Pole-sitter Power holds off Kanaan to win at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) Healthy again following an early-season illness, Will Power is feeling much better about his chances of contending for another IndyCar championship.
After starting from the pole, Power led all but four laps and held off Tony Kanaan's last-lap surge to take the 202-mile Kohler Grand Prix by 0.74 seconds on Sunday at Road America.
It was Power's second series victory of the year for Team Penske, both coming in June. Power also won on June 5 at Detroit, ending a frustrating three-race stretch in which he didn't finish higher than 10th.
The slump was uncharacteristic for the 2014 series champion and annual contender.
''I got my normal engine back, and perform like I normally do, and that's the difference,'' said Power, referring to his health.
Power said he was dealing with food allergies in the offseason. He missed the season opener in March at St. Petersburg after being diagnosed with an inner ear infection.
''Finally back to my normal fitness level, just the way I do things,'' Power said.
He had the stamina to hold off Kanaan at the end by 0.7429 seconds as Chevrolet finished 1-2 and took three of the top five spots.
Kanaan shaved about a half-second off the gap with Power after the white flag flew. But he couldn't catch up as the cars winded their way toward the end of the final lap on the 14-turn track.
Those extra ''push-to-pass'' fuel boosts that Power had saved came in handy late in the race. It made for an exciting finish in IndyCar's first race at the rural Wisconsin road course since 2007.
''This is the type of places we want to race. If you ask any driver about this road course, it's one of their favorites by far, and the fans, too,'' Kanaan said.
Track officials said the race weekend broke an attendance record but they did not yet have a specific number.
''We can't wait to come back next year and do it again,'' IndyCar president Jay Frye said.
WHO'S HOT: Power won with a speed of 121.426 mph and cruised from the front for much of the afternoon, leading 46 of the 50 laps. Kanaan said Power benefited from a fast start from the pole.
Power has a fast car, ''but I don't think he was like anywhere stronger,'' Kanaan said. ''We closed the gap any time we needed to, but he just had that little advantage every time because he was in the lead.''
WHO'S NOT: With Power in front, the race reset with six laps to go following the only caution flag of the afternoon, stunting the momentum of points leader Simon Pagenaud, who was then in second place.
But Pagenaud, whose car seemed to improve through the middle of the race, fell back in a surprise at the restart He finished in 13th place.
''I just lost power. Similar to the problem we had at Indy in the Indianapolis 500. We just lost power and you're not going anywhere,'' Pagenaud said. ''You've just got to hang on and get the best result you can.''
NOTABLES: Kanaan surged forward for his best finish of the season. Graham Rahal was third, 5.9 seconds behind Power. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fourth. Scott Dixon, who was second in the points race coming into the afternoon, had engine trouble early and dropped out after six laps when his No. 9 car lost power.
POWERFUL: Power grappled with the tires and car setup in the days leading up to race. He wondered how much faster cars would go around some of the road course's tight curves, given the developments in aero kits and engines over the last decade. Power got acclimated quickly, and his No. 12 Chevy seemed to get better after each practice. The victory moved Power up to third place in the points race with 294 behind Pagenaud (375) and Helio Castroneves (301). Dixon dropped to fourth (285).
COMING BACK: IndyCar has a three-year deal with Road America, and track president George Bruggenthies said the series is set to return on June 25, 2017.
UP NEXT: Iowa Speedway, July 10. Ryan Hunter-Reay is defending race winner.