Australia's Power captures long-coveted Indianapolis 500 win

Chicago (AFP) –


Will Power became the first Australian to win the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, taking the chequered flag in America's fabled race on his 11th attempt.

Power, runner-up on the 2.5-mile oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015, was screaming into his radio mic as he crossed the line 3.1589 seconds ahead of pole sitter Ed Carpenter.

New Zealand's Scott Dixon, winner in 2008, was third, 2016 winner Alexander Rossi fourth and 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth.

"Man, I just can't believe it," said Power, the 2014 IndyCar Series champion who gave team owner Roger Penske a 17th victory in the Indy 500 -- the most for any owner.

The victory was the 34th of Power's IndyCar career, tying him for eighth place on the all-time list with two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr.

Power -- who also won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on a multi-turn layout at the speedway earlier this month -- took over the series points lead after six of 17 races, with an 11-point edge over Penske teammate Josef Newgarden.

For a driver who once struggled on oval circuits, the victory on the most iconic oval of them all was the realization of a long-cherished dream.

"I always wondered if I was going to win it, and thoughts went through my mind, in my career," Power said.

"I've had so many wins, and so many poles, but everybody always talked about the 500. I just couldn't imagine winning a race in front of a crowd like this. It's just amazing. What an event. I love it."

Power, who started from the outside of the front row of the starting grid, was running fourth on the race's final restart from a caution and had moved up to third with five laps remaining.

Power clearly had plenty of speed in the second half of the 200-lap race, but in the end the way opened for him as race leader Stefan Wilson and second-placed Jack Harvey had to pit for fuel with just over four laps remaining.

"I'm just like 'I have to get these guys, I don't know how much fuel they've got, this is the restart of my life,'" Power said.

"And then I go on and two pit and I'm like 'Man, I think I'm going to win this!'

"I'm screaming ? with one to go I'm screaming 'Man I've got this.'"

- Big names crash out -

A stream of marquee names had fallen by the wayside by then. Takuma Sato's title defence ended on the 47th lap when the Japanese driver crashed into slow-moving James Davison.

Danica Patrick, who said the race would be the last of her groundbreaking 20-year racing career, hit the wall on the 68th lap.

"Today was really disappointing, for what we were hoping for and what you want for your last race," said the 36-year-old American, the only woman to win an IndyCar race and start from pole at the Daytona 500. "But I'm grateful for all of it. I wish I could have finished stronger."

France's Sebastian Bourdais, back at Indy a year after he suffered hip and pelvic injuries in qualifying last year,three-time winner Helio Castroneves of Brazil and 2013 winner Tony Kanaan of Brazil also failed to make it to the finish.

Castroneves hit the wall while running in the top five on lap 146.

"Probably went wide in turn three and probably was a little of dust in the tires and then as soon as I came to three and I tried to pass Simon (Pagenaud) but the rear just gave out," Castroneves said.

"I was not expecting (it), I never had a sign. The car was good. It was definitely tough out there."

He immediately petitioned team owner Penske for another shot saying: "Please Roger, I've got to go back."