Australia's Will Power held off a hard-charging Helio Castroneves Sunday to win the Edmonton Indy and narrow the gap on points leader Dario Franchitti.
Power started second, overtook polesitter and leader Takuma Sato a quarter of the way through the race, then held off his Team Penske teammate to win by eight-tenths of a second.
“It was exactly the day we needed,” said Power.
Franchitti finished third, 1.2 seconds off the pace in the 80-lap race, run under sunny skies on the road course at the 2.2-mile, 13-turn City Centre Airport.
Power now has 350 points in the championship standings. He remains second behind Franchitti, but Franchitti's lead has been cut from 55 to 38 points with seven races to go.
Franchitti, with Target Chip Ganassi, said he threw away a chance at a win near the midpoint of the race, when Mike Conway was leading the other cars on a double-file restart.
Conway didn't accelerate as soon as the green flag came out.
“I didn't see the green flag,” said Conway. “It's just something I've got to learn when up front.”
Franchitti said he thought he was supposed to wait until the end of the straightaway to accelerate. “I screwed up. I lost a bunch of track position,” said the 38-year-old Scotsman.
“I'm disappointed in myself.”
Franchitti got caught up in the wash and fell back to 10th before working his way back up the field.
“I was catching Will and Helio really quickly, but unfortunately once I got there I couldn't do anything with them. But it was a nice recovery from the whole team.”
Power zoomed past Conway on that restart to gain back a lead he had lost briefly on a pit stop sequence.
“I think that pass right there was the pass for the race win,” he said.
Castroneves said he was happy with second place, given his season of mediocre finishes.
“It was awesome,” said the 36-old Brazilian. “After the season we've been having, this is like a victory.”
Castroneves actually crossed the finish line first at last year's Edmonton event, but was black-flagged for blocking Power and the race win was given to Scott Dixon.
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont., was the top Canadian.
He started 10th, but fell five spots in the first nine laps and ended up 15th.
“It was probably our worst race so far this season,” said Hinchcliffe, with Newman/Haas Racing.
“We had high hopes coming in, but right from the start we could tell the car wasn't very good. We struggled to keep pace and a bunch of guys got by us.”
Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., overcame a broken wing and a drive-through penalty to start and finish 17th.
He said his No. 77 car was not handling well, especially on the faster red-rimmed Firestone alternate tires.
“We have to find out why our setup was not working all weekend on these tires. That is what really cost us in this race,” said Tagliani.
Toronto driver Paul Tracy got caught up in a multicar crash with Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra halfway through the first lap and finished dead last in the 26-car field.
Tagliani was one of four drivers issued drive-through penalties for failing to avoid contact. Tagliani rear-ended Graham Rahal on the first lap and ended his day.
It seemed IndyCar officials, after a crash-filled race in Toronto two weeks ago, were enforcing more of a “zero-tolerance” policy.
Power said stricter enforcement was needed.
“It will deter people from doing it again,” he said.
“They know if they're going to hit someone, they're going to get a drive-through and they're going to go to the back (of the field) as well.”
It has been a sore point for Power.
He was knocked out of contention in Toronto when he and Franchitti came together on a corner. The Scotsman wasn't penalized, but Power said he should have been, labelling him a reckless and “dirty” driver.
He said his feud with Franchitti ended after warmup on Sunday.
“He walked by, and that was the first time we made eye contact and I sort of smiled,” said Power.
“I guess we were both playing a bit of mind games with each other. But at the end of the day, you race how you race.”
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