Starting from fourth, Power reached Turn 1 on the outside of fellow second-row starter Pato O’Ward in the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy, but from fifth, Josef Newgarden had leapt past the pair of them, and then Colton Herta dived down the outside of them from ninth on the grid. The Andretti driver’s attempts to stay on the asphalt caused him to bump wheels with Power, causing the Penske-Chevrolet’s right-front wheel to make slight contact with the left-rear of O’Ward into left-hand Turn 2. That sent the AMSP car into a 180-degree spin, and Power had to hit the brakes in order to slew around the stricken car.
That left the #12 Penske down in 11th at the end of the first lap, and then while he battled with rookie David Malukas on Lap 2, the pair were sent off the track by an overambitious passing attempt by Helio Castroneves at Turn 7, dropping him to 16th.
So when the caution flew on Lap 3 for Dalton Kellett spinning, Power – who like most of his rivals had started on Firestone’s harder primaries – ducked into the pits to grab a set of alternates. Although this obliged him and another early-stopper, O’Ward, to go into fuel-save mode to get back on-strategy with the other front-runners, they took up first and second places, five seconds apart as the others pitted.
They dropped to 19th and 23rd after their second stops on Lap 30, but when Meyer Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud ran out of fuel on track five laps later and brought out a full-course caution, the majority of the field pitted and Power and O’Ward didn’t need to.
Power cycled up to fourth, and despite having to fuel save, was able to go fast enough to maintain his position in the pack, which became third when Herta retired.
With his seventh top-three finish of the season, Power reclaimed the championship lead, nine points ahead of Marcus Ericsson.
“Considering the start of the race, great recovery, man,” said Power. “It’s amazing some of the runs we’ve had this year. But yep, just kept my head and did what I could in the situation. I had to get a big fuel number and go as fast as I can.
“I had to get a big fuel number because we pitted five laps before everyone… Pretty much all the way to the end we were on a number that was definitely holding us back. We had definitely a lot of pace in hand.”
Asked what was the differentiator between his result and that of O’Ward (finished 12th) and Sato (finished 15th), both of whom had followed a similar strategy, Power put it down to his Penske-Chevy, saying: “I think it was our pace on the fuel mileage we had to get. Definitely we were able to make some hay just getting the big fuel numbers that we had to get. We had a great car. The car was really fast.”
Teammates Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden finished fourth and fifth, and the latter has consolidated his third place in the championship, pulling clear of Scott Dixon, gaining on Marcus Ericsson and now sitting 32 points behind Power.