At the conclusion of the rain-soaked Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, Will Power left Birmingham barely hanging onto 10th place in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings and even less in the way of confidence.
The Team Penske driver had made an early exit from the 82-lap race when he lost control of the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet and smacked the inside of the pit wall. Despite heading back out to the track after his team made the necessary repairs to finish the race, Power had already set his sights on Indianapolis.
“I feel bad for the team and for the fans in this weather… just too bad. Hopefully our luck can turn around when we get to Indianapolis.”
And boy did it ever?
On May 12, Power struck claim as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course king when he outlasted Robert Wickens and Scott Dixon en route to a third career INDYCAR Grand Prix victory.
Two weeks later, the Australian native captured the crown jewel of IndyCar racing by winning the Indianapolis 500 this past Sunday.
In a matter of 15 days, Power has vaulted himself from 10th to 1st in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings with the help of his victory at the INDYCAR Grand Prix, a 3rd place qualifying effort from the Indy 500 and of course, cashing in on the double-points haul that the Indianapolis 500 pays.
While the lead is slim – Power holds a two-point advantage over Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi – that is a hell of a lot better than what the alternative was at the end of April.
Now the focus shifts to the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on the streets of Belle Isle, another opportunity to gain twice as many points in one weekend as a normal INDYCAR event pays. Power is a two-time winner in Detroit and understands the change of gear needed to move on from Indy.
“This has been an amazing week so far,” Power said. “When you want something so much (like the Indianapolis 500 win) and it finally comes true, that your hard work has paid off, it is a great feeling. Now we have to focus on Detroit with the No. 12 Verizon team because I don’t want to experience a hangover from the win when we are leading the points.”
For Power, the race in Detroit not only signals a continuation of what will certainly be a hard-fought points battle, but also an important date on the calendar for his team owner, Roger Penske.
“This is such an important weekend for Roger and Chevrolet,” Power explains. “It’s great to come here as the Indy 500 Champion, but we want to win here too because this race means a lot to a lot of people.
“It’s such a tough circuit that you have to be in the game from the drop of the green flag or you can have a bad day pretty quick.”
Team Penske drivers have won four of the last five INDYCAR events dating back to Josef Newgarden’s victory at ISM Raceway in April. Look for Power’s qualifying pace to place him firmly in the first few rows for the green flag on Saturday in Detroit race one.
Image courtesy of Chris Jones/INDYCAR Media.