Will Power has been here before. The 41-year old Team Penske driver has led the NTT INDYCAR Series points standings with 3 races remaining in a season 3 prior times before in his career. This time around, it’s No. 4.
Power finished 3rd in the Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 3 weeks ago. He backed that up with finishing 11th the last time out a couple of weeks ago on the streets of Nashville. With Marcus Ericsson coming home 11th and 14th respectively himself over that 2 race span, it allowed Power to take over the points lead at Indy and keep it through Nashville.
Now though, can he hold onto it over the final 3 race stretch?
The last time he led the points this late in the season was in 2014. He took home his first and only title that year. The previous 2 times were in 2010 and 2012. He finished 8th (Kentucky), 3rd (Motegi) and 25th (Homestead) in 2010 but that wasn’t enough with Dario Franchitti finishing 5th, 2nd and 8th in the same three races to take the title away.
In 2012, Power was 2nd (Sonoma), 6th (Baltimore) and 24th (Sonoma) to close out that season. Ryan Hunter-Reay was 18th, 1st and 4th in the same races to score his 1st and only championship.
Power led Franchitti by 23 points entering the 3rd to last race in 2010 but Hunter-Reay was only 5 points back in 2012 which is why he could avoid that bad result in Baltimore to still win the title.
Can Power avoid the dreaded final race slump this time around?
He’s scored 3 podiums in his last 5 season finales. Also, the driver who’s led the standings entering the third to last race of the season has gone on to win the Astor Cup championship trophy 8 times since 2008 including 5 of the last 6 years.
The lone exception being last year when Pato O’Ward led Alex Palou by 10 points at this time entering the third to last race. Power leads Scott Dixon by 6 points right now.
Dixon was 49 points out of the lead while also being 2nd at this part of the season in points in 2013 but also took home the title too.
Still, this margin of 6 points between Power and Dixon right now is the 4th closest since 2008. The average in that span was 30.1 points.
Also, the 59 points separating the top 7 right now is the closest in the last two decades.
In 2020, Dixon led Josef Newgarden by 72 points at this point of the season. A year prior, Newgarden led Alexander Rossi by 35. A year prior to that, it was Dixon over Rossi by 29.
This is the moment to where Power can extend his lead.
He finished on the podium in both races at Iowa. He finished 3rd in each of his last 2 starts at World Wide Technology Raceway. Dixon meanwhile may have 5 top 5 finishes in his last 6 starts on the season, but on short ovals, he was 5th and 4th respectively at Iowa and notes that Gateway may be with them playing a little bit short in the speed department compared to the Chevy’s.
Team Penske has won 8 of the last 12 short oval races since 2018 with the only other teams winning being AMSP (twice), RLL (once) and Ganassi (once).
Penske also put 3 cars in the top 4 here last year including winning 4 of the 6 races since the series returned back in 2017.