Power the new oval specialist

INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power is not happy. He’s frustrated to how his season has gone and now with the lack of speed in qualifying for Sunday’s Indy 500 (1 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network), he’s fuming mad. He starts 22nd, his second worst starting spot here, with his worst being 23rd in his rookie season.

Power has come a long way since that rookie season in Indy Car.

When Power first stepped foot in the NTT IndyCar Series, he was a road racing specialist. In fact, it took him some time to get used to ovals on the circuit. It actually took him over three years in the unified series to get his first oval win in 2011. Furthermore, 19 of his first 20 wins in the series came on road or street courses.

Even 21 of his first 23 wins were on those circuits. Until the 2014 Indy 500, Power only had two wins on an oval – Texas in 2011 and Fontana in 2013. In August of that year though, Power finally found something. He dominated the race at Milwaukee which sparked a domination on ovals. While he didn’t win on another oval for two years, you could visually see everything starting to click.

The main drawback against Power and why he couldn’t ever win multiple championships was because of his lack of strength on ovals. But, since 2016, those are the types of tracks that he says suit him now.

He’s gone as far to say that he’d love to try a NASCAR some time and get this, unlike other open wheel stars who’s showed interest and wanted to try on a road course, Power wants a shot on a NASCAR oval.

Who would have thought that over five years ago?

Power, says his comfort now is on ovals, not road/street courses.

“Yeah it’s just experience simply,” Power said on Thursday. “Just experience and understanding on what you need from the car and how to run in traffic. When to take from the car. Not to overstep it. Just all those things into one.

“Oval racing is hard because it’s not the sort of racing where you can make a mistake and run in the grass. I actually enjoy superspeedway’s the most.”

Five of his last seven wins have come on ovals, four of which on superspeedways. Since 2016, Power has five superspeedway victories – no one else has more. Among those five is his 2018 Indy 500 triumph.

Now, Power comes back to Indy hoping for a second win in three years. Plus, he doesn’t want anyone else to win.

“I know what it feels like and it’s a fantastic feeling,” said Power. “It’s a fantastic feeling there when you do the media tour, when you get your face sculpted, you get the ticket unveil, the face unveil, the baby borg ceremony, it’s all fantastic and really enjoyable so you want to do it again.”

Power, says that in some respects he feels less pressure as a former winner because the doubt of going a whole career of never winning this race is behind you. But, the drawback is, once you’ve won, you want it again worse than ever before.

“I want another win here stronger than ever,” said Power. You really, really want to win here. You want to get out there and experience it again.”

He has a good shot too. Penske has won this race two years in-a-row now and won two of the three oval races run in 2020 too. The car looks good in traffic, so he can certainly come through the field on Sunday too.

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