SALINAS, Calif – Will Power is in a weird situation this weekend in Monterey. See, his two Team Penske teammates are vying for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship. Josef Newgarden leads the points while Simon Pagenaud is in third, 42 points arrears. Power though, sits fifth in the standings but is too far out to make a leap. He’s not mathematically eligible.
So, he has to do whatever he can to ensure one of this teammates is the one hoisting the Astor Cup championship trophy following Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/IndyCar Radio Network).
Will Power tests his No. 12 Chevrolet at Laguna Seca on Thursday – INDYCAR Media Site
Power, knows that the best way that he could help – is to win.
“Absolutely,” said Power on if the main goal for him to help this weekend is to just win the race outright. “That would definitely help. In Josef’s (Newgarden) case, it makes it harder for the other guys to get him.
“Yeah, we’ll see where we qualify, where the teammates are. Obviously the main thing for this weekend is for the team to win the championship. If we qualify on pole, that makes it an easy job for me. That’s definitely the aim.
“It’s going to be different for Simon and Josef. I’m not in the game. Simply for me it’s whatever those guys need. If I’m ahead, on pole, then it’s take points away. Win the race and make it much harder for someone else to win the championship.
“See how it plays out in qualifying. I understand my position. Those guys would do it for me if the positions were reversed, yeah.”
Power, did play is nicely on Saturday too. While he said that his car struggles a bit in the heat of the day, he could have ran another hot lap to make it into the Fast Six. Instead, they called it a session a bit early due to Pagenaud not being in yet. Why go faster and risk keeping Pagenaud out?
So, Power pulled into the pits while Pagenaud snuck in. Pagenaud, qualified sixth, Power seventh. Just 0.0055-seconds separated the two.
A win on Sunday would end the season on a high note for Power too. The start of the season was very unlike Power. While he won two straight poles to start 2019 off with, he had bad luck in those races.
In the season opener at St. Pete, Power hit pit lane too early thinking that a caution would pin him out. Ryan Hunter-Reay had an engine problem and was slow on track. Roger Penske called Power down pit lane thinking that a caution would fly. It was the right move at the time. But, a yellow never came out.
Unfortunately for Power, RHR got off the racing surface and no yellow was thrown. Power, would lose track position and finish third.
In the next race at COTA, Power led the first 45 laps but this time, a caution did catch him out. Then, while pitting, he had a mechanical issue which forced him to an DNF.
He’d finish 11th in Barber, seventh in Long Beach and seventh in the INDYCAR Grand Prix. For the Indy 500, Power had a contending car but a costly penalty on pit road near the midrace mark cost him a shot at the win. In Belle Isle, he struggled even though he did get a podium in the second race of the doubleheader weekend.
Still, from Barber though Toronto, Power had two top five starting spots in nine tries. Four of those nine saw him start outside of the top 10. He also led a combined 12 laps in that time fame.
Since Mid-Ohio though, Power has been back in the running again. He earned the pole for the Honda Indy 200 and finished fourth. In the next race at Pocono, he started fifth but won. In Gateway, he qualified third but crashed early on. In the last race at Portland, he came from second to win again.
A win Sunday in Laguna Seca would be his third in the final four races. That’s a great ending to what started off as a frustrating year.