Will Power took his first victory of the 2022 IndyCar season for Team Penske in Detroit, resisting a rapid charge from Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi.
As expected, the soft tyres dropped off significantly, which opened the window for a three-stop strategy despite two-stoppers winning both Detroit races last year.
Rossi went from 11th to sixth early on and then pitted after just four laps to ditch the softs.
He was so fast on the hard tyres that he negated the time he’d lost in the stop and passed polesitter and initial race leader Josef Newgarden on track as the Penske driver tried to stretch the mileage on his first set of softs.
Newgarden was also passed by the drivers who started the race on the hard tyres: Power, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Kyle Kirkwood.
Power and Kirkwood elected to take the softs in the last stint and stopped with a long 20-lap run to finish.
Despite only qualifying 16th, Power emerged as the leader on the softs 16s ahead of Rossi on the hards, and the latter drove hard to eat into the gap.
However, Power had the pace on the softs and held on for a redeeming win after he was robbed of victory in the first Detroit race last year when his car wouldn’t restart after a yellow flag.
With the track rubbered in it likely helped him to hang on to the lead in that last stint as his cushion came down to just one second.
It means the Indianapolis 500 (15th) is the only race Power has finished outside the top four this season. This victory took his IndyCar career tally to 41, one behind fourth-placed Michael Andretti on the all-time win list, and means he’s won at least once in 16 consecutive seasons now.
Rossi – buoyed by the announcement of his 2023 Arrow McLaren SP deal this week – will have to wait to end his 44-race barren run without victory, but this certainly felt like the Rossi we knew prior to 2020.
Scott Dixon turned his ninth place start into his first podium of the season to rebound from the pitlane speeding penalty that cost him the Indy 500, and was the top Ganassi driver in the race with his strategy of starting on the hards, running the softs in the middle and grabbing fresh hards at the end.
Newgarden and Pato O’Ward fought for the win last year in race two but lacked the correct strategy this time, going long on the soft tyres at the start. They had to settle for fourth and fifth.
Palou turned his 18th place start into sixth in a typical run for the reigning champion who turns lemons into lemonade when it comes to adversity in any shape or form in IndyCar.
Simon Pagenaud was on the same strategy as Newgarden and O’Ward but dropped from seventh to ninth on the last lap – which his Meyer Shank team says is the result of others not respecting yellows for a Rinus VeeKay crash.
Marcus Ericsson was on the same strategy and the Indy 500 winner jumped ahead of Pagenaud to take seventh from eighth at the start, making it three Ganassi cars in the top 10.
Colton Herta was the last on that strategy in the top 10 and didn’t appear to have the pace of team-mate Rossi, but jumped ahead of Pagenaud at the end to take eighth.
VeeKay crashed out of 10th on the last lap, gifting Felix Rosenqvist an incredible result.
He started 26th and last after a pit penalty caused by a communication error from the Arrow McLaren SP team, but as usual he refused to give up in the face of adversity and pulled off the ‘Rossi three-stop’ to jump to 10th in a candidate for performance of the race in a crucial time as he chases a new contract.
VeeKay, the driver rumoured to be in contention to replace him, did himself no favours.
Kirkwood was one of the most tragic stories of the race. He was fastest in the first practice but then crashed with a brake issue in the second.
He then won the IMSA GT category while driving with an extremely painful wrist injury – a nightmare in IndyCars with no power steering – and was in the top five for most of the race before crashing at Turn 3 on his out-lap for the final stint, damaging the left rear while in the top 10.
Contact with the wall means a broken tow link for @KKirkwoodRacing.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) June 5, 2022
It was even more of a surprise because Kirkwood has been incredible on out-laps as a rookie this year, but maybe this shows how close to the limit he gets.
Helio Castroneves was another top 10 candidate who dropped out in the first half of the race having started fourth after an electric issue halted him. Graham Rahal crashed out with a mistake at the start, too.
The race was the last at the current Belle Isle location, which IndyCar/CART had used since 1992, with a move to downtown and a course in the area Formula 1 used for its 1980s Detroit grands prix planned for 2023.
|Pos||Name||Team||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||55||1h32m08.818s||1m16.629s||2||53|
|2||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+1.003s||1m16.521s||3||40|
|3||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||1||+7.124s||1m17.037s||2||36|
|4||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||13||+10.671s||1m16.615s||2||34|
|5||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+11.235s||1m16.757s||2||30|
|6||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||1||+14.905s||1m20.267s||2||29|
|7||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+40.899s||1m16.756s||2||26|
|8||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+41.128s||1m16.731s||2||24|
|9||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+41.294s||1m16.701s||2||22|
|10||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+42.877s||1m16.505s||3||20|
|11||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsport||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+45.891s||1m16.403s||3||19|
|12||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+51.177s||1m16.928s||3||18|
|13||Takuma Sato||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+52.216s||1m16.666s||3||17|
|14||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+1m12.776s||1m17.079s||3||16|
|15||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+1m28.241s||1m17.288s||3||15|
|16||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||69||0||+1 lap||1m16.92s||3||14|
|17||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||69||0||+1 lap||1m17.112s||3||13|
|18||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||69||0||+1 lap||1m18.018s||2||12|
|19||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||69||0||+1 lap||1m17.281s||2||11|
|20||Dalton Kellett||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||69||0||+1 lap||1m18.578s||2||10|
|21||Santino Ferrucci||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||68||0||+2 laps||1m17.953s||3||9|
|22||Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||68||0||+2 laps||1m17.88s||3||8|
|23||Tatiana Calderón||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||68||0||+2 laps||1m18.373s||2||7|
|Kyle Kirkwood||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||49||0||DNF||1m17.235s||3||6|
|Hélio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||21||0||DNF||1m18.537s||2||5|
|Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||2||0||DNF||1m21.398s||1||5|