Power completes dominating show

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power avoided the bad luck Saturday. He outran everybody else in the IndyCar Grand Prix.

The Australian completed a dominant first weekend in Indianapolis by easily pulling away from Scott Dixon for his first victory of the season and Team Penske’s third in a row. The victory margin of 5.2830 seconds didn’t even seem that close, and Ryan Hunter-Reay was a distant third.

“I was just very conscious of the gap Dixon was closing and I kept thinking ‘He’s going to burn his tires off’ and then he kept closing,” Power said. “Then, boom, suddenly they went and I knew we were good.”

Until this weekend, nothing had come easily for Power this season.

A mechanical problem took him out of the season opener at St. Petersburg.

He seemed destined to win at Alabama until a flat tire forced him to pit and dropped him to 14th.

The following week, at Phoenix, Power also was in contention for the lead — until a caution flag came out while he was already on pit lane. He wound up second, more than nine seconds behind teammate Simon Pagenaud.

In Indy, Power was on a mission to change his misfortunes — and he did.

He posted the fastest lap in practice Friday then won the pole in a track record time. On Saturday, he led 61 of 85 laps, surrendered the lead twice — both after pit stops — and never was passed on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

Power picked up his 30th career win in his 175th career start and moved past teammate Helio Castroneves and former Penske driver Rick Mears into No. 11 on the all-time victory list.

And this time, nothing got between Power and victory lane– not even a caution period

“I think today we got the most out of the car,” Dixon said. “I think Honda was just too much as far as the red tires and the last five laps, we just couldn’t run down Will.”

Power’s teammates had the same problem.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves led the other 24 laps but faded following his final pit stop. He finished fifth, and it marked the second straight race the Penske drivers led every lap.

Pagenaud, the defending series champ, started seventh and wound up fourth.

Josef Newgarden spent most of the day in the top five — until being assessed drive-through penalties for pit-speed violations on back-to-back laps. He finished 11th.

Honda wound up taking five of the next seven spots after Power, starting with Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and Hunter-Reay or Pagenaud finished the day with 10-point lead over Dixon in the standings.

F1 pole is set

MONTMELO, Spain — Lewis Hamilton took pole position ahead of Sebastian Vettel at the Spanish Grand Prix, restoring Mercedes’ dominance in Formula One qualifying on Saturday.

Hamilton gave Mercedes its 19th pole in 20 races, two weeks after F1 leader Vettel had broken its run at the Russian GP in a one-two with Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton was fastest in 1 minute, 19.149 seconds, with Vettel only 0.051 behind.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who won the race in Russia, was third, followed by Raikkonen, setting the stage for another duel between the front-running teams today.

It was Hamilton’s 64th career pole and his third in five races this year, putting the three-time world champion in position to challenge Vettel for the series lead today.

Max Verstappen, the 2016 winner at a record age of 18, and fellow Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo will start the race from fifth and sixth on the grid.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso bounced back from Friday’s breakdown just two laps into practice in fine fashion, making the third session of qualifying for the first time this year.