For any other driver, winning the 2018 Indianapolis 500 and finishing third in the NTT IndyCar Series season points standings would be a pretty solid year.
Will Power doesn’t roll that way.
A handful of bad results in was what really kept the Penske Racing driver from running away from the field last season, and he heads into the 2019 season opener at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg looking to improve on a few things.
“Last year there were inconsistencies,” Power said. “There were different things, a couple of mechanical failures, a couple of mistakes by myself and a couple of things that were out of our control. Sometimes you have years like that.”
No doubt, sweeping the weekend at Indy by winning the Grand Prix and his first 500 were highlights, as were a win at Gateway and eight total podium finishes. But when things went sideways for Power, they did in a big way.
Six times Power finished 18th or worse, and a 21st-place result at Portland all but torpedoed his title hopes. Despite bouncing back with a podium finish in the finale at Sonoma, he ended up 96 points behind champion Scott Dixon.
With Helio Castroneves now in a part-time role in IndyCar, Power is the senior driver at Penske as he enters his 10th full-time season. It’s been a great partnership as Power has 32 wins, a championship in 2014 and seven years where he has finished in the top three in points.
This year he is feeling especially optimistic, as the team put more focus on its road and street course package, and he also heads into his second season with team owner Roger Penske on his pit box.
“We’ll see how things stack up team-wise and manufacturer-wise, but time will tell over the next couple of days where we stack up,” he said. “We’ve got the right team around us. Having Roger on the radio for the second year, we know each other well now, and Roger works well with Dave, my engineer on the stand, so from that perspective we are going to be more on top of the strategy.”
Power has had a lot of success on the streets of St. Pete, with two wins and seven poles, but he will enter the race day looking to turn around a downward trend over the last few seasons. After finishing second in 2015, he missed the race in 2016 after a crash put him in concussion protocol, then followed that up with a 19th and 10th-place finish, respectively, the last two seasons.
Power got off to a solid start in the weekend’s first practice session, sitting 10th on the grid with a time of one minute, 2.758 seconds.