When the green flag waved with 11 laps to go it was two Aussies at the front including Briscoe and Power followed by Rahal. Briscoe was attempting to run 32 laps on his final tank of fuel and while he was running fuel savings mode Power powered by to take the lead with 10 to go. Rahal was able to pass Briscoe for second with nine to go and tried to track down Power for the lead.
Rahal made it close but couldn’t close the gap at the checkered flag.
“Graham made it very difficult; man, he never gave up,” Power said. “What a race. It was the type of race you love – just run hard. It was great to give Roger Penske a win in his own race at Belle Isle. This track is really difficult on cold tires. It takes a long time to get it up to temperature.
“I was thinking on the last stint that I’ve got to do this again tomorrow.”
Rahal had his best finish of the season and showed tremendous progress after a dismal start to the season.
“I wanted to get the monkey off my back today,” Rahal said. “On that last run I tried to put on a charge and get him. My National Guard guys did a phenomenal job.
“We’re going to get that monkey off our back and it’s going to come soon.”
Kanaan’s third-place finish was his first top five this season.
“We are working in the right direction,” Kanaan said. “We have tonight to work on it and tomorrow we can put it in P1. I told (team owner) Chip Ganassi I want to win.
“The team did a great job. I’ve got to thank the Energizer Target guys. But you can’t be happy finishing third. We want to win so we’re working towards that. It was a great race for us. We got great restarts, great pit stops, plus the strategy played out in our favor big time. So we have tonight to work on it and tomorrow I want to put that thing in P1. That’s for sure. You know the Energizer car has a pretty good history of winning with Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, so I’ve got to keep it up.”
Mike Conway, who won this race last year, finished 21st after contact with the tire barrier between turns 11 and 12 on lap 16. The only driver to finish below Conway was the man who won last year’s second race of the double-header – Simon Pagenaud, who crashed into the tire barrier between turns six and seven on lap five.
“It is a tough deal,” Conway said. “I was saving fuel like we wanted early in the race. I was on the black tires and the three in front of me were on reds. I wanted to pressure them into a mistake. I could see James Hinchcliffe was sliding and caught it a couple of times. I felt I could pressure him into a mistake.
“I got into turn 12 a little late and the car couldn’t turn. I clipped the outside wall pretty hard. The boys are working hard to fix and get us back out. I’d like to check out the car before tomorrow’s qualifying. I feel bad for the Fuzzy’s team. I was trying too hard there.”