weekend for Team Penske. Will(Power) did a great job today, and congratulations to him for the win. We worked hard today for a top-10 finish with the DXC Technology Chevrolet, and it was a good way for us to end the weekend. With another good finish today by Josef (Newgarden), Team Penske has a chance to race for the championship at St. Pete, so we’re all looking forward to the finale and a good result there.”
Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):
MARCO ANDRETTI (Finished 22nd – No. 98 AutoNation / Curb Honda): “2020 continues to be challenging for us. We’re just focusing forward to St. Pete and doing all we can to end the season on a good result.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (Finished 18th – No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It was a pretty trying weekend, not where we want to be, but it’s just the beginning of the relationship. We’re hoping to build something and prepare as best as possible for next year. In some respects, we achieved that. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but if it was easy, I may not be here. We have a lot to think about, a lot to go through and analyze and see what may explain what we’ve experienced this weekend. Starting from where we started today makes things very difficult, but we were on the right strategy with the two-stopper because everyone who had a halfway-decent day was on the two-stop strategy. Passing was once again extremely difficult. Just a shame we got caught up in some guys’ messes when they tangled and got back on track like (Marcus) Ericsson running off the track and making us lose a couple of positions. We never could recover from that because passing was so difficult. At the end of the day, live and learn. Everybody tried real hard. The mechanics did a great job throwing all the changes that we wanted to try at the car, and that was quite a bit all weekend long. We’ll keep working at it and move forward.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Finished 21st – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The result doesn’t show how much work everyone from Arrow McLaren SP put into this weekend to make sure I was comfortable. We tried a different strategy, and even if the strategy wasn’t right, it was right for me because I could push and understand more of the car on reds (alternate tires). I wish we could have another qualifying and race tomorrow. I can’t thank Sam (Schmidt), Ric (Peterson), Zak (Brown) and Arrow McLaren SP enough for an amazing job. The car is in one piece, which is great. Great experience. Hopefully Oliver (Askew) continues to look after his health.”
MAX CHILTON (Finished 19th – No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a really tough day out there today. We had an issue on the start where we got blocked and lost quite a few spots, but thankfully we were able to make them up throughout the race. We just really struggled on blacks (primary tires).The reds (alternate tires) were manageable, but the blacks had zero grip. I just didn’t feel like I could be as aggressive today as I was yesterday, so unfortunately we weren’t as competitive as we were in Race 1. Even with the fuel saving, we were still able to make up positions throughout the race, especially when we were on the reds. Obviously, I wish we could’ve improved today and gotten a top 10, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us.”
CONOR DALY (Finished 20th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “As I made a move into Turn 1 on Lap 2, we had a glitch and lost the throttle for a couple of seconds. I had to fall back to last, but honestly from then on, we had really good pace. Our second stint on new reds (alternate tires) was great; we got up to 14th from dead last. We were making great progress but couldn’t maintain the speed on the last set of used reds. The 41 car (Dalton Kellett) blocked us pretty aggressively and was not very sportsmanlike, which was a shame. We just had to hang on to the finish.”
MARCUS ERICSSON (Finished 15th – No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “That race was just a complete mess, to be honest. From the start, I got hit three or four times in the first couple laps from every side of the car and from behind and got put on the grass, as well. That really set the tone to the race. It was a shame because the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda felt good, but it was just a mess. Then, in the second stint, I spent most of the race fighting with (Takuma) Sato. I couldn’t get by him. He was defending like crazy for P15 and ruined both of our races, to be honest. I don’t really understand that tactic because I think both of us suffered massively from that. That was a shame. Otherwise, a top 10 would have been possible. With half of the race fighting with Sato, it just ruined our tires and push to pass. It was very disappointing.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI (Finished 12th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “We had another phenomenal start to the race in the SealMaster Honda, moving up almost into the top-five. After the start we struggled on the used red (alternate) tires and we weren’t so great on the black (primary) tires. I think we had a little too much front wing. It just wasn’t the same as yesterday. Once we put the new reds on, everything seemed to make more sense with the car. Now we’ll head to St. Petersburg for the final race and see if we can end the season on a high note.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (Finished 13th – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “It seems like an awful lot of work to only pick up one spot (in points), but with the race length the way it was, and the fuel situation the way it was, everyone was kind of in a similar boat. It was just how and when you use your tires. I think we did a good job in that sense. We had a lot of good races with guys out there. I got bumped off track by Santino (Ferrucci) at one point, which definitely cost a bit of time, and held up by some lapped cars at one point. Ultimately, it was a pretty lock-step race. I’m just happy to bring the Gainbridge car home is a somewhat reasonable position, and it gives us something to build off of for St. Pete.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (Finished 16th – No. 28 DHL Honda): “Tough day overall. We gambled on a strategy that just fell on its head. We took a roll of the dice on the three-stopper, and it just didn’t pan out. It was a day full of taking risks – starting on blacks (primary tires), going with the three-stop strategy – but none of it panned out for us. It’s similar to 2020 in a nutshell.”
SAGE KARAM (Finished 24th – No. 24 Dryer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet): “While the results didn’t show it today, our Oil2Soil Chevy was much better in qualifying and the race from Thursday and Friday. We made some changes overnight that helped the race car. It’s tough out there. We ran P3 in qualifying today, and I pulled into the pits and looked at the time sheet, and I’m 11th. Wow, this series is very difficult. In the race, we tried the Firestone red(alternate) tires, and the car wasn’t as good as on the Firestone blacks (primary tires). Later in the race, I was running very competitive laps, but we lost a lot early. Our pit stops were very good today. The big thing for the DRR team, who is just getting back into road racing after a seven-year layoff, is that we learned quite a bit with the doubleheader race weekend. We lost some valuable time on Thursday in practice when we had a fuel pressure issue. But we will take the info and study it for the future races.”
DALTON KELLETT (Finished 25th – No. 41 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Definitely not the way we wanted to end the season for the No. 41 K Line Insulators USA crew. We thought we were looking pretty good going into the race with the two new sets of Firestone alternates (tires). When we went to sticker reds, we didn’t quite have the pace and it just seemed like the car couldn’t quite take the extra little bit of aggression to try to get that next few tenths out of it. Had a couple mistakes in (Turn) 1 trying to push the brakes out a little bit deeper but getting front lock-up, so that really hurt us having to take the run-off road there. At the end of the day, we didn’t quite have the pace or the consistency to pull off the strategy that we were trying to go for, which was a bummer for the team. I think we’ve worked really hard all season and we’ve definitely made improvements, but obviously today showed there’s some work that we have to do. We have to sit down and think really hard over what’s been good about the changes that we’ve made so far and what hasn’t worked and come up with a plan from there.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (Finished 23rd – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Honestly, kind of a frustrating day. We made the decision strategically to do something different than the 14 (Sebastien Bourdais) and something different than the 41 (Dalton Kellett). We started on used alternate Firestones. The pace just wasn’t great. The second stint on our first set of primes (tires), we just really struggled to find lap time, so from yesterday to today we seemed to have gotten a little outside the window. I don’t know if it was weather conditions, track conditions or just the tires we had left after using a little more on yesterday’s race, but going for the three-stop we had to make really good lap time, and we struggled with a little bit during the second stint of the race. But at the end, the lap times weren’t bad on the third and fourth stints. We just need to figure out how to make the car better in qualifying so we don’t have to throw Hail Mary’s.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST (Finished 11th – No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I will have to look at what happened at the start. I had a really good run into Turn 1, got around Turn 1 well.Then in Turn 2, someone dive-bombed me on the inside. I think it was (Santino) Ferrucci or someone. I just lost four or five spots immediately. Then I came behind (Scott) Dixon, and he was on blacks (primary tires). Obviously, we didn’t want to fight him. Pretty much the whole race went away there because that was supposed to be our good stint with the new reds (alternate tires). Then I had contact with (Charlie) Kimball. I’m not sure what he was doing. I think he was struggling with his peripheral vision. It was just not really our race after that with the NTT DATA car.”
TAKUMA SATO (Finished 14th – No. 30 Keihin Honda): “It was a hard race today. Once again there were no yellows, so it was very difficult to make up positions, and strategy-wise it was almost fixed. We fought almost all the race long, and in the end, we gained some positions. One guy pushed me off to the grass, which was a shame because we lost a few positions. But in the end, we finished 14th after a hard battle, which was a little frustrating but at least we raced hard today.”
RINUS VEEKAY (Finished 17th – No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “Way different race than yesterday. I wish there had been some kind of yellow so we could have done something. Two stints on blacks (primary tires) — that was tough. We were not quick on the blacks yesterday, and that did not change for today. The last stint on reds was pretty OK. We just had some unfortunate things happen today. I wasn’t completely happy with the handling of the car, but we didn’t get the set up quite right – it happens! Everyone gave 100 percent, including me, and that just wasn’t enough today. Let’s head to St. Pete and send it!”