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Power returns to victory lane in thrilling race - Grand Prix of Road America IndyCar report

Written by Dan Jones

Credit: James Black

Linus Lundqvist led the field to green ahead of Colton Herta, with the Swedish Rookie taking a first career pole in a thrilling wet-dry qualifying session, after the Fast Six ended early after Josef Newgarden suffered a terrifying accident at 'The Kink', but thankfully walked away from his Team Penske-Chevrolet unhurt.

Lundqvist would take Turn 1 in first place, but there would be drama from the start, as Lundqvist's teammate, Marcus Armstrong tagged the back of the Swede sending them both into a spin on the racing line. Behind them, Colton Herta was hit by Josef Newgarden and also spun, meaning the top three on the grid found themselves backwards before Turn 2. Graham Rahal also found himself off in the first turn in a separate incident, where he was hit by Luca Ghiotto. Armstrong and Ghiotto would later be penalised for avoidable contact.

The Turn 1 carnage saw best navigated by Kyle Kirkwood, who cycled to the front ahead of Scott McLaughlin and Alexander Rossi. Pato O'Ward, who had gone on the grass to avoid the accident, was able to move to his preferred strategy, dropping the red tyres which were expected to wear very quickly, the Mexican moving onto the blacks early on - as he had wished. However, O'Ward did not fulfil the requirement of running two laps on the alternates, meaning he'd have to return to the tyres later on.

Lundqvist's lead wouldn't last long. Credit: Joe Skibinski

Scott McLaughlin would swoop around Kirkwood on the restart and take the lead on Lap 4. However the caution would come out almost immediately again for debris from the #26 Andretti of Colton Herta, as he ran wide onto the kerb on the exit of Turn 1, after colliding with Lundqvist again, before he spun in Turn 3.

Newgarden would get Rossi for third on the restart, before Sting Ray Robb would send Felix Rosenqvist wide at Turn 6. The caution would return once again though after Kyffin Simpson went off at Turn 14 after Christian Rasmussen piled into the back of the Cayman Islander - who had his best ever qualifying on Saturday. Robb would have to yield seven positions, whilst Rasmussen would receive a stop-and-go.

McLaughlin would hold position on the restart, before Power made a bold move on Dixon for fifth into Turn 5, whilst Romain Grosjean got Álex Palou for 7th in the same corner. McLaughlin would steadily build his lead over Kirkwood, the gap reaching two seconds by Lap 14, as pitstops started to come on the horizon.

Théo Pourchaire would be the first to pit on Lap 15, getting his alternate tyre stint out of the way as he moved to the black tyres. McLaughlin would come in one later, along with Kirkwood, Rossi, Grosjean and VeeKay amongst others. All the frontrunners remained on the preferred black tyre for their second stint, apart from Scott Dixon.

Newgarden would come in the following lap, also switching to the black tyres, as Power, Dixon and O'Ward followed him in. Newgarden and McLaughlin would come out side-by-side, with McLaughlin squeezing past his teammate into Turn 1. O'Ward would switch to the reds after his team's earlier strategy blunder.

Newgarden had crucially jumped Kirkwood though, and remained in touch with his teammate, having got rid of the unfavoured alternate tyre. Palou would extend though, pitting on the end of Lap 18, cycling up to fifth on the road, behind McLaughlin, Newgarden, Power and Dixon. Kirkwood, who was running second, cycled down to 6th.

Dixon's reds would prove troublesome. Credit: Chris Owens

Palou would jump ahead of Dixon though, overtaking his teammate into Turn 5 on Lap 21. Dixon would quickly be overtaken by Kirkwood, Rossi, O'Ward and VeeKay though as he struggled on the red tyres. Grosjean would then be the next ot overtake Dixon into the kink. Dixon would continue to lose position after position, dropping behing Ericsson, Lundgaard, Ferrucci and Pourchaire before he pitted. Dixon had absolutely shredded his rear left alternate tyre - as many had feared.

McLaughlin's lead over Newgarden at mid-distance would remain about 3 seconds, with a further 3 back to Will Power in third. However, Newgarden was the only driver of the top six to have used the unfavoured alternate tyre.

O'Ward, who was on the reds, pitted on Lap 29, the first driver of the top seven, as he switched back to the blacks - after the team's blunder on the opening lap. McLaughlin would pit on Lap 30, as Newgarden remained out, as the Kiwi driver switched to the red tyres for his third stint - as McLaughlin was advised to treat his tyres very carefully in the opening laps.

Newgarden would pit the following lap, along with Power, with Newgarden on the blacks and Power the alternates. McLaughlin would get Power coming into Turn 3, and quickly got Newgarden as well on the run down to Turn 5. Newgarden would almost have another monster crash on his outlap onto Canada Corner, in what could have been a very similar incident to his crash on Saturday.

Newgarden made what looked like the race-winning move on Lap 36. Credit: James Black

On Lap 36, Newgarden would get his teammate into Turn 1, as McLaughlin's reds started to fall-off, with McLaughlin having to nurse his reds until the window. Crucially however, McLaughlin was able to keep in touch with his teammate.

Marcus Armstrong, who qualified third, parked his Chip Ganassi Racing car on Lap 37 with some kind of mechanical issue. Like Dixon, Rossi would start to hit the cliff with his reds, being overtaken by Grosjean, Herta, Ericsson and Lundgaard in quick succession. He would take them off at the end of Lap 40.

Palou would be the first frontrunner to pit, coming in on Lap 41, switching to the black tyres on his final stint. That put the Penske's in the 'danger zone.' That saw McLaughlin come in the following lap, similarly, going to the blacks for his final stint, along with O'Ward and Kirkwood.

Newgarden would run wide at Turn 8 on his in-lap, pitting on the end of Lap 43, as Power opted to keep staying out on the red tyres. Newgarden would blend ahead of his teammate, and by some margin. Power came in the following lap, and would cycle out ahead of Newgarden to take the lead on Lap 45, with just 10 laps remaining.

However, with cold tyres on Power's #12, Newgarden would close the gap to less than a second, and would attack the Aussie into Turn 1 on Lap 46, but Power would go into defence mode and hold the position.

Power's long wait for victory would finally end. Credit: James Black

Power would continually build his lead and claim a long-awaited victory, 34 races after his last victory in Detroit, back on the Belle Isle Circuit in 2022. It also comes after Power has claimed three runner-up spots in 2024. He led home a full Team Penske podium, something the team haven't done since Sonoma 2017, with Josef Newgarden in second, and long-time race leader, Scott McLaughlin finishing third.

Power takes the lead of the championship standings, ahead of Palou and Dixon. The former finishing 'best of the rest,' Dixon having a disastrous day after he stalled in his pitbox late on, finishing 21st at the flag.

Grand Prix of Road America results: 1. Power

2. Newgarden

3. McLaughlin

4. Palou

5. Kirkwood

6. Herta

7. Grosjean

8. O'Ward

9. Ericsson

10. Rahal

11. Lundgaard

12. Lundqvist

13. Pourchaire

14. Rosenqvist

15. Ferrucci

16. Fittipaldi

17. Robb

18. Rossi

19. Castroneves

20. Rasmussen

21. Dixon

22. Ghiotto

23. Siegel

24. VeeKay

25. Harvey

26. Armstrong

27. Simpson


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