By David Morgan, Associate Editor
When it comes to racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Will Power is among the best on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn layout, using that experience Saturday to score a podium finish and propel himself to the NTT IndyCar Series points lead.
The five-time winner on the treacherous road course started from pole for the 64th time in his career and used that early track position to his advantage, remaining in the top-10 for the majority of the race.
Though he started the two-hour long race on wet tires, he and the remainder of the field ducked off of road within the first three or four laps to switch out to the alternate Firestone red tires, which he stayed on for all but the final stint of the race from lap 62 to the finish when the rain returned and wet weather tires were needed again.
After his final pit stop, Power steadily climbed up the scoring pylon as the clock ticked toward zero, eventually settling into third place before the final caution flew to bring the race to its end. His second podium finish of the season boosted him from fourth in points to start the day to the points leader by 14 points over defending series champion Alex Palou.
“Stoked with third,” Power said. “Really happy to get the Verizon Team Penske Chevy on the podium after a mayhem day. I just tried to be smart and sit back. Didn’t want to take too big of a risk. I give it to guys like Colton [Herta] and Pato [O’Ward] who could wheel it in these conditions.
“They’re hard to contend with, these guys, but congrats to Colton to put that race together like that with all those conditions to get it done.
“The experience really helped. If you survive a day like this. I mean, you could have picked the wrong tire and it could be a terrible day, but in every situation, I just tried to be as smart as I could and not take a big risk. It’s usually not fun not racing for a win, but it wasn’t the condition to try and do that with the points battle.”
Saturday’s finish also marks a continuation of Power’s strong start to the 2022 season, where he has not finished lower than fourth in the first five races of the year.
Power joked around with former teammate and runner-up finisher Simon Pagenaud about how he has stepped up his performance this season.
“I’m not having issues with the spark plugs and brakes, and what else went wrong? The car is not starting. They were pretty good results right there,” Power said.
PAGENAUD: “Maybe my presence was bad for you, I guess.” (Laughing)
POWER: “Just changed my whole mentality.”
PAGENAUD: I’m sorry. I wasted all these years for you.”
POWER: “It’s good because I’m kind of the lone guy. I’m the older guy, and you have the two young blokes, good mates. I’m just getting the work done. Actually, it’s been a good thing from me. I put my head down and do the work.”
PAGENAUD: “Great job, man.”
POWER: “Not screwing around with Josef in the office. It’s working out good.”
The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet will now look to carry his early season momentum into the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, where he won back in 2018.
Practice for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” begins on May 17, with qualifying set to take place May 21-22, and the main event on Sunday, May 29.