MADISON, Ill — It’s Will Power time still. A week after the Team Penske driver earned his first win of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season and winning a race for the 15th straight season, he scored his first pole of the year too which was the 13th straight year that he’s done that.
In the race, Power had nothing for his teammate Josef Newgarden for the win in Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500. He really had nothing for Pato O’Ward or either Andretti Autosport drivers up front either. But, due to both Andretti drivers taking themselves out in a span of 15 laps towards the end, there Power sat in third on the final restart.
He’d hold off his Penske teammate of Scott McLaughlin for his 85th career series podium including three of which coming in the last five races.
“Yeah, actually I was really happy to finish third,” Power said. “Definitely didn’t have the car to challenge for the win. Yeah, struggled a little bit to get the car in a window.
“Just did a really clean race, clean pit stops, no mistakes. Yeah, stoked to be third.”
Power, lost the lead early to Colton Herta, then came out of his first pit stop in second. After we got back going again for green flag action, Herta got back by Power which put Power back to third since Josef Newgarden got by them both. Following his next stop, Power fell back to seventh in which he said was due to him losing ground by trying to save fuel.
“That was when everyone was saving fuel,” he said. “You literally have to lift at the start/finish line. If you wanted to burn more fuel to pass someone, which a couple guys did to me, you could. I lost track position doing that. I could have burnt more fuel. But I was playing the long game. I wanted to get that number and made sure we went a couple laps longer.
“Ultimately I should have kept the track position. Nothing much would have changed to be honest. The guys that I was fighting, most of them just fell out, so it didn’t matter. I don’t think I was going to beat Newgarden or Pato.”
With this end of season surge again, the question now is, how many more podiums come? He’s always at his best at seasons end. He had three podiums over the final five races in 2017, four podiums in the final five of 2018, three top twos in the final four of 2019 and two wins in the final five of last year.
As far as what changed over there at Penske since they started 0-for-9?
“Well, nothing really,” he said. “I mean, like I said at Indy, it wasn’t due to lack of trying or hard work. Obviously there’s a bit of bad luck in there. Yeah, nothing’s changed. I think we’re just kind of seeing our true potential right now, yeah.
“When you look at Newgarden’s pace all year, it really is not a lack of performance. It’s just a lack of just circumstance. Yeah, I mean, I expect us to be competitive for the next three races.”