DETROIT (AP) — Will Power gave Roger Penske and Chevrolet what they desperately wanted by winning the first of two races at the Detroit Grand Prix on Saturday.
Power finished 0.3308 seconds ahead of Graham Rahal on the bumpy, 13-turn, 2.36-mile street circuit on Belle Isle.
Power, who started a season-worst 16th, took the lead for good with just more than 10 laps to go when he passed Ryan Briscoe. The Australian held off Rahal to join Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay as the IndyCar drivers with two victories through six races.
Power, who won IndyCar’s season-opening race, has 23 career victories to break a tie with Emerson Fittipaldi and Tony Bettenhausen for 19th.
His latest victory had to be especially sweet for Penske and Chevy.
Penske had not won an open-wheel race in the area he calls home since Helio Castroneves finished first in 2001. And for Chevy, which sponsors the race, it was relegated to watching Honda dominate the previous three races in the shadow of its world headquarters.
Before the race on a sun-splashed afternoon, Honda executives talked about how they could walk around rival Chevy officials with their chests puffed out. After the 70-lap race, they had to settle for Rahal’s second-place finish.
Tony Kanaan was third followed by Justin Wilson and pole-sitter Helio Castroneves.
Hunter-Reay, meanwhile, failed to follow up the biggest win of his career with a 16th-place finish. He was on the last lap, but did not make it to the finish line because he spun into a tire wall to end the race. He started 21st in the 22-car field because he brushed a wall on his second lap during Saturday morning’s qualifying session.
Simon Pagenaud and Mike Conway each won last year on Belle Isle and both lost their shot to win early Saturday.
Pagenaud damaged his front left suspension when he ran into the back of Power, leading to a yellow. Conway did not have any one around him when he appeared to understeer into a wall on Lap 15, putting the race under caution.
Both will get another shot to repeat at the Detroit Grand Prix on Sunday as part of IndyCar’s first of three doubleheaders this season.