102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500

Will Power and Team Penske Emerge Victorious at the Hottest-Ever Indy 500

 

Performing a 500-mile vehicular marathon at over 220 miles per hour is never easy, but doing so with an ambient temperature of 93 degrees and a track temperature of over 130 degrees is simply on another level—almost a super-human feat. That’s exactly what Will Power, the winner of the 2018 Indy 500, had to endure during Sunday’s three-hour-long, 500-mile race.

The spectacular victory, which saw the Australian cross the line a whopping 3.15 seconds ahead of Indy’s home-hero Ed Carpenter, also marks Team Penske’s 17th Indy 500 in the team’s 50-year history. Furthermore, this marks the first time the same driver/team has won the IndyCar Grand Prix and the Indy 500 during the month of May, further reinforcing Roger Penske’s dominance over the sport and adding one more Baby Borg to his already extensive collection.

While Power’s attitude and level of energy were exuberant following his win, the race itself got off to a relatively quiet and calm start after Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth’s waving of the green flag. The field of 33 drivers made it cleanly through the first lap around the 2.5-mile oval and proceeded to run interrupted for 48 laps, when last year’s winner Takuma Sato couldn’t avoid a slowing-down Anthony Davidson and collided into the back of his Honda.

Just as the first yellow flag slowed down the field of amped-up racing drivers, superstar DJs Deadmau5 and Diplo accelerated the already artificially enhanced senses of Snake Pit aficionados. A crowd of tens-of-thousands of partygoers let loose on the infield of Turn 3 courtesy of sick beats and special effects that have become a staple of the festival-like gathering. And while most Snake Pit “casualties” are caused by the overconsumption of alcohol, the scorching weather managed to send dozens of attendees into medical offices around the track for heat-related injuries this year.

Back on the iconic oval, it was crowd-favorite Tony Kanaan who had made his way to the front of the pack after Ed Carpenter led for a stunning 65 laps. The race-winning Brazilian pitted for fuel and new tires only to realize one of his new rubbers had a puncture, which forced him to come into the pits almost immediately and sent him all the way back to 23rd place. From that moment on, Kanaan struggled with the balance of his car, much like Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves did before the rear of their racing machines suddenly snapped sideways and rammed them into the wall. Kanaan ultimately made it back to 9th place before enjoying the same fate and crashing out on Turn 2 on lap 189, just 11 shy of the ultimate goal.

The last yellow flag of the race gave drivers like Power, Dixon, and Carpenter the opportunity to pit one last time, but it also gave Stefan Wilson, the brother of the late Justin Wilson, a glimmer of hope when he suddenly found himself leading the 500-mile race with just eight laps until the chequered flag fell. Sadly, Wilson simply didn’t have the fuel to make it to the finish and was forced to surrender the lead to Power when he dived into the pits for a full-service stop.

From that moment on it was Power’s race to lose, but that never happened. The Aussie drove the last few laps of the race like his life depended on them, and crossed the line in dominating fashion while screaming joyously through his onboard radio. All Carpenter and Dixon could do was simply watch and congratulate the Penske racer as they accepted their fate as second- and third-place finishers at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

After a well-deserved victory lap, Power made his way back to the winner’s circle and proudly put on the BorgWarner wreath and took a big gulp of the winner’s milk before splashing it all over himself, his car, and the Indy 500 Princess.

“I came all the way from Toowoomba, Australia,” said Power. “I never expected to be a professional racing driver. Yet, I’m here. I can’t believe I won the Indy 500.”

 

Written By: Jerry Perez

Photos: IndyCar