By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Will Power closed the Belle Isle era with a Team Penske victory Sunday, taking the final Detroit Grand Prix on the island park to reclaim the IndyCar points lead.
Power held off Alexander Rossi in the closing laps — extending Rossi’s losing streak to nearly three years — for his first win of the season. All three Team Penske drivers have a win through seven IndyCar races this season.
The win for the Australian was redemption from a year ago when Power controlled the first race of the Belle Isle doubleheader. A late caution brought out a red flag and Power’s car couldn’t start for the finish.
This year’s Belle Isle finale was only one IndyCar race as the event will return to its original downtown street course layout in 2023.
The victory was a celebration for Chevrolet, the race sponsor, and its headquarters loom over the Belle Isle course. It gave Chevrolet its 100th victory since it returned to IndyCar competition in 2012.
And it was, of course, a celebration for team owner Roger Penske, a longtime Detroit resident and promoter of the race. For Power, the 41st win of his career moved him within one of Michael Andretti for fourth place.
“It was a very, very good performance mentally for me,” Power said. “I always judge my performances and I really left nothing on the table and I got right in that sweet spot in the zone. That’s how I was able to pump out quick laps.”
Rossi, who this week confirmed he’s moving to Arrow McLaren SP next season, used a three-stop strategy to rally from his 11th-place starting position and drive through the field to contend for the win. But Power, who started 16th, had already taken control of the race and Rossi could only try to close the gap.
Although Rossi made it close as both drivers were dealing with traffic, Power beat him to the finish by 1.0027-seconds. Power won for the third time in Detroit.
“I think one more lap would have been really interesting,” said Rossi. “We’re finally just executing at our potential.”
Scott Dixon was third for Chip Ganassi Racing and followed by pole-sitter Josef Newgarden of Penske.
Pato O’Ward of McLaren was fifth, reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou of Ganassi was sixth and followed by teammate Marcus Ericsson, the Indianapolis 500 winner last week.
Kyle Kirkwood was looking for a huge double-duty weekend in Detroit and was on pace to achieve it — he was fastest in the first IndyCar practice — until he injured his right hand in a Saturday morning crash.
Despite the injury, Kirkwood was part of the winning IMSA sports car GTD entry for Vasser Sullivan Racing in Saturday afternoon’s race. But there is no power steering in IndyCar and A.J. Foyt Racing had to make multiple changes for the rookie to be able to handle the car.
Kirkwood was managing it Sunday until he lost control of his car on cold tires to bring his weekend to an early end.
“It’s super disappointing,” Kirkwood said. “It’s all on me, just a big mistake on cold tires.”
Kirkwood this week was announced as the replacement for Alexander Rossi next season at Andretti Autosport.
An uninspiring start to the season turned worse for Graham Rahal when driver error knocked him out at Detroit just two laps into the race. Rahal finished last in the 26-driver field and is coming off a 14th-place finish in last week’s Indianapolis 500.
He said he bottomed out in the second turn in what Rahal deemed “an uncharacteristic mistake.”
“Had a big moment and brushed the wall,” Rahal said. “This is an all-time low for us as a team and for me to make mistakes like that isn’t helping. Need to hit the reset button.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver got a 14th-place finish from rookie Christian Lundgaard and 15th from Jack Harvey.
IndyCar races Sunday at Road America in Wisconsin. Palou won the race a year ago, and was site of Rossi’s last victory back in 2019.
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