Will Power has become the first Australian winner of the Indianapolis 500 after reclaiming a deserved lead when the top two had to pit with just four laps remaining.
Ed Carpenter was runner-up and Scott Dixon third in a typically dramatic finish which featured a seven-lap final green flag segment.
Power took over the lead in the #12 Team Penske Chevrolet through the third round of pit stops around halfway through the 200-lap race.
The Queenslander looked to be in a strong position but an alternate strategy from team-mate Josef Newgarden (#1 Chevrolet) and a bold move from Chip Ganassi Racing to pit Dixon (#9 Honda) for the final time with 40 laps remaining put the result in doubt.
When Tony Kanaan (#14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) lost control with 12 laps remaining, what would be the last Caution gave hope to a number of less likely entries.
Oriol Servia (#64 Scuderia Corsa w/ RLL Honda) led Stefan Wilson (#25 Andretti Autosport Honda) and Jack Harvey (#60 Meyer Shank w/ SPM Honda), all three of whom would attempt to make it home without another pit stop.
Power sat fourth, having passed Dixon four laps before the Caution, but now had the New Zealander back up on his gearbox for the restart.
Servia did not make the best of the restart and was swallowed up on either side by Wilson and Harvey.
Power, however, had no way through and had to check up behind the Spaniard, but he managed to still hold out Dixon.
Car #12 did get past Servia on the main straight at the start of Lap 195, placing Power third as Wilson still sat in front of Harvey.
It wouldn’t last, both retreating to pit lane at the end of Lap 196 and handing the lead back to Power.
The 37-year-old stayed in front for the four remaining laps to write his name into history as the 72nd different driver to win the Indianapolis 500.
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) May 27, 2018
Carpenter led the field away from pole position as Power rounded up Simon Pagenaud (#22 Team Penske Chevrolet) for second position at the first corner.
Pagenaud hit back with a move on his team-mate at the start of Lap 3 and the race settled into a rhythm.
Carpenter gradually stretched his advantage in a sign of things to come, with the field mostly unchanging and spreading out through the longer green flag runs.
The #20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet was 2.3s to the good before a struggling James Davison began to lose several positions around the Lap 27 mark, bottling up the backmarkers just as the leaders were coming up on them.
Newgarden took advantage by passing his two Team Penske team-mates in traffic to move into second, just as Carpenter was the first of the front-runners to pit on Lap 31.
Kanaan jumped four positions during the pit stop cycle to sit second behind Carpenter, and ahead of Newgarden, Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves (#3 Team Penske Chevrolet), and Power.
Dixon was ninth and Alexander Rossi 23rd, the latter having started the #27 Andretti Autosport Honda from the middle of the last row.
Carpenter got out over 2.6s ahead before Kanaan began to catch him, but a crash between Davison and Takuma Sato brought about the first Caution on Lap 47 which closed them up anyway.
Sato (#30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) came up on the still struggling Davison and there was contact between the 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner’s right-front and the Australian’s left-rear, ending their races on the spot.
It also prompted all but Zachary Claman DeMelo (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) into the pits for a second time, handing the rookie Canadian the lead and allowing most of those who had dropped a lap to get back on the lead lap.
Behind DeMelo was Carpenter, Kanaan, Power, and Newgarden, with Dixon eighth and Rossi still 22nd.
Carpenter wasted no time in disposing of DeMelo at the restart on Lap 56, while Kanaan passed Car #19 on the back straight.
Power, on the other hand, couldn’t find a way by as he fell behind Newgarden and Pagenaud and stayed behind DeMelo.
It proved to be a short run under green, ended on Lap 58 when Ed Jones lost the rear end of his #10 Chip Ganassi Honda through Turn 2 and spun into the wall.
A handful pitted at the back, with the top six Carpenter, Kanaan, Newgarden, Pagenaud, DeMelo, and Power, Dixon 11th, and Rossi 20th.
Kanaan got a run on Carpenter and passed as the green flag flew again on Lap 64, but his lead lasted precisely a lap before Carpenter got back up the inside at Turn 1.
Dixon briefly dropped even further before a brave move squeezing past Sebastien Bourdais (#18 DCR w/ Vasser-Sullivan Honda) for 11th against the edge of the track at Turn 3 on Lap 64.
The third Caution came on Lap 68 when Danica Patrick’s final race came to a premature end.
Patrick (#13 Ed Carpenter Racing Honda) had a similar lose to that of Jones at Turn 2, at which time DeMelo made his second pit stop and the third-placed Newgarden went onto an alternate strategy, rejoining in 20th.
Kanaan rounded up Carpenter at the Lap 74 restart and this time his lead was more long-lasting, stretching to around a second-and-a-half before the Brazilian would pit at the end of Lap 90.
Power had passed Pagenaud at the restart and he assumed the lead when Carpenter took his third pit stop at the end of Lap 92.
Kanaan had a major setback when he had to return to pit lane with a right-rear puncture on just Lap 98.
Power meanwhile had managed to put more than four seconds on Carpenter as the pit stop cycle played out.
When the off-sequence DeMelo pitted at the end of Lap 108, Power maintained that margin.
Following Carpenter were Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda), and Castroneves, while Dixon was eighth, Rossi 12th, Newgarden 15th, and Kanaan 22nd.
Power’s lead diminished in traffic before the Queenslander got it back to nearly four seconds by the time Carpenter took service again at the end of Lap 127.
Car #12 was in two laps later and more soon peeled off, Newgarden assuming the lead on Lap 133 and then Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) on Lap 135.
The complexion of the race changed four laps later when Bourdais had a lose off Turn 3 while tailing Rossi.
The Frenchman couldn’t catch Car #18 and smacked the outside wall, bringing about a Caution which prompted the rest of the field to take their imminently needed pit stops.
Power, like many, would now likely need only one more pit stop and he led from Carpenter, Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay, and Castroneves.
Dixon was eighth, Rossi ninth, Newgarden 13th, and Kanaan got the wave-around to get back onto the lead lap.
Hunter-Reay attacked Pagenaud to no avail at the Lap 145 restart but Rossi passed several on the high line to move into sixth position.
Fuel mileage looked to have become a non-issue for most when Castroneves, who had just moved into fourth, looped Car #3 in the pack and made hard contact with the wall at pit entry, prompting another Caution on Lap 147.
Rossi made yet another brilliant restart on Lap 154, passing Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud on the outside through Turns 1 and 2 to move into the podium places.
Sage Karam (#24 Dryer & Reinbold Chevrolet) also crashed while running in the top 10 and the field was neutralised again on Lap 155.
The front-runners were still Power, Carpenter, Rossi, Pagenaud, and Hunter-Reay, with Dixon seventh, Newgarden 10th, and Kanaan 14th.
Before the race would restart, Dixon took what would be his final pit stop at the end of Lap 160 and rejoined in 19th.
Carpenter just staved off Rossi at the next restart on Lap 162, the start of one of the longer green flag periods.
Power was the first of those at the front to make his final stop at the end of Lap 171 but resumed several seconds behind Dixon, cars in between them.
He remained the leader of those on the conventional strategy before passing Dixon and assuming favouritism as Newgarden’s strategy did not pay off.
Power passed Dixon on Lap 185, setting himself up to take the lead back after Kanaan caused the seventh and final Caution.
In the end, Carpenter finished runner-up having got by Dixon on Lap 194.
Rossi’s valiant effort yielded a fourth position, from Hunter-Reay, Pagenaud, Carlos Munoz (#29 Andretti Autosport Honda), Newgarden, Robert Wickens (#6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda), and Rahal.
Power’s win also vaults him into a narrow series lead over Rossi and Newgarden.
The Verizon IndyCar Series continues next weekend (June 1-3) with the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.
Race results: Indianapolis 500
|Pos||Num||Driver||C/E/T||Race time/Split||Pit stops||Status||Grid pos|
|9||6||Robert Wickens (R)||D/H/F||+9.3112||7||Running||18|
|13||4||Matheus Leist (R)||D/C/F||+14.7798||5||Running||11|
|19||19||Zachary Claman DeMelo (R)||D/H/F||+1 lap||6||Running||13|
|20||21||Spencer Pigot||D/C/F||+1 lap||8||Running||6|
|21||17||Conor Daly||D/H/F||+1 lap||9||Running||33|
|22||59||Max Chilton||D/C/F||+2 laps||10||Running||20|
|23||26||Zach Veach||D/H/F||+2 laps||10||Running||25|
|24||7||Jay Howard||D/H/F||+7 laps||10||Running||28|
|25||14||Tony Kanaan||D/C/F||+13 laps||7||Contact||10|
|26||24||Sage Karam||D/C/F||+46 laps||4||Contact||24|
|27||3||Helio Castroneves||D/C/F||+55 laps||4||Contact||8|
|28||18||Sebastien Bourdais||D/H/F||+63 laps||4||Contact||5|
|29||32||Kyle Kaiser (R)||D/C/F||+90 laps||5||Mechanical||17|
|30||13||Danica Patrick||D/C/F||+133 laps||2||Contact||7|
|31||10||Ed Jones||D/H/F||+143 laps||2||Contact||29|
|32||30||Takuma Sato||D/H/F||+154 laps||1||Contact||16|
|33||33||James Davison||D/C/F||+155 laps||1||Contact||19|
|22||Zachary Claman DeMelo||72|