Power started outside the front row alongside poleman Pato O’Ward in what started as a tire strategy duel: Power was in tune with most of the field starting on the harder Firestones, while O’Ward was one of a handful to get an early run over the Reds under his belt.
Whatever advantage O’Ward might have gained from the substitutes was not enough: he made his first save on lap 17, three laps after Power, and was passed by the No.12 Penske a turn after joining the track.
After seizing the advantage, Power shifted to building on it and quickly began to widen a gap with Colton Herta, who passed O’Ward for second place with a move at Turn 1. During the middle phase of the race, Power’s advantage began to crumble. territory: at one point he was almost 10 seconds ahead. But that changed when he stumbled across James Hinchcliffe’s # 29 Andretti car. Between wanting to stay in the lead and potentially stifling some of Power’s advantage over teammate Andretti Herta at the same time, Hinchcliffe had plenty of reasons to make his car as wide as possible.
Power’s frustration at not being able to overtake the Canadian was evident in his radio communications, but if Hinch was really channeling his inner Eddie Irvine, he was doing it superbly. By the time Power was finally able to make his next save, his gap with Herta had been almost completely wiped out. And just to rub the salt in that injury, Hinchcliffe – who had pitted on the same lap as Power – beat the No.12 in the pits, and the Aussie was forced to start his next stint again looking at the fin again. rear of Hinchcliffe.
The salute came in the form of a trail of smoke from the back of Alex Palou’s car. The championship leader had spent the first part of the race struggling with a fuel card issue, and although the team managed to get it under control to some extent, this new issue was very clearly terminal. After 67 laps of the green flag race, the first yellow of the day came out to allow the # 10 Ganassi car to be taken off the track. A happy byproduct of this from Power’s perspective was that Hinchcliffe was pulled out of his way for the reboot, meaning a clear trail ahead.
Herta was still leading the pursuit at this point, while Romain Grosjean had also found a way to pass O’Ward and held third place. Power had the measure of both on the restart to open up a small gap, then had to start all over a few laps later when a second restart was required following a warning to save Rinue VeeKay, who had been spun by Scott McLaughlin.
Once again however, Power only encountered moderate resistance on restart and – aided by the fact that Grosjean and Herta had all their push-to-passes torched – he managed the gap in the last few laps to claim. the redemption after a tumultuous visit to Nashville last week.
The 40th career victory of @12WillPower.
– NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) August 14, 2021
“We needed it as a group,” Power said. “I can’t tell you how good these guys have been this year. Without fail in the pit stops, they gave me a good car, and we had some bad luck, and I also made a few mistakes. What a relief. When the yellow came and then another, you have to survive those yellows, but we had a really good car. It was a bit difficult in traffic, but the car was good ahead.
Grosjean, meanwhile, found a way to pass Herta on the first restart and took No.51 Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda across the line for the second, echoing his arrival on the track in May.
“It was a cool weekend; very competitive, ”he smiled. “We had a good car all day and we fought at the front. I’m happy to be second. I would love to be first, but if every time we get to Indy I finish second, I’ll be happy. I ran out of push-to-pass early; I had to use a bit earlier to get through the overtaken cars so when the restart happened I knew I had to go all out and not make any mistakes.
For Herta, the third represented a solid recovery after the disappointment of a dominant Nashville performance that ended in barriers.
“It was a good rebound from Nashville,” he said. “Great job from everyone. The pit stops were great, the strategy was great. I think we maximized everything today. We had nothing for Grosjean or Power so I think third was the best we could do.
Palou’s misfortune had a great influence on the flavor of the championship fight. One day when Scott Dixon made great strides from the back of the pack before getting stuck in the midpack and Josef Newgarden seemed to spend much of the afternoon trying not to get knocked out at Turn 1 , Palou was set to leave the weekend with a 50-point advantage. Instead, his buffer was reduced to just 21, and O’Ward’s fifth place helped the Mexican return to second place ahead of Dixon.
Elsewhere, rookie RLL Christian Lundgaard was able to maintain his stellar pace from the start of the weekend until the first stint, but as the race progressed the Dane found it increasingly difficult to keep in touch. with the leaders. He still finished in a very respectable 12th.
Top Gun Racing’s debut as a team lasted 12 laps before RC Enerson was forced to abandon the No.75 Chevrolet.