Will Power took the lead in the Indianapolis 500 with four laps to go, knew he had it won when he took the white flag all alone and spent the final lap yelling to himself as he pulled away from the field.
“Man,” he said, “I think I’m going to win this!”
The 37-year-old Australian did just that in a dominant performance for Team Penske on Sunday.
He managed his fuel strategy perfectly as Oriol Servia and Jack Harvey had to pit in the closing laps and then made all the right moves to hold off pole winner Ed Carpenter to win his first Indy 500.
The victory capped a perfect month of May for the man from Toowoomba and notched his 33rd career win.
“Can’t believe I came all the way from Toowoomba to be a professional driver and I never expected to be here,” screamed Power after the race.
“I had a great month. I just can’t believe it.
“I was wondering if I would ever win it and thoughts when through my mind during the month, my career.
“I’ve had so many wins, so many poles. Everyone talks about the 500 and I just couldn’t imagine winning a race in front of a crowd like this, this many people. It’s just amazing.”
An IndyCar series champion and four times runner-up, Power delivered a cool, calculated drive on a sizzling hot day to reach Victory Lane and give owner Roger Penske his 17th Indy 500 success.
Power, who started on the front row, was on the charge after the final caution, coming home ahead of polesitter Carpenter and 2008 winner Scott Dixon of New Zealand.
Near-record temperatures at the start created a slick, 3.2km oval and new cars with less downforce proved to be a handful for even the most experienced of drivers.
Defending race winner Takuma Sato crashed out early in IndyCar’s most prestigious race.
Danica Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race, had looked to pen a fairytale finish to her career by adding a second victory but couldn’t even make it to the chequered flag, instead slamming nose-first into the wall midway through the 200-lap race.
Patrick was completing the “Danica Double” after wrecking out at the Daytona 500.
It was the same disappointing end for three-time Brickyard champion Helio Castroneves as he again failed to capture a record-equalling fourth win in what might have also been his last Indy 500.
Penske had said earlier he would bring Castroneves back for a shot at a record-smashing fifth Indy 500 if the 43-year-old could get his fourth but now his Indy future is in question.
“Please Roger I’ve got to come back,” Castroneves pleaded soon after he climbed out of his wreck.