In a year of returning traditions, the Verizon IndyCar Series racing at Road America may have been the best story of all.
While it may not have held the same prestige as May’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar’s voyage to Wisconsin served as the ultimate return to roots, with a large crowd coming to enjoy the spectacle.
Hidden in the midst of Wisconsin forestry, the 14-corner, 4.014-mile road course is amongst the most legendary tracks in America.
For decades drivers near and far have come to the tiny village of Elkhart Lake to enjoy racing on the monstrous circuit. Names including Mario Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve and Emerson Fittipaldi have graced victory lane in an indy car over the decades, slowly turning the road course into a place of legend.
On Sunday, for the first time since 2007, IndyCar added its own chapter to Road America’s story, and it’s own winner to the track’s record books.
Looking to overcome a missed race with an inner ear infection at the start of the season, Will Power used a spirited drive to dominate the 50-lap race, leading 46 of them.
After a late yellow for the crashed Conor Daly, Power withstood a fierce challenge from Tony Kanaan to add his name to the legend of Elkhart Lake. The 2014 IndyCar Champion accomplished just that, surging to his second-consecutive victory, thrusting himself into the championship race and adding another track to his impressive résumé.
Behind Power, multiple battles and storylines emerged.
Scott Dixon fell out on lap six with engine issues, finishing 22nd. Simon Pagenaud appeared poised to contend for the victory, only for his motor to turn sour in the late stages. The Frenchman fell back to 13th, losing a small bit of his stranglehold on the title.
Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay climbed from outside of the top five to score third and fourth-place finishes, respectively, with others such as Juan Pablo Montoya rising from deep in the field to finish in the top 10.
Just two weeks removed from a violent crash at Texas Motor Speedway, Josef Newgarden drove through the pain of broken bones to rise from 20th to 8th, a phenomenal drive that included more passes than any other driver in the paddock.
In front of an estimated crowd of over 100,000 people, the IndyCar paddock thrilled with great racing at a beautiful venue, continuing a trend of reborn tradition that’s revitalized the series even amid issues like the Texas debacle,
The best news? The series is already confirmed to come back to Elkhart Lake in 2017.
Road America was a track that IndyCar never should’ve left to begin with. Now that the track is back on the schedule, we can only hope it’s here to stay.
About the author
A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.
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