Through the first seven races of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season, there had been no winner over the age of 31-years old. Will Power rewrote that statistic this weekend.
The No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet crew delivered a victory on the streets of Belle Isle, first of the season for them and fourth overall for the organization as a whole. Chevrolet earned their 100th victory since re-entering the Series in 2012 and the victory marked Power’s 27th overall with the manufacturer.
At 41-years old, the Australian has never had a start to a campaign like this season. Until the Indianapolis 500 a week ago, all of Power’s finishes were top fours. A week after the month of May was completed, Power snagged his third podium finish, which ties for most of all drivers this season.
Power led the championship standings after the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but was knocked down to fourth in the standings after a 15th place finish in the Indy 500. He entered this weekend 24 points behind Marcus Ericsson, but with his valiant effort, Power leaves Detroit three points ahead and is back in control of the points.
By no means is this a settled fight for the championship title, but this could be the start of a run for a second Astor Cup for Power. Partnered with the experience, it’s about the mental game going forward.
“Yes, I am definitely, as far as in the race goes,” Power said. “I certainly perfected that sort of mental place you need to be in, decision making and such. But that was there last year. It’s just that I had a lot of unfortunate things happen last year that really put me out of contention insome big races, in some races where I was top three for sure.
“It wasn’t obvious. It looks like a big change, but it’s not a big change. I’ve had years of this. I’m so experienced at it, so I know it so well. I understand the game so well. I’m just executing as you should at my experience level. You’re getting everything right, like all the details.”
The competitiveness of IndyCar at the moment cannot be overstated enough. Take this weekend alone, there were 11 cars under a one second blanket in times from second practice.
Of Power’s 41 career victories, 17 of them have been won from starting on pole. The IndyCar field of drivers have only gotten tougher in the last decade as the 2014 series champion has not won a race from rolling off outside the top 10 since that title year.
“When I used to qualify on pole very often and start the very front very often, you’re not racing in the pack very often,” he said. “Now, rarely am I right at the front for qualifying. Sometimes. No one is consistently at the front anymore. It’s just too tough.
“So you’re racing around other cars, you get very good at that, too. You get very good at restarts, good at judging where you should be. That’s something I missed out early on in my career because I was so fast, I was in the front, I was always leading.”
Power noted on the evolution of the series from a Saturday to Sunday transition including how a team qualifies and then ultimately performs in the race has changed. He can understand the difference, having three or more pole wins each year in the early 2010s, a drastic contrast to only having two poles over the last season and seven starts.
“Obviously fast,” he continued. “IndyCar rules, as they are, rewards often qualifying badly. That’s no joke, it does. You can really go off the guys in front of you. That’s not always the case, but it’s the beauty of IndyCar, you can come from 16th and win, you can come from 19th at Barber and finish fourth.”
A look back to just a year ago, the doubleheader in Detroit left Power frustrated with missing out on a victory. Leading with a late caution that turned into a red flag, the cars were brought down pit-road, the sun baked his ECU and left the whole field passing him when the race was once again, yellow flagged.
Power has been known to be a character within the paddock and can wear his heart on his sleeve from time to time. Possibly at the peak of his career, the hunger is still there, but there is no need to worry.
Comfortability could be the reason for the strength this early in the season.
“I’m not disappointed with bad results anymore,” said Power. “It is what it is. That’s one thing that has changed with me. I really don’t care. I don’t have to put anything more up on the board. I could stop right now. I don’t have to.
“So I haven’t got that pressure. I just don’t care anymore. I’m just enjoying it. I massively care about my craft. I want to do it absolutely properly. But I don’t care for a bad result because it is a part of the game. That’s one thing that has changed me because I’ve learnt that’s not fair. Yes, it is.”
At some point in every driver’s career, regardless of which motorsport they belong, they reflect on their opportunities they’ve had in their career. Especially when they are most satisfied with their achievements.
“I’m extremely lucky to be doing what I’m doing, just extremely lucky,” he added. just fortunate that I’m in this position to race cars and get paid for it. It’s insane. Compared to what you could be doing. It can always be worse, no matter, it just can. Just lucky.”