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Lapped traffic, late-race misfortune costs Power chance at Pocono win

Entering Sunday’s ABC Supply 500, Will Power was aiming for his third win in a row at Pocono Raceway. And while Alexander Rossi had the dominant car on the day, Power was keeping him in sight, even closing in as they encountered traffic.

Power also began conserving fuel to extend his stints in hopes of leapfrogging Rossi during an exchange of pit stops - that strategy saw him lead for a short period after a pit cycle on Lap 138.

However, he then got balked by lapped traffic, allowing Rossi to retake the lead on Lap 140.

And ahead of his final stop, Power, who again ran longer than Rossi in hopes of leapfrogging him, was balked again, this time in Turn 3 as he caught Max Chilton in the middle of the corner. Power nearly pushed out into the wall trying to avoid Chilton, which cost him precious time on track.

Things got worse on his out-lap when he experienced a bizarre shifting problem that saw his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet shift only midway through second gear.

The combination of those incidents ultimately prevented Power from challenging Rossi and from taking his third victory in a row at Pocono.

“Just got a couple of bad runs out of (Turn 1), to be honest,” Power explained when asked how Rossi got back around on Lap 140. “(He got) beside me going into Turn 2. Yeah, that was that. Then in the last pit stop, we had a great shot at getting him again. I caught Max Chilton at the worst possible spot in Turn 3, washed right up into the marbles, almost got into the wall.”

Power continued “On the out lap (after the last stop), got a mid shift in second. Lost a second in that whole exchange. That was our only shot to close the gap to him. If we didn’t jump him in that exchange, it was going to be very difficult to get him.”

The second-place effort does make it three podiums in a row at Pocono for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, and Power remains fourth in the championship. However, he is 81 points behind Dixon, and in need of some help if he is to get back into the championship picture.