Earlier this year, some of the “experts” on the internet forums were speculating that this would be Will Power’s swan song with Roger Penske.
Nine races into the season and Power was winless while teammates Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud each had a victory under their belt. The fastest man in the NTT IndyCar Series the past decade reached a boiling point at World Wide Technology Raceway in August.
After winning the pole and leading 61 laps, the yellow light came on and caught him out on his next-to-last pit stop. Then he picked up a flat tire. Final result? 17th place – two laps down.
Since that low point, he’s looked like the old Will Power: He ran third in the second show at WWTR; won the pole and led 66 laps on his way to victory in the opener at Mid-Ohio; and charged from 17th to seventh in the second show in Ohio. He utterly dominated Saturday’s Harvest Grand Prix, leading every lap from the pole after finishing sixth on Friday.
Saturday was the 39-year-old Aussie’s kind of race – no cautions and no funky pit strategy because everyone had to make at least two stops and just run as hard as possible for 75 laps.
“It was good not to get caught by a yellow or something strange like that,” said Power after scoring his fourth win at the IMS road course. “The boys had great stops and we had a great car, and I just pushed hard the whole race.”
There is no doubt he lost Road America on the final pit stop to Scott Dixon; had what looked like another win at IMS in July erased by a mechanical problem on a pit stop; and watched victory at WWTR vanish through no fault of his own.
The driver with 35 victories since 2010 for Team Penske he could easily be sitting on five wins in 2020. As it stands, Willy P. lies fourth in the point standings with one race remaining in this frustrating campaign.
“It’s disappointing not to be part of the championship battle because we know we have the speed to do it,” said Power. “It’s just that yellows and unfortunate incidents in the pits really put us out of contention.
“One of these seasons I’m going to start strong. And that one day needs to be next year.”
Now within five pole positions of tying Mario Andretti, Power has pulled even with Al Unser for fifth on the all-time win list with 39.
“When you think about the names I am around, it’s just amazing – legends of the sport and I could never imagine having my name among such historic drivers. They were my heroes, so it’s really cool to have my name up there.”