Success began for Indy 500 winner Will Power in Las Vegas

It was the one and only Vegas Grand Prix, and if the 2007 Championship Auto Racing Teams race contested on downtown Las Vegas streets was easily forgotten, one no longer can say the same about the guy who won it.

The Will Power who charged to the front during the closing laps to win Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 was the same Will Power who raced to victory at the short-lived VGP. Perhaps Las Vegas does not always provide a figurative fast lane to fame and fortune, but on that day it offered a literal one.

When Power held off former Las Vegas resident Paul Tracy to win the first major open wheel race of his career he was 26 years old and almost as unknown as his hometown of Toowoomba, Queensland in Australia. He qualified on pole position and led the most laps in holding off 16 other drivers, including three — Graham Rahal, Sebastien Bourdais and teammate Simon Pagenaud — who also drove in the 102nd running of the Indy 500.

Power and Pagenaud are teammates again, having gone on to become two of IndyCar’s brightest stars since hooking up with vaunted car owner Roger Penske with each having won a series championship.

It would be a reach to say Power owes it all — or even any of it — to Las Vegas. But I’ll bet there are people who were in church on that Easter Sunday who will now swear they were there when Will Power did celebratory burnouts on Grand Central Parkway.

Busch backs Knights

Gentlemen, start your hockey trash-talking.

Coca-Cola 600 winner Kyle Busch, who is from Las Vegas, has made a friendly wager with his NASCAR Cup Series car owner Joe Gibbs, who identifies with Washington, D.C., having coached the Redskins to three Super Bowl championships, about who is going to win the Stanley Cup.

Busch, of course, is driving the Golden Knights bandwagon. (Brother Kurt wound the siren before the start of the third period of the Knights’ 3-2 loss in Game 2 of the series on Wednesday night.) If Vegas beats the Washington Capitals, Gibbs will make a donation to Kyle B.’s Bundle of Joy charity.

But should the Caps’ hoist the Cup at series’ end, Busch will write a check to Youth for Tomorrow, the coach’s favorite charitable organization.

The two sported T-shirts of their favorite hockey clubs while laying down the bet on their Twitter accounts.

Green, white, checkered

— After a rough qualifying weekend which saw ace driver James Hinchcliffe bumped from the Indianapolis 500 starting field, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 2 man Robert Wickens finished ninth and was named Rookie of the Year, salvaging race weekend for the IndyCar team headed by Henderson’s Sam Schmidt.

— After an excellent runner-up finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Coca-Cola 600 weekend, Las Vegan Riley Herbst Friday night returns to ARCA racing at Pocono, Pennsylvania — a NASCAR Cup Series track at which he finished first and second in 2017. “It’s an awesome track, but you find out in a hurry that you have to respect it or you’ll end up on a wrecker,” the 19-year-old said of 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle.”

— At the Bullring: NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, plus Late Model Truck Series, 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets and info, LVMS.com, 800-644-4444.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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