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Power leads Penske 1-2 at Edmonton

25 July 2011

It's been a rough month for Will Power, with two DNFs and an ongoing verbal falling out with championship leader and arch rival Dario Franchitti, but he answered his critics and doubters in the best way possible - by clinching one of his most calm and intelligent victories yet.

Power started the Edmonton Indy from second place behind Takuma Sato, but lost a position to Scott Dixon at the green flag as the inside line proved the place to be. He didn't worry about it or try and force the issue to get the position back, and instead simply waited until the next double file restart - when he neatly did unto Dixon what the Kiwi had done unto him at the start, and took back the second spot.

He was rewarded by being in just the right position to take advantage of a lock-up by Sato on lap 18 and the Australian duly took the lead through the apex of turn 13. Power would subsequently lose the lead due to mixed pit strategies during the second caution period of the day on lap 27, but quickly reclaimed it with a smooth pass on Alex Tagliani and thereafter was only out of the lead fleetingly as the final round of pit stops cycled through.

Sato was also quickly dispatched by the two Ganassi drivers on lap 19, but Dixon's #9 was damaged during the second restart when it was speared in the side by a lunging EJ Viso into the turn 5 hairpin and had to spend five laps in pit lane to have a new radiator fitted; Franchitti was right behind the collision and had to brake and manoeuvre around it, which dropped him down six positions and left him spending the rest of the race working his way back up in damage limitation mode.

As a result of the early jostling, Helio Castroneves emerged up in second place in the second half of the race, with Dario finally popping back up in third place thanks to a very long run before his final pit stop that allowed him to make up track position on the earlier stoppers. This set up a close three-way fight between Power, Castroneves and Franchitti for the final stint of the race, but despite running nose-to-tail none of the top three could get a jump on any of the others and nor did anyone make any mistakes, so they arrived at the chequered flag on lap 80 in that same order.

Power and Castroneves' Penske team mate Ryan Briscoe looked set to join his comrades in the top four until the very last minute, when an unexpected fuel shortage forced him into a costly splash-and-dash just before the final lap that put him down to tenth; Tony Kanaan benefited and picked up the position, ahead of strong finishes for Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais in fifth and sixth.

Despite fears that the race could be as messy and crash-filled as Toronto, there were actually only two yellows during the afternoon. The first came right at the start when Alex Tagliani made an over-optimistic lunge down the inside of turn 5 and smashed his front wing into Graham Rahal's rear left tyre; the tyre blew and Rahal spun off, but then spun back onto the track and into a nasty heavy crash with an unfortunate Paul Tracy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The second came with a strangely dopey move by Mike Conway, half-poking his nose down the inside of Oriol Servia at turn 12 in an unconvincing attempt at a pass that instead tossed the #2 car into the tyre wall. Servia was extricated from the barrier and looked set to carry on, but his rear wing promptly fell off to disabuse him of any such thoughts and he headed to the pits for repairs.

One incident that didn't bring out a full course caution and was treated under local waved yellows was a clash between Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay on lap 39, when Hunter-Reay punted the polesitter into a spin at turn 5 that left the Japanese former F1 driver needing a restart and a lap down. Hunter-Reay was penalised for causing the accident but still managed to finish in seventh place, just ahead of his team mates Conway (also penalised for the clash with Servia) in eighth and Danica Patrick in ninth, after starting from 22nd on the grid.

Full race results and positions also available.
Post-race quotes also available.


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