After an uncharacteristically poor beginning to the 2016 season, Will Power returned to form on an overcast day in Belle Isle Park.
Power benefitted from timely cautions and overtook teammate Simon Pagenaud on the final restart to take Sunday’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans – Dual II, his first victory since a May 9, 2015, victory on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
In typical Detroit fashion, managing the ever-changing pit strategy was key to scoring a good finish.
After running up front for much of the day, Power and Pagenaud were among a small group of cars to pit on lap 49, just before the day’s final yellow flag fell for a stalled Jack Hawksworth. Helio Castroneves, who led at the time of the yellow, was forced to pit for fuel, surrendering the lead and any chance at the victory.
The field returned to green on lap 51 with Saturday winner Sebastien Bourdais at the point, but the Frenchman would need another fuel stop before the end of the race. Bourdais made his final dive to pit road with 12 laps remaining. Graham Rahal took over the top spot as a result, but quickly had to pit himself. Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi would suffer the same fate.
With the leaders all required to pit, Power surged to the lead with nine laps remaining, and held Pagenaud at bay to take the victory by .9203 seconds.
Pagenaud crossed the line in second to earn his first podium since winning the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Ryan Hunter-Reay followed in third to complete the podium and lead the way for Honda and Andretti Autosport.
Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon rounded out the top five, with Conor Daly, Tony Kanaan, Bourdais, Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato completing the top 10.
Some of the favorites entering the day failed to make it to the checkered flag. James Hinchcliffe and Max Chilton were eliminated on an incident in the opening turn. Juan Pablo Montoya crashed on his own to end his day after only 33 laps. Mechanical woes hampered Hawksworth’s day, forcing him to retire after 48 laps.
In the end, Roger Penske and Chevrolet were given a strong day to celebrate, while Honda was left searching for answers after taking only two of the top 8 positions.
The Verizon IndyCar Series will return to action on June 11, when the field heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone 600.
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