“It’s great to tick the Mid-Ohio box,” Power said. “I had finished on the podium five times, finally converted one. Completely over the moon.”
As Power told his crew over the radio after crossing the finish line, “It took a while boys, but we did it.”
Power captured his 60th career IndyCar pole, seven shy of Mario Andretti’s all-time record, and took full advantage of track position.
“This is the first race in about 10 years where I just decided to go hard,” Power said. “No worry about fuel. We pushed hard the entire way, went flat out. We won the race so it was a great strategy.” American Josef Newgarden was second followed in order by compatriots Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
“It was a pretty straightforward day. Where we started is where we finished,” Newgarden said. “Congrats to Will. That was a clinic he put on.”
The runner-up finish pulled Newgarden within 436-360 of season points leader Scott Dixon of New Zealand, who finished 10th after starting 17th on a track where he had won six times, including last year.
Four of 14 races remain in the 2020 campaign, including Sunday’s second at Mid-Ohio.
Power grabbed the lead at the start ahead of Newgarden, who began directly behind him, and they cycled back into the 1-2 spots after the first series of pit stops.
Power made his final pit stop on lap 47 and departed in only 6.3 seconds, returning to the track with a seven-second edge on Newgarden and pulling away over the final laps in an overwhelming performance, leading all but nine laps.
The Mid-Ohio races were postponed from August due to the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted the schedule and delayed the season’s start until June. State officials last week approved a reduced capacity of 6,000 spectators for each race.
“We’re happy to be out here and happy to have fans,” Power said. “It’s great. We’ve had a pretty trying year. The circumstances are very tough with COVID and all the social distancing we had to do.”
“It’s just flowing. It’s just awesome – you take such good rhythm,” Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo said. “The way the kerbs are you kind of use all the exits, and it actually makes it quite nice, adds a bit of character to it.”
Qualifying starts at 11pm (AEST) following the completion of Practice Three at 9pm.
Follow in our live blog at the bottom of the page!
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will be attempting to claim his seventh pole position of the season at a track he described as unrelenting.
“I have to say, this track is pretty intense — so fast and challenging,” reigning champion Hamilton said. “I’m telling you, on the long run it is one of the most-physically demanding circuits that we’ve been at for a while.
“It’s definitely a real challenge, it’s just I’m not that great at it — not just yet.”
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was the fastest during Friday practice, two-tenths ahead of Hamilton and then Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Ricciardo was fifth-fastest in his Renault, just over one second slower than Bottas.
It is the fifth Friday at successive events that the Finn has been fastest in at least one session. But he went better this time by topping both sessions, boosting his bid to close the 47-point lead that Hamilton has built up in the drivers’ title race.
“It’s been a lot of fun today and I’ve enjoyed every single lap,” said Bottas. “The whole opening section, with the high-speed chicanes, and the second sector, is just amazing and the car felt pretty good out there.
“This track is definitely one of the most physically demanding, but we’ll only see the effects in the race, but even today I could feel it — and it’s going to be tough for everyone on Sunday.”
The afternoon session was stopped twice for red flags after Lando Norris crashed his McLaren after spinning and, later, Sergio Perez of Racing Point collided with Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.
Alex Albon was fourth in the second Red Bull ahead of the two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, Perez and last Sunday’s Monza winner Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri.
Raikkonen was ninth for Alfa Romeo and Charles Leclerc tenth in his Ferrari, as the Italian team showed a solid improvement after two pointless weekends before this weekend’s celebration of their 1000th Grand Prix.
His Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel, who is leaving the team at the end of the season, ended the session stranded out on the track after the engine of his gleaming burgundy-red car cut out.
Former Ferrari boss Jean Todt has revealed he visited Michael Schumacher last week and says the seven-time F1 champion is fighting to overcome the devastating injuries he suffered in a skiing accident in 2013.
Todt, who oversaw five of Schumacher’s drivers championships at Ferrari, is among just a handful of people who have access to the 51-year-old at his Lake Geneva home.
Schumacher’s condition has been a closely-guarded secret as his family remains determined to respect his privacy.
But Todt, 74, offered positive news after his visit. “I saw Michael last week. He is fighting,” Todt told the PA news agency.
“My God, we know he had a terrible and unfortunate skiing accident which has caused him a lot of problems. But he has an amazing wife next to him, he has his kids, his nurses, and we can only wish him the best and to wish the family the best, too.”
“All I can do is to be close to them until I am able to do something, and then I will do it,” he added.
“That is what he and his family are working towards,” Todt said at the time.
A leading neurosurgeon claimed earlier this year the German was “very altered” after suffering a severe brain injury.
He reportedly underwent stem cell therapy in Paris in 2019 and continues to be privately treated at his home.
Schumacher is closing in on being able to watch his son, Mick, follow in his footsteps in Formula One.
Mick Schumacher will drive a Ferrari at the Tuscany Grand Prix this weekend as the glamour outfit celebrates its 1000th race.
Mick will drive the F2004, the car which his father drove to his seventh world title, in a “fitting tribute to the Scuderia’s most successful car and its incomparable driver”.
Mick is currently racing a step below the top level in F2, but is being eyed by several teams for 2021 and beyond.
He won’t arrive in time to prevent Lewis Hamilton beating all his father’s records though.
Hamilton will move within one race win of Schumacher’s overall record of 91 with a win in Tuscany and is on track to match his tally of seven world championships in 2020.
“Lewis will beat all of Michael’s records simply because he is a very talented driver,” Todt said. “He is motivated and driving for the best team. He has the best car, the best engine so all the ingredients are there.
“We thought the records would be very difficult to beat, but a long stability of the regulations has helped them.”