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Power Erases All Doubts with Breakthrough Indianapolis 500 Victory in Scorcher

Will Power isn’t ashamed to admit he thought he might never win the Indianapolis 500.

A guzzle of cold milk after a searing race erased those doubts forever.

Power earned his first Indianapolis 500 victory in his 11th career start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” taking the lead for good on Lap 196 to win in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Power, who started third, beat pole sitter Ed Carpenter to the finish by 3.1589 seconds. Power’s average speed was 166.935 mph.

“Man, I just can’t believe it,” Power said. “I can’t describe it. I feel like collapsing. I want to cry. I couldn’t stop screaming. I can’t believe it.

“I was wondering if I was ever going to win it, and thoughts went through my mind during the month like that. In my career, I’ve had so many wins, so many poles. But everyone always talks about the ‘500.’ And I won it. I just couldn’t imagine winning a race in front of crowd like this, this many people. It’s just amazing. What an event. I love it.”

2008 “500” winner Scott Dixon finished third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. 2016 winner Alexander Rossi finished fourth after starting 32nd in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

Robert Wickens was the top rookie finisher, ninth in the No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda.

Power’s victory in 91-degree temperatures – tied for the second hottest Race Day in history – extended Team Penske’s record for “500” wins to 17. It also was the first time any driver completed the May Double of winning the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course and Indianapolis 500 in the same year.

“Look at his line, 223 miles an hour the last couple laps,” team owner Roger Penske said. “He drove everything he could. In fact, he said at the road race, he had never driven harder in a road race in his life when he was on those black tires.”

A fascinating mad dash to the checkered and a spot on the Borg-Warner Trophy ensued over the last 10 laps after 2013 “500” winner Tony Kanaan spun exiting Turn 2 in his No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet and hit the inside retaining wall on Lap 189, triggering the last of seven caution periods.

The top five under the last caution were Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, Jack Harvey, Power and Dixon. Servia, Wilson and Harvey were gambling, hoping for one more caution period to stretch their final fuel run to more than 40 laps and an unlikely shot at victory. Dixon last pitted on Lap 160, with Power’s final stop on Lap 171, so they could charge hard toward the finish.

Wilson roared past Servia for the lead on the front straightaway on the final restart, on Lap 193. He led the next three laps as Servia faded and Harvey rose to second. But Wilson and Harvey were forced to dive into the pits for a splash of fuel, handing the lead to Power on Lap 196.

Carpenter had climbed to second behind Power when Wilson and Harvey made their late pit stops. But he didn’t have enough speed or time in his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to chase down Power, who turned the fastest lead lap of the race – 223.306 mph – on Lap 199 to seal the victory.

“He maybe seemed to get a little better than us,” Carpenter said of Power. “I would probably say we were a little stronger early in the day. My car seemed to pick up a little more understeer as the day went on. We couldn't seem to make enough adjustments to overcome that. He came out on top.”

Carpenter and Power were the dominant drivers of the day. Carpenter led the most laps, 65, while Power was second with 59 laps led.

Still, the race featured 15 different lap leaders, tying an event record, as teams tried a variety of pit strategies to gain an advantage.

Carpenter dominated early from the pole, leading the first 31 laps before the first pit stop sequence. He then led Laps 35-50, flexing his horsepower.

Danica Patrick’s groundbreaking driving career ended with a crash on Lap 68. She spun in Turn 2, and her No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet made contact with the SAFER Barrier. Patrick was credited with 30th place.

2005 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Patrick walked away from the sport as the only women to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500 and as the top-finishing female driver in the race, as she placed third in 2009. She also placed in the top 10 in six of her eight career starts.

“It was pretty unexpected,” Patrick said of the crash. “But on the other hand, the car was a little bit positive today and was turning a bit more than I wanted it to. I was just having to chase it a lot.

“I did have some good moments here this month, and I won’t forget that, either, and I won’t forget all the fans. So, thank you.”

Patrick and Kanaan weren’t the only fan favorites to not see the checkered flag due to a one-car crash. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves spun on Lap 147 exiting Turn 4, with his No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet hitting the SAFER Barrier on the inside retaining wall. He ended up 27th.

Castroneves’ only Verizon IndyCar Series starts this year came this month in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, as he moved to sports car racing full time this season.

“It’s a shame, caught us by surprise,” Castroneves said of the crash. “We will learn a little more and hopefully can convince RP (Roger Penske) to bring us back.”

Visit IMS.com/renew to renew tickets for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26, 2019.

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