Neither winner Will Power nor runner-up Simon Pagenaud felt the lap 53 pass for the win was a risky one, following their late-race battle in the second Detroit race.
In fact, Power said he had deliberately taken the less risky route past his teammate, as they dueled for fifth while running behind four cars on brave alternate strategies.
The 2014 IndyCar Series champion, who scored his first win for over a year, said: “The crew guys did a great job in the pits to get me out in front of the #28 [Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Andretti Autosport-Honda] and then obviously on the restart I felt we really have to capitalize or we’re not going to win.
“It wasn’t a big risk because it was on the outside. Had I tried to go on the inside, it would have been a much bigger risk. I wasn’t willing to take that with Simon because he’s the championship leader.
“So, if I was going to do it, I had to do it on the outside and cleanly. There was a space and I went for it.”
Said Pagenaud: “It was good fight. Will was aggressive but he made a great pass and I couldn’t really do anything. I was really struggling on cold tires.
“My car was really strong on long runs as you could see, no degradation, but he got me. That’s all it is. I tried but… I tell you, he had to brake really late to make that one stick! He had a lot of pace and we did too, but it was a great championship day.”
Pagenaud, who now holds an 80-point lead in the championship, stated: “Helio [Castroneves] got really unlucky [strategy-wise] and Scott Dixon was behind us, so I thought we should be trying… but not too hard!”
Asked if he had thought about trying to repass in the closing laps as Power paid out the line and allowed the gap to shrink from 1.7sec to under a second, Pagenaud said: “I tried. You never give up until it’s finished. I had some Push to Pass boost left in the car and I think that’s why I got close and the car felt really good.
“I got close to see if I could push him to make a mistake on the last lap – you never know, sometimes it works. But I’m really happy with second today.”