Depending on whom you talk to, Will Power either is a free agent at seasons end, or not. With Scott McLaughlin coming over for the season finale at St. Pete on Oct. 25, most are wondering if it’s a one way ticket for the Australian to the United States.
McLaughlin is either replacing Power or Penske is expanding to a fourth full time team. But, Power isn’t going away without a fight. He’s showing that maybe he should be back for 2021 and all the talk that he wouldn’t be was all for not.
Power, led all 75 laps in perfect fashion in the last race of the season in the Harvest Grand Prix. It was his 39th career win, tying him fifth on the all time wins list. Earlier in that day, he won his 61st career pole moving him six shy of tying Mario Andretti for most ever.
You don’t part ways with a driver like that. Roger Penske is a smart businessman and has to see that.
Power, honesty should have more than two wins in 2020 anyways. An ill advised caution and stalling on pit road in the first race on the IMS road course on July 4 is a reason to why he doesn’t have three wins. What about the wrong gearing call in Road America 1? What about the tire literally falling off his car in Iowa 1 after a stop? There was another wrong caution in St. Louis 1. A slow stop in Indy 2. He could have won all those races or at the very least landed on the podium.
The other races?
Two runner-ups, a third and a seventh in the other five.
Power didn’t forget to drive. He’s still the fastest driver in the field. The luck is what’s been plaguing him.
It’s been like this for years. Now, the luck is turning back his way. He’s won at least one race every year since 2007. He’s all the way back up to fourth in points and 13 shy of moving into third.
“It was kind of disappointing not to be a part of the championship because we know we have the speed to do it,” Power said. “It’s just yellows and some unfortunate incidents in the pits for us that really have put us out of contention.
“One of these seasons, I’m going to start strong. It’s been a long time, but one day I will start strong. And that one day needs to be next year.
“We’ve had such great potential with speed, just all around. We have a fantastic team, great group of guys. Just kind of little mistakes here and there cost us dearly. Days we were going to win, well, last race I stalled in the pit, then recovered to seventh.
“Certainly a few events like that where we would have been well in the championship hunt had things gone the other way.”
Power, says that his career is an incomplete still with one title to his credit.
“It’s disappointing for me to look back and only have one title,” he said Saturday. “With the amount of wins, laps led, poles. Yeah, if you go through the last decade, I’ve had more wins, but only one championship.”
Now, he looks to win his third race in the final five races of the season.
“Indianapolis was incredible,” said Power ahead of this weekend. “Winning the pole and the race just brought so much good energy to the Verizon Chevy team. It’s a shame we had so much bad luck and made some mistakes earlier this season, but we’ve been getting stronger since Mid-Ohio, and I think the team has really come together. We’ve been out of contention for the championship for a few races now, so we are fully focused on just getting more race wins. St. Pete is such a technical street course, so it can be really fun to race. Actually, it will end up being the only street race we raced on in 2020. We’ve had some races this year with fans, and I’m glad we’ll have a good number of fans back at St. Pete.”
Power has now won eight poles in St. Pete since 2010. Furthermore, Power has qualified on the front row in five straight years and nine of the last 10. His worst qualifying effort since then was a fourth in 2014, a race he coincidentally won.
In terms of a race win, the last five winners in the series have come from the front row including seven of the last eight from a top three starting spot.
Prior to 2016, Team Penske was the most dominant organization at St. Pete though. From 2006 through 2015, Penske had won eight races in an 11 year span. They’ve won four of the last six overall with a race record nine trips to victory lane.