Aussie Power captures long-coveted Indy 500 win
Chicago, May 28 (AFP) Will Power became the first Australian to win the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, taking the chequered flag in America's fabled race on his 11th attempt.
"Overwhelming. Amazing," Power said of his triumph on the 2.5-mile oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he was runner-up in 2015.
"It's funny, you forget where you are, you're so immersed in the race," said Power, who crossed the line 3.1589 seconds ahead of pole sitter Ed Carpenter.
"On the white flag lap I started screaming because I just knew I was going to win it. Unbelievable. Never been so excited." New Zealand's Scott Dixon, winner in 2008, was third, 2016 winner Alexander Rossi fourth and 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth.
Power, the 2014 IndyCar Series champion, gave team owner Roger Penske a 17th victory in the Indy 500 -- the most for any owner.
The victory was the 34th of Power's IndyCar career, tying him for eighth place on the all-time list with two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr.
For a driver who once struggled on oval circuits, the victory on the most iconic oval of them all was the realization of a long-cherished dream.
"I always wondered if I was going to win it, and thoughts went through my mind, in my career," Power said.
"I've had so many wins, and so many poles, but everybody always talked about the 500 ... I've been thinking, 'Am I going to finish my career without a 500 win?'" Power, who started from the outside of the front row was running fourth on the race's final restart from a caution and had moved up to third with five laps remaining.
"That last restart I was very determined," said Power who had plenty of speed in the second half of the 200-lap race. "I knew that I had to get a run on these guys, at least get one of them in the first turn, which I didn't.
"I got Oriol (Servia) I think a lap later or something." In the end the way opened for him as race leader Stefan Wilson and second-placed Jack Harvey had to pit for fuel with just over four laps remaining.
When he saw that, Power said, "I'm like, 'Man, I think I'm going to win this!'" Power said the victory was "the last box to tick to be considered a very successful driver".
"I'm not done," added the Aussie, who took over the IndyCar series points lead after six of 17 races with a two-point lead over Rossi. "I still have plenty of time left to win more 500s and championships and races." - Big names crash out -
A stream of marquee names had fallen by the wayside by then. Takuma Sato's title defence ended on the 47th lap when the Japanese driver crashed into slow-moving James Davison.
Danica Patrick, who said the race would be the last of her groundbreaking 20-year racing career, hit the wall on the 68th lap.
"Today was really disappointing, for what we were hoping for and what you want for your last race," said the 36-year-old American, the only woman to win an IndyCar race and start from pole at the Daytona 500. "But I'm grateful for all of it. I wish I could have finished stronger."
France's Sebastian Bourdais, back at Indy a year after he suffered hip and pelvic injuries in qualifying last year, three-time winner Helio Castroneves of Brazil and 2013 winner Tony Kanaan of Brazil also failed to make it to the finish.
Castroneves hit the wall while running in the top five on lap 146.
"Probably went wide in turn three and probably was a little of dust in the tires and then as soon as I came to three and I tried to pass Simon (Pagenaud) but the rear just gave out," Castroneves said.
"I was not expecting (it), I never had a sign. The car was good. It was definitely tough out there." He immediately petitioned team owner Penske for another shot saying: "Please Roger, I've got to go back