INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – As Will Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway main straightaway for the final few hundred yards of the INDYCAR Grand Prix today, team owner Roger Penske finally took his eyes off a monitor, peered into the distance down the track and started clapping.
Power crossed the famed “yard of bricks” and, by the time his sleek, silver machine was adjacent to his pit box at the northernmost point of pit road, “The Captain” waved a triumphant right hand to his driver.
“It’s a great feeling to see the car in the lead at the end of the last lap, especially here,” Penske said from his pit stand, as Power’s crew began to celebrate the Australian’s second career INDYCAR Grand Prix victory on the IMS road course.
Penske, an 80-year-old Hall of Fame legend, has already forgotten more about winning at IMS than most everyone else will experience combined. It’s simple math. His cars have won a record 16 Indianapolis 500s and now three INDYCAR Grands Prix.
He’s written the map on IMS directions to victory lane. This day, he drove the golf cart for the brief ride to the hoopla.
“That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?” he said of the record number of celebrations. “It’s just a great day for the team. Will did a great job. It was a fabulous race.”
Power led 61 of the 85 laps on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course to win this race for the second time, the other victory in 2015. His 30th career win also moved him past teammate Helio Castroneves and Team Penske driver coach Rick Mears for 11th place alone on the all-time Indy car win list.
Penske didn’t hesitate to look ahead just moments after the win.
“We’re going to try to make it another in a couple of weeks,” he said of the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28.
It didn’t take long for his five-driver team of Power, Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya to start thinking that way, too. Power was asked if he must flip a switch from driving this race to Monday, when Indy 500 practice begins with the drivers turning significantly faster 225-mph-plus laps on the 2.5-mile oval.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a different deal, a different animal to drive,” Power said. “You’ve got plenty of time to get into a groove, and you get into it pretty quick. You’ve done so many miles around this place. You know it so well, but you should never feel too comfortable.”
Castroneves, who led 24 laps before fading to fifth place, has won three Indy 500s. As his No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was rolled past on pit road, the Brazilian put into perspective what “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” means.
It’s so important, team owner Penske doesn’t even need to broach the topic.
“He doesn’t talk,” Castroneves said of his team owner. “His attitude, obviously the way he comes by, we all want to give that (win) to him. Each individual wants to be the one. We’re going to do everything we can to make that possible. We have five opportunities. I hope we’re the one.”
When told how Penske, in the moments after winning today, had already turned his focus toward the Indy 500, Castroneves smiled.
“I agree. I agree,” Castroneves said, his excited voice sounding eager. “We’re all focused on that and I’m not different. Now let’s focus on the big one.”
Practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 begins Monday. Visit IMS.com to purchase tickets and for more information.
For more information about Team Chevy, visit https://www.facebook.com/TeamChevy/.