Sunday, March 26, 2023

Power Finishes Third to Take Championship Lead After ‘Pretty Crazy’ Indy GP

Will Power scored his second podium of the season at the GMR Grand Prix.
Will Power scored his second podium result of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season at the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday. Image courtesy of Travis Hinkle / Penske Entertainment

Will Power continued the 2022 theme of consistency after scoring a third-place finish in Saturday’s rainy and rambunctious GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The 41-year-old Aussie started on pole, but lost the lead on the opening lap in Turn 7 and never managed to reclaim the top the spot at any point during race. The conditions around the 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit made the race challenging for each of the 27 competitors, with eight cautions leading to the  85-lap race switching to a timed race that ended 10 laps shy of the originally scheduled distance.

A four-stop strategy that blended Firestone’s rain tires, along with fresh and used alternate (red sidewall) slick compound, combated the mixed elements and proved the best strategy as Power kept the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet out of the surrounding chaos.

In the end, Power collected his second podium result through the opening five races of the season. He has also finished fourth in each of the three previous events.

“At the end there, man, you could not see a thing,” Power said. There was a spray in front of me. I don’t know how it was behind the one car, but just the two car, I couldn’t imagine being back in 10th, man. You don’t know if someone is braking early or you are kind of looking to the fence to get a reference, you kind of lift early. You don’t want to lift too early because no one can see from behind.

“Yeah, pretty crazy day. One to stay on your toes and know when to pick the right tire and definitely not overdo it. Yeah, real happy with third with a day like that. Just survival.”

The outcome also has Power sitting atop the championship standings after Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, along reigning series champion Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing, found trouble. Power now holds a 14-point advantage (170-156) over  Palou in the fight for the Astor Cup, with McLaughlin in third (152).

Overall, it ended being a good points day for the 2014 IndyCar champion.

“Those sort of days you’re thinking points when you see Palou out and you see Newgarden out and a couple of the main contenders that you are going to be fighting,” Power said. “You start thinking a little bit that way, yeah.”

During the post-race press conference, Power, the 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner, was quizzed on if he has always had points in mind when navigating traffic from the cockpit or if it developed over time.

“Yeah, honestly it’s not that good to think about points, but sometimes you have to be smart about it if you’re — you know Palou is going to be the guy and, obviously, Newgarden as well,” Power added. “It’s just one of those days where if you can finish in the top six, you’re going to get a good chunk of points on those guys.

“If I had the car to win and the chance to win without big risk, I would definitely have gone for it. If it had been a constant condition, it would have been a different story, but it was just too easy to get caught out by a patch of water. It’s just a day to be smart and finish.”

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