IT’S billed as the greatest spectacle in racing, and today the Indianapolis 500 was won by a bloke from a small town in Queensland.
Toowoomba-native Will Power crossed the finished line of the 200-lap, 500-mile classic in first place to claim both his maiden Indy 500 victory, and the first victory at the event by an Australian.
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Driving for powerhouse team Penske Racing – owned by the eponymous Roger Penske – Power was a front-runner for most of the race, having started on the outside of the front row.
With four laps remaining, the Australian took the lead of the race, and became instantly aware of what was about to happen.
“Man,” he said across the radio, “I think I’m going to win this!”
The Indy 500 has eluded Power before, who became the IndyCar series champion in 2014. At the time, team owner Roger Penske told media that all the Australian needed to do to be considered one of the category’s greatest drivers was win at The Brickyard – as Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also known.
Power's raw emotions were visible after the victory, broadcasting a shout of, "Show me respect motherf***er!" over his radio upon winning.
“I’ve had so many wins, so many poles. Everyone talks about the 500 and I just couldn’t imagine winning a race in front of a crowd like this, this many people. It’s just amazing,” Power said after the race.
Power now has 34 career IndyCar victories, equalling Al Unser Jr on the all-time wins list.
The 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 was one of the hottest on record, with track temperatures soaring towards 60 degrees Celsius.
Crashes marred much of the running, with Australian James Davison the first of 33 runners to retire after his car slowed and was hit by defending winner Takuma Sato.
The other notable DNFs included three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, and Danica Patrick, who was set to retire from racing at the end of the event.