Helio’s gamble paid off and he was able to snatch the lead from Power on his outlap, Lap 24.
For the next stint, most of the field was on blacks. Stint 2 was all about conserving the car for the end of the race. Unlike the last two years, the 2017 Indy GP was hot, in the high 70s, without a single cloud in the sky and only a light breeze to cool things off. This should have killed the option tires, but they were keeping their pace just fine. Most teams made their black tire stint the shortest.
The only car that would not make it through the second stint would be Charlie Kimball who, like Bourdais, also suffered a Honda engine failure on Lap 32. Wait, two Honda failures in one race? Is Alonso really walking into another time bomb in two weeks? No. IndyCar only allows 4 engines per car, per year. All teams want to start the Indy 500 with as fresh of an engine as possible and teams were pushing their first engines for five events. Unfortunately, Ganassi and Coyne pushed their Honda engines just a bit too hard. For Kimball, this broke his streak of 5th place finishes at all three previous Indy Grand Prixs.
Lap 40 kicked off the second round of pitstops. Power was the first of the leaders to come in to get rid of his primary tires and get back onto the options so he could hunt down Castroneves. Helio had pulled out a 4 second lead over his teammate, with Power 12 seconds ahead of 3rd place Dixon. On the black tires, Power had no chance of catching Castroneves, so Power’s team called him in the moment his fuel window opened on Lap 43. Helio would wait 2 more laps before he pulled in. The original plan was to put Helio on blacks, but at the last minute Penske decided to put him on his third and final set of reds, leaving him on the blacks for the final part of the race.
With fresh tires and the bit between his teeth, Power carved out the 3 second interval between he and Castroneves in two laps, snatching the lead as Helio came out of the pits. Between a slightly faster pit stop and Helio’s lack of pace on his worn out reds, Power was able to undercut his Penske teammate.
Last year’s Indy GP winner, Simon Pagenaud, was a non-factor all day. While Indy’s road course has been kind to Pagenaud in the past, today would not be his day. He had been quick all weekend, but always seemed to be the slowest of the Penske cars which while quicker than most of the field, meant he was never in contention for the win. He spent most of the day around 6th place.