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Aussie Power captures Indy Grand Prix title

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | Will Power of Australia, driver of the Team Penske Chevrolet greets fans as he is introduced to the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway on April 29, 2017

CHICAGO (AFP) - 

Australia's Will Power captured his 30th career IndyCar victory on Saturday, winning the Grand Prix of Indianapolis by 5.2 seconds over New Zealand's Scott Dixon for his first 2017 triumph.

Pole-sitter Power led 61 of the 85 laps over the 14-turn, 2.439-mile (3.925km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in the final tuneup for the Indianapolis 500, the series namesake oval classic on May 28.

"That was hard work," Power said. "Dixon was closing on me there at the end. I was just trying to manage the margin."

Power, who also won the Indy road race in 2015, struggled with equipment failures before a runner-up effort at Phoenix two weeks ago.

"You have your good and bad runs," Power said. "The good doesn't last forever and the bad doesn't last forever. You have to take it as it comes."

American Ryan Hunter-Reay was third with France's Simon Pagenaud fourth and Brazil's Helio Castroneves fifth in a race with no caution flags.

Castroneves passed Power for the lead after the first series of pit stops but Power retook the lead on lap 46 during the second refuelings and kept the edge after the last set of stops with 20 laps remaining, taking his 27th Indycar road course triumph.

Pagenaud, the 2016 IndyCar season champion who took his first oval victory at Phoenix, saw his season points lead trimmed from 18 to 10 points over Dixon as the Indy 500 loomed.

"I think our package for the 500 this year should be stellar," Dixon said. "We're pushing as hard as we can."

Pagenaud, a top-five finisher in all five races this season, said he never felt comfortable with the tires in practice.

"I couldn't adjust to it," Pagenaud said. "The essential thing is a did my best. I kept the lead in the championship points. If you can be disappointed with fourth it's a good sign."

Pagenaud and his rivals will have a week of practice on the oval ahead of next weekend's Indy 500 qualifying and said moments after the race his shift into oval mode was "already done."

"I feel like we're going to be strong," he said.

© 2017 AFP