Power tops field at Watkins Glen

Say goodbye to the Penske jinx at Watkins Glen International.

Will Power celebrates on Victory Lane after winning the IndyCar Series Watkins Glen Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen in Watkins Glen

Will Power celebrates on Victory Lane after winning the IndyCar Series Watkins Glen Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen in Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Say goodbye to the Penske jinx at Watkins Glen International.

Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe had combined to win the first five poles since the IndyCar Series began racing at the storied road course in upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region, but neither had followed with a win.

Will Power changed that with a dominant victory from the pole position for Sunday’s Camping World Grand Prix, leading 45-of-60 laps over the 11-turn, 3.4-mile layout.

“I just gave it everything I’ve got,” said Power, who swept the first two races of the season but hadn’t won since. “I wanted to win really badly. I hadn’t won for a while. It’s the first race I pushed the whole way. It was a difficult race. I loved it.”

Power beat Briscoe by 1.2 seconds and Dario Franchitti finished third, followed by Raphael Matos and Mario Moraes, his best finish of the season. After one week driving in NASCAR, Danica Patrick finished 20th, one spot ahead of where she started.

Power, the only multiple winner this year, now leads Franchitti by 32 points in the IndyCar standings. His victory gave Penske Racing five wins in nine events this season and its 59th triumph on road or street courses, tops in open-wheel racing.

The top spot was down to teammates after the second and final full-course caution. Power was beaten out of the pits by Briscoe and was second when the race went green on lap 43.

It didn’t take Power long to regain the top spot. He passed Briscoe on the next lap entering the chicane at the top of the hill coming off the high-speed esses.

“I knew that was my only chance,” Power said. “I got a run on him. That was the key to winning the race, was getting him then. Once it spread out and we went back to saving fuel to get to the end, I don’t think I could have got him. It was just determination.”

Franchitti passed Briscoe for second at the same spot two laps later but never mounted a serious challenge. Briscoe passed him back entering the first turn, a 90-degree right-hander, of the final lap.

“I was pushing 100 per cent from start to finish,” Briscoe said. “I wanted to keep the pressure on. I saw his tires going away faster than mine. I wish I could have held on to the win. But this was an important race for us (Penske). We hadn’t won here yet.”

Toronto’s Paul Tracy finished 14th in his first race of the season, while Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., was 17th.

The complexion of the race changed early when Castroneves, who started second, and Scott Dixon made contact on the back straight heading up through the esses on lap 7. The contact punctured the left rear tire of Castroneves’ No. 3 Penske Honda and Dixon’s front wing was damaged, forcing both to pit.

On different strategies the remainder of the race, they ran up front when the other cars made their first pit stops but never could challenge Power. Dixon finished eighth, one spot in front of Castroneves and more than 12 seconds behind the winner.

Power was in command from the start, leading the first 18 laps before pitting for the first time. Dixon inherited the lead for the next 10 laps before pitting again and Power resumed control, ahead of Briscoe and Matos.