Power Turns Pole Into Mid-Ohio Triumph

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Will Power raced to a dominant victory Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Will Power raced to a dominant victory Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. (Al Steinberg Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Will Power was finally able to parlay a pole at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course into an NTT IndyCar Series victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Saturday afternoon.

Power, who won a pole for the 60th time in his career earlier Saturday, drove his No. 12 Team Verizon Chevrolet to victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was the third-straight year the 75-lap race was run without a caution period and the eighth time overall.

Power entered this weekend’s doubleheader winless in 2020, but he was in firm control of his 38th career victory on Saturday. It was the fifth time Power started on the pole at Mid-Ohio, but the first time he won the race.

“It’s great. It’s been a pretty trying year. Obviously, everyone has. The circumstances are very tough. COVID and all of the social distancing we have to do. But the fact we’re out here racing and have some fans is fantastic,” Power said. “It’s what we love to do. We love to entertain. Obviously, we love to drive.

“I’m so happy to have the Verizon 12 car in victory lane. This is probably the first race, I reckon, in about 10 years that I’ve just gone hard. Like every other race we’ve tried to save fuel and play a strategy game. Today I said: ‘Let’s just go hard, man. Screw this. We don’t want to get caught by a yellow. Let’s just run hard and use my raw pace, and see what happens.’ And we won the race.

“It was a great strategy. It’s just putting down good laps, lap after lap after lap. Just a flawless day.”

Power defeated Team Penske teammate and defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden by 7.423 seconds. Alexander Rossi was third followed by Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“Congrats to Will. Unbelievable job. He is still Will Power,” Newgarden said. “I feel like he was knocked down a little bit this year; he’s had some tough times. But he drove really well. That was a clinic he put on. Really happy for him. I wish we could have been a little bit better. I think we were a couple of tenths slower today each lap. I could kind of tell all race that I was fighting for second. I did what I could.”

Newgarden was able to take a bite out of Scott Dixon’s lead in the NTT IndyCar Series championship. Dixon qualified 17th and finished 10th. He entered the race with a 96-point lead and now leads Newgarden by 76.

Rossi, another hard-luck driver this year, scored his second podium finish of the season with a third-place finish.

“We just haven’t had a lot of things go our way,” Rossi said. “I don’t think we’ve had luck, but we haven’t had pace, either. We’re just really trying to go out and make the most of each opportunity we have for the rest of this year. The No. 27 NAPA/AutoNation guys did a great job. The car was good. Had we been able to clear Ryan (Hunter-Reay) a bit sooner and get Josef (Newgarden), we could have had a shot at it. The car’s pace was really good. Regardless, it wasn’t meant to be. Starting P6 was always going to be a bit of a challenge, but nonetheless it was a good day for us, and we get to do it all again tomorrow.”

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio doubleheader continues with race two, set for Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. It will be televised on NBC.

Qualifications for race two are two groups from 10:15 to 10:45 a.m. ET.