INDIANAPOLIS — Will Power just likes to make things harder than he needs to be. The pole master who’s one away from tying Mario Andretti for most all-time in the NTT INDYCAR Series history, has qualified outside the top 10 in 6 of his last 10 tries on the season too. The only times he didn’t qualify Row 6 on back, he started on the pole.
In each of those instances, he’s usually came through the field. He started 19th in Barber and finished 4th. He went from 16th to the win in Belle Isle. What about his 21st to 3rd run in Mid-Ohio? He spun on the opening lap and dropped to last on July 3. He’d come back to score a podium on pure pace.
Power qualified 4th. However, he and Pato O’Ward had an opening lap incident to where O’Ward was spun by Power and after the 2 tangled, Power dropped to 16th.
“At that point you’re starting to think of what can we do, if there’s an alternate strategy, then the yellow comes and you’re like absolutely, all right, I think the guys understand, and we talked about it before the race, like we’ll pit, and try and make it on two more stops from there,” he said of his mindset at that early race moment. “Yeah, big fuel number, and that was a great call.
“Yeah, never got upset or — just yep, that’s what it is. That’s how it rolls in this series. Just kept going.”
It was looking like a potential championship dashing moment. Instead, it turned into a championship type winning day.
Marcus Ericsson was starting last (25th) in Saturday’s race and Power coming from Row 2, had a very real shot of taking over the points lead leaving here. Then came the spin. Power elected to hit pit road on the early race caution to go off strategy. Now he was behind Ericsson. It was looking like not only would he not take over the points lead, he’s drop further back in the process.
Ericsson himself was running on a different strategy. He was 1 of 4 drivers who elected to run the first stint long. It looked like it would possibly net him a top 5 in the process. Then came that Lap 36 caution for Simon Pagenaud stalling in Turn 10. Power had just pit on Lap 31 and this caution forced everyone to pit in fear of that yellow falling and flipping the field.
It kept Power so long as he could save enough fuel, on the same strategy as the leaders now and would be back in the hunt for a top 5.
Then came Colton Herta’s misfortune. Then came Power with a fast car to turn a top 5 into a podium and taking and 9 point lead to Nashville next week.
“Considering the start of the race, yep, great recovery, man,” said Power. “Great recovery. It’s amazing some of the runs we’ve had this year. But yep, just kept my head and did what I could in the situation. I had to get a big fuel number and go as fast as I can.
“Very good day. Good day for the team all around.”
He says that if he didn’t have to fuel save so much, he maybe could have won.
“I think it was our pace on the fuel mileage we had to get,” he says. “Definitely we were able to make some hay just getting big numbers that we had to get. We had a great car. Car was really fast.
“Yeah, pretty much all the way to the end we were on a number that was definitely holding us back. We had definitely a lot of pace in hand.
“When we reset, it was, okay, we don’t have to get as big a fuel number now, and we’re P3, so if I can finish P3, that’s a great day.”
Power notes that he’s not playing this championship as the long game in comparison to golf. He’s not pulling away as he’s just sitting there biding his time.
“It’s not necessarily the long game, it’s just that sort of attitude switch where you know these races are long, the season is long, and you’ve got to make the most of every situation, even if you’re fighting for like 12th,” he says. “If that’s your day to finish 12th, well, finish 12th, not 24th.
“Yeah, it’s certainly working very well.”
He now has 7 podiums in 13 races run this year including 10 top 5’s.
“Yeah, I mean, to this point we’ve had a fantastic year, obviously leading the points right now. Just got to keep doing what I’m doing. I know the game so well, been in it so long. We have great potential to win the championship, but there’s four other guys that also do. It’s going to be hard fought to the end.
“I’m enjoying it. I really am. I’m loving the racing. It’s a privilege to feel nervous before a race because there’s going to be a time that you don’t get to do that for decades. Some people never get to do that.”