TORONTO — Will Power feels he’s been on the wrong side of enough caution periods in the Verizon IndyCar Series that he gladly accepted the timely one that helped him win Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.
The 2014 series champion claimed his third win of the season and third on the streets of Exhibition Place by 1.5275 seconds over teammate Helio Castroneves, driving directly into the 2016 championship conversation in the process. Power now sits second in the standings despite missing the season opener, 47 points behind teammate Simon Pagenaud.
“Getting close, that’s good,” said Power, who sat out the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March with an inner-ear infection after winning the pole in qualifying. “It’s good to get this momentum for the team going forward for the rest of the championship. Five (races) to go, all good tracks for me.
“If we can close that gap going into (the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma in September), we can do this, we can win this championship, absolutely.”
Starting fourth, Power trailed pole sitter Scott Dixon, Castroneves and Pagenaud most of the first two-thirds of the 85-lap battle on the 1.786-mile temporary street course – the 32nd Indy car race in Toronto. Power was running third on Lap 58 when race strategist Tim Cindric ordered him to the pits just before a full-course caution came out when Josef Newgarden’s car made contact with the wall in Turn 5, closing the pits.
Power cycled ahead of Dixon and Pagenaud – who had to wait to for their stops until the pits were opened during the caution period – then the Australian waited in second place until leader Tony Kanaan had to stop for fuel nine laps from the finish.
“The team called me in just at the last minute. Perfect timing,” said Power, whose third Toronto win ties him with Dario Franchitti and trails only Michael Andretti’s seven victories at the track. “I can’t tell you how many times it has gone the opposite way for me at this place and many other places. But I was so stoked to see yellow lights as I was going into pit lane. It’s not often you catch a yellow like that.”
Power held off Castroneves, in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet, on a last-lap restart to collect his 28th career Indy car win – moving the 35-year-old ahead of Johnny Rutherford alone into 13th on the all-time victories list. One win ahead of Power are Castroneves and retired Rick Mears, now a Team Penske driver coach.
Castroneves overcame a punctured left-front tire midway through the race to record his 40th career runner-up finish – second all-time to Mario Andretti’s 56. Castroneves is third in the standings, 74 points behind Pagenaud.
“It’s a shame (about the puncture),” Castroneves said, “but don’t get me wrong, the Pennzoil Chevrolet machine was really strong. Second (in the race) is better than third.”
James Hinchcliffe thrilled the partisan Toronto crowd by finishing third in his hometown race in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. His best previous Toronto showing was eighth place in six previous races.
“For once in my career here in Toronto we caught a lucky break,” Hinchcliffe said. “It’s not just that I haven’t had great luck here, I’ve had insanely bad luck here. Today we were on the other side of that. It’s part of Indy car racing.”
Verizon P1 Award winner Dixon finished eighth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and points leader Pagenaud ninth in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet.
Newgarden, the defending Toronto winner, finished 22nd and last after his crash. He was checked and released from the infield care center but, according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director, will have his right hand that was fractured in a June 12 crash at Texas Motor Speedway re-evaluated Monday before he is cleared to drive.
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action with the Honda Indy 200, July 29-31 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Dixon, the reigning series champion, is a five-time winner at the Lexington, Ohio track.
RESULTS: Verizon IndyCar Series; Honda Indy Toronto; Exhibition Place; July 17, 2016
1. (4) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
2. (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (6) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 85, Running
4. (12) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 85, Running
5. (20) Takuma Sato, Honda, 85, Running
6. (10) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 85, Running
7. (5) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 85, Running
8. (1) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 85, Running
10. (22) Marco Andretti, Honda, 85, Running
11. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 85, Running
12. (18) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 85, Running
13. (16) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
14. (11) Luca Filippi, Honda, 85, Running
15. (7) Conor Daly, Honda, 85, Running
16. (19) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 85, Running
17. (15) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 85, Running
18. (14) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 85, Running
19. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 85, Running
20. (9) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 84, Running
21. (13) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 80, Contact
22. (8) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 57, Contact
CREDIT: INDYCAR Communications