INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway unveiled the ticket in which 300,000+ spectators will be holding on their way into the gates at 16th and Georgetown on May 26. The 2019 ticket features the event logo, “This Is May” event slogan, and rich maroon and navy blue colors. The famous “Yard of Bricks” start-finish line also is represented atop the ticket, which was unveiled by Power and IMS Creative Services team members during a ceremony at the Rhythm! Discovery Center in downtown Indianapolis.
A special varnish coats the compelling photo of Will Power on the ticket, adding emphasis to his status as the defending winner and enhancing the ticket as a coveted keepsake for race fans.
.@12WillPower sees the ticket #Indy500 pic.twitter.com/bYoujIyFfm — Eric Smith (@Eric_RaceReview) January 28, 2019
The reason for the photo that was chosen was due to Power being hoisted into the air in victory lane by his crew members. The joyful and triumphant victory lane allowed photographers to capture one of the first, if not the first, time ever a driver was lifted up in victory lane at Indy.
Power, who was making his 11th start in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, was as emotional as it gets after winning the race. On Monday, he got to relive the memories all over again with the unveiling.
“To win any race in IndyCar is really hard,” Power said on Monday. “I’ll keep doing it. I’ve enjoyed all the things that go along with winning the ‘500. I have zero complaints on doing that stuff. I enjoy being recognized as a ‘500 winner. It’s a part of the job. I would love to go through the process again. To go back-to-back would be amazing. I don’t want to be greedy but I want to win another ‘500.”
Power talks about his #Indy500 win pic.twitter.com/Q3fsmFd53d — Eric Smith (@Eric_RaceReview) January 28, 2019
Power said that winning last May’s Indy 500 is his greatest racing achievement and that he would likely trade his only championship of his career to win another one.
“As far as everything goes in my racing career, the ‘500 tops all of it,” said Power. “I probably would (trade his championship for another Indy 500 triumph). The title was a big deal to me. It’s the best driver of the entire season which means you’re the best driver. A championship to me was a big deal. It really was. The ‘500 grows more and more and more. You then start understanding the history and loving the event more itself.
“The championship needs to be bigger than what it is. It’s tough to win. It’s a hard championship to win now. To think about it, there’s no other racing series in the world where to have to win on a street course, road course, superspeedway and short oval. They’re all different. We go to the bumpiest street courses then we go to a beautiful smooth Formula One style road course. It’s got everything and there’s nothing else in the world like it.”
For Power, the win at Indy was the statement that he’s an all around driver now. We’ve known the last few years that Power is among the best on ovals too, but the world has since taken notice.
“I really feel like I understand superspeedway game better than anywhere else I’m doing right now,” Power said of his driving. “My short ovals game is even better than my road and street course game so I have to work on my road and street course stuff. I have a good feel for it now and a good understanding on where it wants to go. Where to run and where to do. I really, really enjoy oval racing now. I understand it.”
The first 11 wins of Power’s career were on road or street courses. In fact, 21 of his first 23 NTT Data IndyCar Series victories were on those types of circuits. From 2007 through 2014, Power was known as the best road/street course driver but in order to really make himself a champion in this sport, he had to win on ovals.
Well, not only has he now won on ovals, he’s better now on them than anywhere else.
Out of Power’s last seven wins, five of which have come on ovals, including the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Power’s most famous words after winning the ‘500 didn’t come in victory lane but rather on his team radio after he took the checkered flag. His screaming of “show me some respect” and a curse word in there at the end showed how much emotion was coming out of him. But, the respect that he was shown, still gives him goosebumps eight months later.
“One of the coolest things of winning that race was when I was doing my victory lap we stopped on the front straightaway and Graham (Rahal), Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Rossi, three American drivers came out on the front stretch to congratulate me. It means a lot to me. It meant a lot for those guys to think of me with the win. I still have goosebumps thinking of it.”
Now that he’s a season champion as well as an Indy 500 champ, he’s as motivated now than ever. His next goal is simple, he wants multiple season titles and multiple Indy 500’s wins to go along with catching a boyhood hero – Mario Andretti.
“I’m just super motivated,” Power said on what’s next to accomplish. “You want to tick the two boxes, what I’ve done. You then really want to move onto the next goal and I don’t want to be a single champion or single ‘500 winner. I have to win at least two or you’re just like some of the other guys. I want to win more. You’re next motivation or goal sets in and you’re on the course to make that happen. Once you lose that fire in you’re belly it’s time to stop. I’ve got more fire than ever.”
Power also wants to rise up the ranks. Currently, his 35 wins rank him tied with Bobby Unser for seventh most ever. He’s only nine wins away from Scott Dixon. Power also has 54 poles which rank him second on the all-time poles list.
While Power would like to catch Dixon, and he can being that he’s made 100 less starts than his rival, his main goal is to catch Andretti.
“I have those goals,” said Power. “You have to. Scott (Dixon) does, I know he does. He knows the numbers. He knows them better than me. Anyone that says they don’t, they do. It’s a goal. It’s a goal you set. It gives you the motivation. I look at the pole, which is obviously Mario (Andretti). It’s tough but it’s doable. There’s so many good guys now so you don’t get a lot of poles in the season. Same goes for wins. I’d like to get where Mario Andretti is. That was a guy that was a hero of mine growing up and a phenomenal IndyCar driver.”
Andretti, has 52 wins and 67 poles. Power, only needs 18 more wins and just 14 poles to top Andretti. If he’d do so, he’s be tops ever in poles and no worse than third in wins.
It’s all very possible too. Power, has won at least three races in eight of the last nine years. He’s averaging three wins per year over the last seven years. If he hits that average, he will top Andretti no later than five years.
In terms of poles, he’s scored 18 of them just since 2015. He had six poles in 2015 and again in 2017 and four poles last year. If he can keep this up, he will not only have caught but also have passed Andretti, a feat that he still can’t fathom.
“I speak to Mario (Andretti),” said Power on his idol. “He’s an absolute legend. I want to have dinner with him one day. I just love having dinner with guys who were racing in that era where it was super dangerous. Just hearing their stories is pretty cool. I just remember a race in Formula One. It was in the wet. I think it was the race where Niki Lauda pulled out and lost the championship and Mario won it. It’s just in him. Mario Andretti would never do that. The danger part is just locked out of his brain. He’s a true racer. I don’t think it (danger) ever entered Mario’s mind which is amazing. It’s funny with those guys you look up to so much and you get to a level to where they were and you can never compare yourself to them because they’ll always be above you in your mind. You can never ever put yourself equal in your mind because they’re a legend in your mind. They always seem like a larger figure. That never leaves you.”
Remember when Power won the pole for the 2016 season opener at St. Pete only to see him miss the race with concussion like symptoms. Remember when he went to see a specialist only to be diagnosed with an inner ear problem. Well, that was just the start of two seasons where Power wasn’t all there physically.
He noted on Monday that the 2016 and 2017 seasons were tough on him. Power, won four times still in ’16 and finished runner-up in the championship, but he knew something just wasn’t right. That carried over to 2017 where he won three times but finished his worst in the final standings since 2008.
Now though, he’s back to feeling 100-percent and said that he’s better now than ever before.
“I’ve had a really rough couple of years in ’16 and ’17 physically,” Power said. “I had a few issues. I’m back to the best health and fitness I’ve ever had. I almost feel thankful that I have another shot to use the talent that I have because physically I couldn’t even use it in ’16. I could get to the Fast Six but I couldn’t push physically. I’ve got a chance now, I can take it.”