ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Sunday June 26, 2016)—Verizon IndyCar Series fans wishes were granted when they wanted an intense and exciting KOHLER Grand Prix. Will Power took first at the iconic permanent road course.
Power lead 46 of the 50 lap race in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, but was pursued late by Tony Kanaan in the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams.
Holding off Kanaan at the finish by 0.7429 of a second, Power won his second straight race in the 2016 season following a Lap 44 restart. The win at Road America is Power’s 27th win of his 11-year Indy car career, tying him with Johnny Rutherford for 13th place on the career victory list.
“You always dread that late restart, but I thought, ‘I’m going to make the absolute most of it and do the best I can and try to get a jump,” the Australian said. “I knew I had push-to-pass in hand, which I thought before the race is going to be the key here, to keep that for the end and that’s what I did. Very satisfying race. Very satisfying because I felt like I’m back where I was, and that’s a good feeling for me.”
Kanaan notched his best result in six Road America races and best finish of 2016 by finishing in second. He was the 2004 series champion and is a 15-time race winner. For much of the day, Kanaan battled Graham Rahal before pulling away from the No. 15 Gehl/D-A Lubricant Honda at the end.
“(Will) Power did a really good job of saving his push-to-passes until the last lap,” said Kanaan. “We had the red (alternate) tires (in closing laps), which was a little quicker and we were just chasing Will down. Towards the end, we had one push-to-pass which gave us extra power, but he had three so he had an advantage on us. But what a great race.”
Graham Rahal earned his second third-place finish. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver led two laps during an early pit stop but suffered the consequences by not saving his one new set of Firestone alternates until the end of the race.
“It’s great to get a good result,” Rahal said. “I’m pleased with what we did today and accomplished for the Gehl team. We just made the wrong tire call and it definitely hurt. It is what it is and we still came out of here third.”
Championship leader Simon Pagenaud lead two laps in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. Pagenaud was in second with five laps to go until an engine issue dropped him to a 13th-place finish.
Power jumped four spots in the standing to third, 81 points behind Pagenaud. Seven races remain in the series and Power still has his sights on a second Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
“I was talking championship even before this race, he said. “There are seven races to go and we’re still in it. There could be a 100-point swing in the last race. We have to go for it.”
Ed Carpenter Racing teammates Josef Newgarden and Spencer Pigot finished eighth and ninth in impressive performances. Newgarden drove with a fractured right clavicle and a fracture in his right hand after the June 12 crash at Texas Motor Speedway. He improved more positions than any driver from start to finish (12).
“We got good points, we gained points on the guys we needed to in the championship,” Newgarden said. “I’ll try and heal up a little better for Iowa since that will be harder than this one.”
The 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion, Spencer Pigot, in his sixth Verizon IndyCar Series race, posted his best career finish and first top 10. He was the highest finisher amongst the four rookies at Road America.
This year’s race was the 26th at Road America but the first since 2007. The Series was welcomed back to historic track by what Road America president and general manager George Bruggenthies called a record-breaking crowd for an event at the venue.
Bruggenthies did not have final attendance figures but Road America and INDYCAR officials were ecstatic about the fan turnout and excitement shown at the KOHLER Grand Prix. The 2017 race will run on June 25 in the second a three-year contract with INDYCAR. Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, said the sanctioning body was pleased with the entire weekend.
The next event on the schedule is the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway on July 9-10.