Power heads into the 2023 season as the defending champion, but is he also the most unappreciated driver in this era too?

Will Power won the 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series championship. He’s not been in a race car since. That has him excited to get behind the wheel of his Team Penske Chevrolet on Thursday. It’s the first time he’ll be back with the team since he got the monkey off his back in 2022. He finally delivered his second NTT INDYCAR Series championship in a wildly quiet year. It’s fitting too because while he enters the 2023 campaign as the defending series champion, no one is talking about him I feel.

The topics are Alexander Rossi moving to Arrow McLaren, or Alex Palou’s situation, or can Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward full emerge themselves as true championship front runners. Nothing about Power.

What about Helio Castoneves landing a record-breaking 5th Indianapolis 500 win or Scott Dixon tying AJ Foyt for most series titles (7)?

Heck, Power isn’t even discussed much when talking about his current team at Team Penske. It’s can Josef Newgarden put a full season together after three straight runner-up’s in the final standings? Or it’s about this being Scott McLaughlin’s championship to lose.

What about can Power repeat?

That’s honestly not on his mind at the moment.

“I haven’t even thought about the championship. I haven’t even — I almost had to be reminded that I won the championship,” said Power on Wednesday morning from the INDYCAR content day. “Kind of just, I did it, and I know it’s just that I’m older now and moving on quickly and thinking about what’s next.

“Yeah, haven’t been on a high off-season or anything like that, I just kind of stayed even.

“Every season flows differently, but just in general in my life, I just don’t put too much emotion into situations,” he said. “There’s nothing to be gained from it.

“There’s just a lot of things that clicked last year within my team, the crew. Obviously Dave Faustino and the new crew chief are all pretty good group, pretty good, positive group, enjoying the job.”

Will Power looks on in Monterey last season. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

Power says that he feels like as his career has gone along, the pressure is off. He’s in a great spot and can temper his aggression which in turn, he’s found has led to more success.

“The confidence, I just think the older you get, the more comfortable you are with the situation,” said Power. “You just naturally gain confidence. You know your strengths. You know your weaknesses. You know how to extract the most out of yourself. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing.

“I would say I don’t have much pressure at this time in my career, so it’s all about the craft and getting the most out of it.

“Yeah, it’s a good space to be in.”

It paid off just last season. Power didn’t have a flashy year in 2022 but he did exactly what he had to do to win the Astor Cup. One win but nine podiums and having been nearly flawless in the most competitive era of INDYCAR was nothing short of amazing.

It was a different Power than we’re accustomed to seeing. This new and improved Power has adapted and a reason as to why I feel like he’ll be right back in the mix again in 2023 and could be the first driver since Dario Franchitti a decade ago to win back-to-back championships.

What a feat that could be.

However, I feel like Power’s whole career has been overshadowed by other stories. Dixon, and rightfully so too, is considered this generation’s GOAT. The Kiwi has 53 wins to go along with those six titles. Only AJ Foyt’s 67 wins is ahead. Out of the last 20 seasons, Dixon has had at the very least two victories in 17 of them including 15 of the last 17 years.

He’s also scored 49 runner-up finishes over the course of his career. Only Mario Andretti (56) has more. Dixon has had nine runner-up finishes the last four years combined. So, he has a great shot of getting passed Andretti very soon.

Combine those, Dixon has 103 top two finishes in INDYCAR history. Andretti has 108 but it took him 407 starts to do so. Dixon has made 368 career starts. Foyt, has 97 career top two finishes but has done so in 369 starts.

As you can see, Dixon has a better percentage of all starts landing him a top two finish. Unser, has a 27-percent mark with Foyt holding a 26-percent rate. The next best is Bobby Unser (25%) with 65 top two finishes. The next most top two finishes overall? Michael Andretti with 76.

Dixon, is 26 clear of that and still has more years left in him.

Dixon also has 131 podiums, second most. Andretti has 144. Dixon has had 34 podiums in the last four years, so that’s attainable too. In terms of top fives, Dixon has 192. Andretti has 194.

Top 2 now in literally every major statistical category. Championships (2nd), wins (2nd), second place finishes (2nd), podiums (2nd) and top five’s (2nd).

You can’t discredit Dixon as a generational talent.

He can tie Foyt for championships and move past Andretti for top 5’s in 2023.

Castroneves has 31 wins now which is tied for 10th most. His 50 poles are fourth most, three shy of Foyt. His 41 runner-up’s rank third best. His 94 podiums are four shy of Unser for fifth most.  His 142 top fives are fourth most with seven shy of Foyt for third. He just needs that one Indy win for even more lore.

By the end of this season, Castroneves could be alone in with five Indy 500 wins and Dixon could tie Foyt for most championships.

Power, just recently beat Andretti to become the all-time leader in career poles. His other stats could certainly rise too.

He has 41 wins, which is fifth most ever. Power, has had at least one win for 16 straight years now. Can he get at least two wins this season and move past Michael Andretti for fourth? Since 2010, he’s won at least two races in every year minus three. He won two races both in 2019 and 2020 but had won three times in 2017 and 2018 too. I think he can threaten Andretti’s fourth place ranking in career wins this year.

That Dixon stat about top 2’s? Well Power has 66 of them. However, if you factor in Power, he’s done all his stats in 100 fewer starts. His top 2 percentage is 25%. So it’s not like Power is truly all that far off as Dixon as he came to the game far later than his counterpart did.

Which is why I think we’re doing a disservice to him as well as Dixon and Castroneves too if you want to group this as a whole because this trio is for some reason very under valued for how great they really are.

For wins, they rank 2-5-10 right now. For runner-ups, it’s 2-3-12. For podiums, it’s 2-6-7. For top fives, it’s 2-4-9.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s