Will Power scored a dominant win in Sunday’s IndyCar road race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. The Penske driver led from start to finish after qualifying on pole, beating Scott Dixon by 3.3 seconds. Dario Franchitti finished third but lost the IZOD IndyCar Series championship lead to Power, who led the series through most of last season only to lose out to his Scottish rival at the final race.
At this early stage of the season it looks as if this year’s championship battle will be a repeat of last year, with Power and Franchitti in charge. “It’s the second year our team has been together and we’re just more solid,” said Power. “I’m going to be a lot better on ovals this year and I’m very determined. I want to win this championship.
The race was littered with full-course yellows – six in all covering 20 of 90 laps – but Power was able to pull a small gap to Dixon at each restart. “I got the jump on him every time,” he said. “I knew if I had the inside line into Turn 1 it wouldn’t be a problem. But man, it was just yellow after yellow after yellow! But it was one of the most relaxing races I’ve ever had. I was just really cruising, but pushing hard. It was an awesome day.”
Dixon wasn’t happy with most of the restarts. “We were told in the drivers’ meeting that the left lane has to be left of the centre line, but he [Power] was to the right of the centre line. I was pretty much on the grass on some of those restarts. I understand why he was doing it. He was trying to stay on the clean side of the track but you can’t have the inside and the clean side. That’s not how it works.”
Power was adamant he’d nothing wrong: “He drove up beside me at one point to complain. I thought, what dude? What was I doing wrong? I was just maintaining speed. I don’t know what he was complaining about.”
Dixon freely admitted he didn’t have the speed to pass Power. “In the end I’m not sure that we had enough,” he said. “We definitely tried and I burnt the tyres off towards the end of each stint. I think he just had a better balance and better speed on older tyres. But it was still a good result.”
Franchitti was delighted to come from seventh on the grid to third at a track where he struggled both last year and in recent testing. “I don’t think our balance was as good as Scott and Will’s over the long run, so I was abusing the tyres a bit more,” he said. “I tried to drive the car within the tyre and my lap times were getting slower as a result. But it was a pretty good result.”
After two of 16 IndyCar races Power leads Franchitti by seven points. Tony Kanaan came from the back of the grid to finish sixth in Alabama and is third in the points, ahead of Dixon and Simona de Silvestro, who was ninth in Alabama. Round three follows this weekend with the 37th running of the Long Beach Grand Prix in southern California.