By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Will Power may have gotten a podium in Sunday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500, but he wasn’t fully satisfied with a third-place result after leading 40 of 200 laps at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Once again, clean air was the name of the game for any NTT IndyCar Series competitor that had the luxury of leading the race. The only way a driver could retain or lose the top spot were two ways — traffic and indeed pit stops which have really come to define many 2020 campaigns.
This was the case with Power’s final stop of the afternoon on Lap 153, just a single lap later than Pato O’Ward, who also had a strong car throughout the day.
Once bringing his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet into the pits, the crew did their valiant effort to get him out quickly, but wasn’t enough to fend off O’Ward, not even his Team Penske teammate and eventual race winner Josef Newgarden.
Power was irate and threw some expletives over the radio, criticizing his No. 12 team for not being aware of the traffic when pit strategy mattered most.
“The best option for us was to pit with Pato and Josef. That would’ve covered those guys,” Power said of the final stop. “Tough decision for the strategist to be honest and unfortunate to lead laps and still not come out for the win.”
From there, it was quiet up until the laps remaining hit single digits as lap traffic could’ve made things hellacious for the third-place starter.
Due to Alexander Rossi’s saucy Turn 1 pass on Simon Pagenaud, the field began closing the gap towards one another. Pagenaud’s No. 22 Menards Chevrolet ended up being the caboose in the closing laps, leading to Power from having a steady podium result to really fighting for it as Rinus VeeKay was all over him on the backstretch.
The battle for the last spot of the podium was halted when Takuma Sato went wide and hit the wall at the exit of Turn 1, bringing out the caution with four to go and it ended the race.
It’s Power’s 79th career INDYCAR podium and the third of the year. No doubt a huge improvement after his last two races were a 14th in last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and 17th yesterday where he wasn’t anywhere near competitive.
“We had a very good car. We had the car to win, but obviously it’s a traffic game,” Power said after the race. “I got to thank all the guys because our No. 12 Chevy was really strong today. We had great stops. Great car. The strategy certainly didn’t work out at the end, but I’m still very happy to get a podium.”
Power moves up from ninth to eighth in the championship trail with just five rounds remaining, four of them being doubleheader events at Mid-Ohio in two weeks time and the Harvest GP at Indianapolis in October.
While a shot for a second championship looks out of reach due to trailing Scott Dixon by 190 points, Power found some positives on a day that could’ve been more ideal.
“We certainly had a lot of potential this year,” said Power. “Very strange year but I feel very fortunate to drive the Verizon car, getting to do this and actually have some fans. Obviously, we’d love to win but it wasn’t today.”