TMS Media Relations | Apr 16, 2014
Verizon IndyCar Series driver Will Power has been here before.
After the first two races, Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) finds himself yet again atop the championship points leaderboard. The Australian native won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) on March 30 and in spite of one of his worst qualifying efforts he finished second to Mike Conway (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) at Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He currently has a 27-point advantage over Conway as the series heads into an off week.
Unfortunately for Power, his knack for hot starts has yet to produce a championship season.
In 2010, Power won the season opener in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and followed it with another victory at St. Petersburg. His season continued to prosper with seven more podium finishes and three more wins, but he still fell five points short of the championship to four-time champion Dario Franchitti.
The 2011 season was a similar story. A second-place finish in St. Petersburg to start the season was followed by a win at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. Again, Power was outlasted by Franchitti for a second consecutive season.
The disappointment didn’t stop there.
The following year was another heartbreaker for Power after winning three of the first four races. His commanding points lead carried him through 14 races of the 15-event season only to see it stripped away by eventual champion Ryan Hunter-Reay to complete his three-peat of runner-up seasons.
Heading into this season, Power has a different mentality that settled in last season after he found himself well out of championship contention by July.
“I had spent three years being very conservative, feeling the points,” Power said. “It actually taught me you just need to race hard no matter what. At the end of the year, it was fun. You can just race hard, it does not matter. In fact, the results came a lot better when I did that.”
Power finished 2013 with three wins in the last five races. After last weekend’s second-place finish, it seems his new outlook may be carrying over to the current campaign.
“(I will) definitely take second from 14th,” Power said after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “You know, (it is) good for the championship – not that I want to think about that crap anymore. I just want to race. I’m just going to race to win every time.”
Power narrowly escaped a multi-car wreck on Lap 54 and after Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) was forced to pit with two laps remaining, Power found himself chasing Conway for the lead.
“None of us had a push-to-pass (option), so, yeah, I did everything I could when I saw Dixon pull in with only two to go,” Power said. “But like I said, it was a 14th (starting position), and we’re going to be happy with a top five. So second is okay.”
Will the hot start turn into Power’s first career championship season or is it a façade for yet another disappointing finish? The remaining 16 races will tell the story, but next up on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama and should serve as an opportunity for Power to further increase his points lead. In four visits to Barber Motorsports Park, Power has two poles and two wins at the 2.38-mile road course.
“To me, I’ve got to qualify a bit better for sure,” Power said regarding the April 27 event. “Definitely aiming to be on the pole because that track is very difficult to pass. Everyone’s tested there, everyone’s run a lot of miles there so there are a lot of good guys with good cars. It’s definitely going to make it an interesting weekend.”
Power, along with 17 other drivers, also will be visiting Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday for a Firestone tire test session. The test is the first of the year for INDYCAR at the 1.5-mile oval as teams get a feel for this year’s package for the Firestone 600 on Saturday, June 7. In six visits, Power has one win (second race of the 2011 Firestone Twin 275s), two podium finishes and one pole at “The Great American Speedway!”
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