Power, Chevrolet win in final Belle Isle race


In what would be the final race at the famed Belle Isle Street Circuit in Detroit, Michigan, Will Power and his number 12 Chevrolet-powered machine would take the win in front of the home base for Chevrolet; overcoming a 16th place starting position and a late charge from Andretti’s Alexander Rossi for his first win of 2022 and redemption for the awful finish in 2021.

The win marks Chevrolet’s 100th since the inception of the 2.2L V6 engines in 2012 in the NTT IndyCar Series and pushes Power to win number 41 of his career – his first since August 2021. Power takes control of the NTT IndyCar Series Driver’s standings by 3 points over Marcus Ericsson and Pato O’Ward with 255 pts on the season.


Gambling pays off

As the green flag fell Sunday afternoon, teams rapidly deployed tire and fuel strategies before cars even finished the first laps of the race. Alexander Rossi, on a 3-stop plan, pitted on lap 4 to change from the red “alternate” tires for the more consistent and durable  black “primary” tires while the Ganassi and Penske camps opted to leave their drivers out longer on the alternates for a 2-stop strategy – one that would require both fuel and tire saving over the first stint of the race – as they attempted to maximize the less durable, but superior paced tires.

Even then, there was variety of choice in that plan – Ganassi left Dixon out for 27 laps on their first set of primary tires before pitting for the alternates and then pitted Dixon back to primaries on lap 45. Power, however, took a different gamble – one that nearly cost him the race – by doing the first two stint’s on primaries before pitting with 20 laps to go for the alternates.

This put the focus on Rossi – running a three stop strategy with his final pit stop 3 laps prior to Power for primary tires – as the main threat for the win. As Power exited pit lane for the final time on Lap 51, he held a gap over Rossi of just over 16 seconds with the Andretti driver rapidly cutting down that margin.

With 10 laps left, Rossi had narrowed the gap to just over 12 seconds as Power began to catch Jack Harvey, the last car on the lead lap. On lap 8, Power final caught the number 45 machine, but as the last driver on the lead lap – and one that was maintaining pace – Power was unable to request he move out of the way a lapped-car would, allowing Rossi to chop massive chunks of time from his once 16 second lead.

Three laps to go saw Rossi within 6.5 seconds of the leader, still stuck behind Harvey in dirty air with rapidly decaying alternate tires. As Power took the white flag for the final lap of the Belle Isle, Rossi was 2.8 seconds behind and charging fast. With no push to pass and Power’s masterful care of his tires, Rossi was unable to catch the Australian and Power would narrowly hang on to beat the Andretti driver to the finish line by 1.0027 seconds 20 laps later.

Scott Dixon, fresh off heartbreak in Indianapolis, rebounded for the final podium spot finishing roughly 6 seconds back of Rossi, ahead of pole-sitter Josef Newgarden and Ganassi teammate Alex Palou.

Caution free

Belle Isle was the first race of 2022 to go caution-free, though the race was not without it’s moments as several drivers faced issues that prevented them from finishing the race. Graham Rahal was the first victim of the day, hitting the wall with the right-rear of his United Rentals Honda and destroying the suspension in the process – his day would end on lap 2. Lap 21 saw the 06 of Helio Castroneves retire with an electrical gremlin that prevented him from seeing anything on his steering wheel and disabled the ability to shift gears.

Penske driver Scott Mclaughlin also had his share in the trouble, spinning his number 3 Gallagher Chevrolet into the runoff in turn 3 when he ran wide into the marbles and lost control under braking. He was however, able to right his bright-blue machine and recovered to finish 1-lap down in 19th position.

The final driver to have his day turned around was rookie Kyle Kirkwood, retiring on lap 49 after his final pitstop when he lost control on cold tires and smacked the wall with left rear tire, breaking a control arm in the process and ending what was set to be a stellar finish for the A.J Foyt camp. Kirkwood was also involved in an incident on Friday when his rear brakes failed on him number 14 ROKiT machine causing him to collide with fellow rookie David Malukas and forced him into a tire barrier head on, injuring his hand in the process.

Impressively, the young driver from Florida came back to secure pole position after the first wreck on Friday, competing in the IMSA GTD class later that day in his number 17 Lexus RCF and went on to win on Saturday with teammate Ben Barnicoat for Vasser Sullivan Racing.

Up next: The land of lakes, cheese curds, and racing

The NTT IndyCar series heads to the site of Alexander Rossi’s last win in 2019 – Road American in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The over 4 mile, 14 turn circuit is one of the fastest permanent race tracks in the world, hosting a variety of racing series going back to the mid-1950’s. Built in 1955, Road America has been one of the few circuits in North America that has retained its original configuration since the beginning and currently hosts over 400 events at the facility each year.

Currently Road America is home to championship rounds for NTT Indycar, the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series, GT World Challenge America, SCCA Trans Am, and Moto America, while being host to countless historic series in the past.

The outright lap record, held by former CART and F1 driver Alex Zanardi, has stood since 1998 at 1:41.874, with the closest challenger being Josef Newgarden who threw down an impressive 1:43.4651 lap during the 2017 Kohler Grand Prix.

Chip Ganassi Racing holds court over the last 3 races at Road America with three different drivers winning. 2020 saw dual races at the circuit, with Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist (now at Arrow McLaren SP) winning the back-to-back July races held under Covid-19 protocol while 2021 saw eventual champion Alex Palou taking the win over Colton Herta.

Race day broadcast begins on Sunday, June 12th at 12:30m ET on NBC/Peacock Network (US).