INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power led all 75 laps in Saturday’s Harvest Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Despite leading from Flag-to-flag, the end of the race bout with Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi was closer than most thought it would be.
Power and Herta were on Firestone Reds. That tire is faster for a shorter period of time while the Firestone Blacks are slower at the start but last longer. Alexander Rossi was on blacks.
Coming off the final pit stops, the running order read Power-Rossi-Herta.
Rossi, was catching Power lap after lap. Was he the best option at victory? The blacks should last longer right?
Well, Saturday they didn’t. The reds were faster and for longer.
“I think me, Will (Power) and Colton (Herta) were kind of in our own league, and it was kind of whoever could make the best last stint happen,” Rossi said. “We went with blacks (primary tire) because we thought it was a good option. We were the only car that did blacks on the last stint. Ultimately, we tried something different – I’m not mad about it – but it was the wrong tire choice. Did it cost us the win? Maybe not. Did it cost us second? Probably. But, ultimately, four races, four podiums, and we’re pretty happy.”
Rossi cut Power’s lead below a second. Then he faded. Herta, caught as passed him with 11 to go and had more push to passes left than Power. Was it now his race to lose? A day after being on the wrong tire strategy himself, he was now on the right one.
He chopped into Power’s lead but could do nothing with it. Power prevailed for his 39th career Indy Car win which ranks him fifth all time with Al Unser. Despite leading for more than five seconds for much of the day, the final margin of victory was .8932-seconds (3rd closest of the season).
“I think I kind of left everything out there,” said Herta. “I used up a lot of my tires trying to catch back up to those guys. We just didn’t really have it at the end. I think I burned up the rears a little bit too much to the point where Will (Power) could hold me back. I do think we were a little bit faster than him, but, unfortunately, we just didn’t put it together in the first stint until too far back, and that kind of hurt us going into the next two stints.”
Power, admitted that he had nothing left himself.
“Obviously we had to save fuel, but we were pushing really hard every lap to pull a gap enough to be covered if someone went one lap longer in the pit stop sequence,” said Power.
“There was a lot of pressure from Alex in the second stint, then a lot of pressure from Alex at the beginning of the third stint, then Colton put a lot of pressure on all the way to the end.
“I really had nothing left. That was everything I had there at the end. Fortunately I could hold them off.”
Power also noted that the reason push to passes weren’t working and why Herta could capitalize on his more left was that no one could use them very long because they were saving so much fuel. You couldn’t use it like normal or you’d run out and have to pit a third time. They couldn’t risk doing so and running out of gas before the checkered flag flew.
“No one could use push-to-pass because unfortunately we had to get a fuel number. Everyone really had to save fuel, lifting. No one could attack.
“It certainly made for, yeah, a more boring race. I liked that, but…”