Determination, a negativity filter and a few aggressive restarts combined to help take Will Power into Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Power survived a race-long threat from Ed Carpenter and a late-race battle with a trio of off-sequence cars to secure Team Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win. At the final restarted, he had the fuel-marginal Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey ahead of him, with Scott Dixon and Carpenter just behind. Carpenter and Power were on identical fuel loads, and Power said that the race polesitter was his main concern.
“That last restart, I was very determined,” he said. “I knew that I had to get a run on these [off-sequence] guys, at least get one of them in the first turn – which I didn’t. I got Oriol a lap later or something. I didn’t want Carpenter to have a shot at me. He was very quick. If he had gotten by, I think it would have been game over, potentially.”
Once he got past Servia he had just three laps left to deal with Wilson and Harvey, but that problem took care of itself when both drivers swung into pitlane for a late splash of fuel, giving Power a clear run to the flag.
“It was like the gates opened,” Power said. “It was amazing.”
But beyond how the day played out on the track, Power believes that the seeds for the win were planted with a change in his outlook, partly with regard to how he processed the disappointment of narrowly losing the 2015 race to teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, and partly through a desire to be more positive in general.
“There’s so much negative stuff out there you can see on social media,” he said. “You’ve just got to minimize the amount of negative people you hang around, negative stuff you read, and be in general more positive.
“It ran through my head the last year more than ever, because I’ve won so many races and poles, led more laps than anyone… I just hadn’t done it here,” he said. “I’ve been thinking, ‘Am I going to finish my career without a 500 win?’
“This month was one of the best months I’ve had: very relaxed, in tune with my engineer, just working really well. It just came together. You’ve got to have a lot of determination.
“I watched the Super Bowl. It was the Patriots…what was the other team? [ED: The Eagles]. They had a lot more ‘want’. They wanted it more than the other team. That’s why they won. I think you have to have that. You have to have that in you. That’s just the human spirit. You got to have that determination. That’s what I had. You work hard at something, it comes to you. It eventually comes to you.
“This was the last box to tick to be considered as a very successful driver. I’m not done. I’m not done. I still have plenty of time left to win more 500s and championships and races.”