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Pocono: Power’s win tightens championship race

Will Power's fourth win of the 2016 IndyCar season, allied to team-mate Simon Pagenaud crashing out, has brought the pair closer together in the title race.

It's a whole new race for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship as Will Power's win in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway saw the Kiwi close to within 20 points of the top of the standings.

Team Penske driver Power held off pole winner Mikhail Aleshin by 1.1459secs on the 2.5-mile 'Tricky Triangle' to collect his fourth win of the season and 29th of his Indycar career and, while it tied him with a pair of Team Penske greats - Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves - for eleventh on the all-time victory list, it also reduced the gap to current team-mate and points leader Simon Pagenaud at the top of the table.

"I love winning 500-mile races and this is one of the toughest ovals that we race on," said Power, whose other 500-mile victory came in the 2013 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

The 200-lap race was delayed a day after heavy rain Sunday forced its postponement but, starting eighth, Power gradually moved his #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to the front, albeit not taking his first lead until lap 64.

"The car started off really, really difficult to drive," said the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, who led 55 laps on the day, including the last 36, "We adjusted on it all day and, for the second half of the race, the car was just awesome."

Meanwhile, points leader Pagenaud crashed out of the race on lap 158 and was classified 18th in the #22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, which saw his cushion trimmed by 38 points with three races remaining on the 2016 schedule, including the completion of the rain-suspended Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend..

"We are chipping away at it and, obviously, there is still a lot to go," said Power, who sat out the season opener at St Petersburg with an inner-ear infection but ran his string of finishing first or second to the last six completed races, "Now we will give it everything. We will give it everything because we really want to win this championship."

Runner-up Aleshin led a race - and career - high 87 laps in equalling his best IndyCar finish. The driver of the #7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda shadowed Power over the closing 18 laps but couldn't make the pass for the lead.

"I'm very proud of my team and everyone who works on the SMP Racing car," said Aleshin, the first Russian driver to win an Indycar pole position. "They did a fantastic job today and it paid off. Will was just faster in the end and I couldn't do anything with him.

"When I was catching him, I almost put my car into the wall a couple of times, but I still couldn't overtake him. He has a fair win, for sure, but I'm happy to be in second place because we had some difficult moments this race and this year, so this is a good position to move forward."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, winner of the 2015 ABC Supply 500, charged from last place on the starting grid to finish third. The American moved into the lead by lap 49 and ran up front until an electronics malfunction in his #28 DHL Honda on lap 163 dropped him a lap down. The Andretti Autosport driver got back on the lead lap during the last caution period and raced from twelth place to third over the final 20 laps.

"I had to come through the field twice and that is heartbreaking for us," Hunter-Reay said. "This is the type of year it has been, really heartbreaking. The DHL Honda really deserved to be in contention for the win there at the end.

"I was going through turn two and [the car] just shut off. I [power-] cycled the car once and nothing happened, then I came into the pits and power cycled it again - turned it off, on - and then it refired and we were a lap down. I had to come through the field twice, but the car was a rocket ship. It's a shame."

2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves and Charlie Kimball were involved in a pit-lane incident on lap 64. As Rossi was exiting his pit, his car made contact with Kimball, who was entering his pit, before being launched over the top of Castroneves.

None of the drivers was injured. Kimball continued and finished 15th, but the contact ended the day for both Castroneves and Rossi. Takuma Sato also emerged unscathed after crashing in turn one on the opening lap.

The season will now continue with the Firestone 600, which will pick up on lap 72 of a scheduled 248 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday (27 August).

Tagged as: Penske , Will Power , Pocono

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power Texas
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Helio Castroneves 2017 Indy 500 practice
Will Power Indy 500 practice
Simon Pagenaud Phoenix IndyCar
Josef Newgarden, Penske, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Will Power - Team Penske
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Btyan Clauson tribute at Pocono   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Chris Owens]
Justin Wilson tribute at Pocono   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Mikhail Aleshin - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Chris Owens]
Mikhail Aleshin - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Mikhail Aleshin - Schmidt Peterson Motorsports   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Chris Jones]

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