By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. – Will Power will enter the season finale at Laguna Seca still as the championship leader after finishing second in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.
This season has been a strong one for Team Penske with all three of their drivers winning a combined total of nine races.
However, out of those nine victories in 16 races, the man leading the championship trail has one which took place at Belle Isle.
Despite this, it has been a tale of strong consistency for Power, something that’s been lacking for years. As proven with another strong afternoon in the Pacific Northwest which marked is eighth podium of the year.
Perhaps the grand picture going out of Portland is Power’s title lead extending from three to 20 over both Josef Newgarden and third-place finisher Scott Dixon. A gap he won’t complain about as he controls his own destiny as to whether or not September 11th will be the day he’ll become a two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion.
“It was a great day, obviously. Good finish,” said Power. “Could have been much worse, I think if (Christian) Lundgaard didn’t get us at the beginning there on the used tire. So spent the day kind of closing that gap to Scott that we got when we were stuck behind cars.
“Solid day. Still a very tough fight. We’ve got to come up to Laguna seriously ready. As you know, in this series it switches incredibly quickly. Got to be smart.”
Power will be one of five drivers (Newgarden, Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Scott McLaughlin being the others) that’ll be mathematically eligible to fight for the Astor Cup at Laguna Seca. The gap between Power and fifth-place Scott McLaughlin, who won at Portland, is 41 points.
Both Power and Dixon had a banter about how the experienced drivers in terms of years. But when it comes down to business, such experience like Power, whose been competing in American open wheel racing since 2005, is crucial.
Especially, when he’s been on both ends of the title chase ranging from winning it all in 2014 to losing it in heartbreaking fashion two years prior.
“I can’t tell you how much experience does play into it, though. Over a season, over even a race, it makes a big difference, and that’s why you see the championship as it is,” Power explained.
“There’s definitely some super quick, young fast guys. What is putting the whole thing together is the experienced bit in my opinion, and you don’t even have to be the quickest guy. You have to be experienced and smart and, obviously, a great team as well makes a difference.”
Live coverage of the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey begins Sunday, September 11 at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC. Colton Herta is the two-time defending race winner.