Will Power’s race engineer David Faustino has been on a wild and winding journey with the Australian since they first began working together in Champ Car. Their 2007 collaboration at Walker Racing produced multiple wins and two years later, when Power was drafted into Team Penske, it continued with a staggering string of poles and wins.
A Verizon IndyCar Series championship would follow in 2014, but it was their win on Sunday at the Indy 500 that spoke to the ultimate potential of the American-Australian combo. For Faustino, who has won the last two Pocono superspeedway events with Power, making his first trip to Victory Lane at the Indy 500 with his longtime friend and wheel man was the perfect result.
“For us, it’s always been tough to get the big ones,” Faustino told RACER. “We get poles, we get wins, but he deserves more, so to get the big one…we’ve knocked on the door and it finally came together. I think we channeled our inner Pocono there. We just treated it the same way.”
Power’s Team Penske crew aced their pit stops and their driver put in some phenomenal laps before and after those calls to pit lane to pull out an advantage over polesitter Ed Carpenter. Even when a few drivers held the top positions in the waning laps due to being on alternate pit strategies, Faustino was confident the No. 12 Chevy would come out ahead.
“The guys did amazing pit stops and Will did amazing in and out laps,” he added. “We knew it was going to be a track position race, and we just went at it like Pocono, which is the same way. We weren’t sure if the guys up front could make it on fuel, but we were going to try and pass them anyways.”
Faustino also credited the smart performance by his driver who took few risks while staying in the hunt.
“We know from years past you have to keep your nose clean; we made that mistake last year,” he said. “We said we were going to just fight for the top three to five positions, and in one respect we were going to take it easy, and in another we were going to fight to be in the top five to give ourselves a chance. And he’s been cool as a cucumber all month. Even when Ed [Carpenter] blew our doors off in qualifying, he didn’t let it bother him. He’s been in the right mindset.”
After more than a decade together as driver and race engineer, Faustino’s affection for his mercurial pilot was plain to see.
“Sure, we get a little bit of old couple’s syndrome; we get under each other’s skin sometimes, but the coolest thing is we’re always honest with each other, don’t leave anything unsaid,” he offered. “And we just want to win. I love him for it. He’s just a racer.”