Photo: Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR

2018 IndyCar Driver Review: Will Power

By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief

Motorsports Tribune reviews the season of the top 12 drivers from the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Our list continues with the third-place finisher, Will Power.

Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2018: 3rd in the championship 
  • Wins: 3, Top 5: 8, Top 10: 11, Poles: 4, Laps Led: 358
  • Best Finish: 1st (Indy GP, Indianapolis 500, Gateway)

While he did not claim the Verizon IndyCar Series title, the legend of Will Power grew larger after claiming victory in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May.

The year began with a mediocre 10th-place finish in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The next round showed more of a return to form early as he led 80 laps after starting third at ISM Raceway. However, an uncharacteristic error put him out of the race with contact 97 laps from the end and with a 21st-place finish.

The 37-year-old Australian rebounded at the third round with a steady runner-up outing in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Once again, though, he scored a terrible result in the next round, this time with a 22nd-place result in a drenched race at Barber Motorsports Park.

For as hit-or-miss as the opening four races were for Power, it all changed once the month of May came around.

The IndyCar Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course proved to be the start of something special as he started on pole and led 56 of 85 laps en route to a commanding victory of 2.2443 seconds over Scott Dixon.

On May 27, Power realized a dream when he took the checkered flag on the 2.5-mile IMS oval known as the Brickyard. After starting third, he led 59 laps and charged to his first career victory in 11 attempts in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

The achievement of collecting the famous Borg-Warner Trophy added to a legacy that includes capturing the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

There was little hangover experienced when North America’s premier open wheel championship moved on to the doubleheader round in Detroit, with finishes of seventh and second at Belle Isle.

However, the inconsistent runs began to really set in as he endured four finishes of 18th or worse – Texas, Road America, Toronto and Portland – over the final nine races. That stretch also saw four finishes on the podium, including a victory at Gateway Motorsports Park in August to keep his title hopes alive.

Although Power had a mathematical chance to win the title entering the season at Sonoma Raceway, it was all but official that the Astor Cup Trophy was going to go to Dixon or Alexander Rossi. Despite putting up a spirited third-place finish, it wasn’t enough as Dixon did enough to capture his fifth championship.

While a title wasn’t in the cards for Power, the year was still an incredible success with the victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With the lineup at Team Penske remaining the same for a second consecutive year entering 2019 with teammates Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud, there is certainly stability. In theory, the consistent feedback and chemisty  should  help mitigate the teething issues the squad experienced with the universal aero kit this season.

Looking at Power, the biggest thing separating him from a second title is consistency. While his wins, poles and top fives were the same as when he won it all in 2014, the most noticeable difference is top 10 results. This season saw 11 top 10 finishes and 358 laps led. Compare that to his championship-winning season when he scored 15 top 10 results and led an astounding 623 laps.

Overall, Power is still at the top of his game and has all the tools necessary to win anywhere and everywhere. With that said, there is still a lot to like about his championship odds heading into next season.

 

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Joey Barnes is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Motorsports Tribune, and has been on the racing scene since 2012. He has published works in AutoWeek Magazine, as well as IndyCar.com and Motorsport.com, among others. A background that includes semi-professional football and work at a nearby racing school, he has brought that same focus and intensity to the motorsports media world. Additionally, Joey is a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, New York Rangers, and can also hold his own on a bowling lane.