Power holds off Rahal for win in race 1 at Detroit

 

The Sports Network

Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Will Power won Saturday's first race in the IndyCar Series weekend doubleheader at Detroit's Belle Isle Park after edging Graham Rahal to the finish line by just 0.3308 seconds.

Power bounced back on this 2.36-mile, 13-turn temporary street circuit after struggling in Friday's practice sessions and then qualifying 16th for race 1 on Saturday morning. The Team Penske driver overtook Ryan Briscoe for the lead following a restart on lap 60. He then held off Rahal during the final 10 laps.

"[Rahal] made it very difficult, and he never gave up," Power said. "What a race. It was a tough race."

Power scored his second win of the season and the 23rd of his IndyCar career. He moved into a tie with Tommy Milton for 18th on the series' all-time race winners list. His first victory this year came in the March 30 season-opener in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"It's a massive win for me, massive win for the team and especially for [team owner] Roger [Penske] and for Chevy. They've been trying to win here [in Detroit] for a long time, and we finally did it with a Honda trying to charge by," Power added.

It was the fourth win for Penske in Detroit but first since 2001 with Helio Castroneves.

Rahal's second-place run marked his best finish in the series since he placed second in April 2013 in Long Beach, California. He finished 33rd in last Sunday's Indianapolis 500 after suffering an electrical issue in the early going.

"I thought I was going to finally get that monkey off of our back today," Rahal said. "I knew I had a car that was as quick as [Power's]. I knew I had one opportunity to pass him, and that was on the restart. But he blocked me, which I would have done too. I don't blame him."

Tony Kanaan finished third, followed by Justin Wilson and Castroneves, who started on the pole and led the most laps with 30.

Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay finished 16th after crashing on the final lap. Hunter-Reay got loose and spun into the barrier in turn 8. He entered this race with a 40-point lead, but Power has trimmed that advantage to just three points.

"We had a rough day overall," Hunter-Reay said. "Strategy wasn't working for us, and we kept losing spots on pit lane, losing spots on track. It was just a tough day. At the end, I'm not really sure what happened. Marco [Andretti] seemed to be struggling on fuel, and I got inside of him and just lost the rear of the car."

James Hinchcliffe finished sixth, while rookie drivers Carlos Munoz and Carlos Huertas placed seventh and eighth, respectively. Charlie Kimball and Andretti completed the top-10. Defending IndyCar champion Scott Dixon was 11th and Juan Pablo Montoya 12th.

This 70-lap race featured four cautions. The first caution came on lap 5 when Simon Pagenaud hit the wall in turn 4 after he made contact with Power while they were battling for position. Pagenaud started this race one spot behind Power.

"I was trying to get around [Power], but I couldn't find any room anywhere. I should have known better," Pagenaud said.

One year ago, Pagenaud claimed his first career IndyCar victory in race 2 at Detroit. He finished last in the 22-car field in Saturday's event. Race 2 here is scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying is slated for 10 a.m.

Mike Conway, who won last year's race 1 at this circuit, finished 21st after he spun out and crashed into the wall on lap 15.

"I got into turn 12 a little late, and the car couldn't turn. I clipped the outside wall pretty hard," Conway said.

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