Photo: Joe Skibinski
Simon Pagenaud (#22Team Penske, Chevy) came into Road America with an 80-point lead on Scott Dixon (#9 Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevy) and an 86-point edge on teammate Helio Castroneves (#3).
Will Power (#12 Penske) started on pole next to Dixon. Another Ganassi-Penske split occupied Row 2, Tony Kanaan (#10 Ganassi) starting third and Pagenaud fourth. Castroneves started P5, ahead of the best-qualifying Honda, Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing).
Power, Dixon, and Kanaan held their positions through the first lap. Dixon suffered an engine failure at the start of Lap 7, moving Kanaan to second and Pagenaud to third. Rahal passed Pagenaud for third two laps later. Power’s lead over Kanaan was 6.2 sec during Lap 12 (of 50). Power and Kanaan pitted to start Lap 13.
Rahal and Pagenaud followed suit one lap later. Rahal reentered in P2, ahead of Kanaan, but the Brazilian retook the place. Power’s lead on Kanaan measured 3.5 sec during Lap 19, 2 sec less than immediately after the pit stops. Kanaan pitted in Lap 26. Power, Rahal, and Pagenaud all came in the next lap.
Rahal again came out ahead of Kanaan, and Kanaan again passed him to retake P2. Pagenaud took third from Rahal during Lap 35, moving past Kanaan for P2 later in the same lap. Power’s lead on Pagenaud was 5 sec, but the Frenchman was running 1 sec/lap quicker. All the leaders except Pagenaud and Rahal came in for their final scheduled stop to start Lap 39.
Pagenaud and Rahal both pitted one lap later, both returning to competition behind Power and in front Kanaan, who once again passed Rahal on track following the stop. Conor Daly suffered a mechanical failure immediately after the pit cycle ended, bringing out the race’s first caution with 10 laps to go.
Competition restarted with six laps left. Kanaan took second from Pagenaud with 5 laps remaining. Rahal took third from him one lap later, with the #22 reporting engine problems. Kanaan closed to with 0.5 sec of Power with 2 laps to go.
Power held on for the win ahead of Kanaan and Rahal, Pagenaud fading to P13.
"I really believe that the extra lap of yellow at the end cost me the race,” said Kanaan. “I don't know all of the details about what happened with the extended yellow, but I'm obviously not in control of that. Will did a really good job of saving his push to passes until the last lap. We had the red tires (in the last laps) which was a little quicker and we were just chasing Will down. Towards the end we had one push to pass which gave us extra power but he had three so he had an advantage on us, but what a great race. Down the straightaways I was able to look at the fans on the last two laps and people were standing and spinning hats and shirts and that's what I love to see. I hope (the fans) enjoyed it as much as I did and they come back because we'll make it even better next year."