Will Power: “It is so good to go into next year with a couple of wins”

by Jordan Groves

After claiming his second win of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series in yesterday’s Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway, Team Penske‘s Will Power has stated that he is pleased to have picked up two victories at the end of what has been a difficult season for him.

Power entered the Grand Prix of Portland in a familiar situation. He has come into many races this season hoping to bounce back after enduring a difficult result and last weekend was no different. A potentially strong result, or maybe even a chance at victory, had gotten away from him at Gateway Motorsports Park after a simple error saw him hit the wall shortly after his first pit-stop.

With Will already out of realistic contention for the championship, his sole focus heading into the final few races was to pick up as many race wins as possible to give himself some positive momentum heading into 2020.

The weekend in Portland started decently for Power. The Australian would qualify on the front-row of the grid in second-place, just missing out on pole position to Colton Herta by just two-hundredths of a second. Power would blame flat spots on his tyres for his deficit to pole position, but maintained that he was happy with the result.

“The lockup screwed me.” Power said after Saturday’s qualifying session. “Flat spotted the tire. Any left-handers, you really paid for it. But still happy to be P2 in the Verizon Chevy.  It was my fault for not warming the brakes a bit more.  It is tough when you have to pump them out straight-away. P2 – you can definitely win from there.  We need a win. We will go for it tomorrow.”

Power also joked that he felt as though Colton needed to pay him back after the rookie won at Circuit of the Americas despite Power having led the most laps prior to mechanical failure on pit-road: “Colton owes me a win from COTA so maybe he will let me go.”

At the start of Sunday’s race, Power would lose out on the run down into turn one and would lose a position to Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon. Herta would lead for much of the opening stint of the race, but he would suffer from rapid tyre degradation prior to his pit-stop and would fall down into fifth place. Dixon was the first to overtake Herta to take the lead and would build up an advantage of several seconds over Power by the time the Australian was able to work his way into second place.

Dixon would go on to lead the next phase of the race and it looked as though Power would not quite be able to catch and pass him without issues. Thankfully for Will, those issues arose. Shortly after the halfway point, Dixon’s car would suddenly cut-out and he would be forced to coast into the pits for a battery replacement. He would fall three laps down, with Power taking over the lead of the race.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

From there, Power was able to lead comfortably with relatively little opposition. However, a final caution period inside the final ten laps threatened to ruin Will’s day, with Santino Ferrucci bringing out the caution after stopping on the main straight. With so few laps remaining and track position being so vital, none of the leaders would pit and would take the restart with four laps to go with an unchanged, but much more condensed, running order.

Power, determined not to lose what would be his second win of the year, got a great jump on the rest of the field on the restart. As such, he was well out of reach from Felix Rosenqvist at turn one and he would go on to build up a lead of over a second in just one lap. By the time Power came around to take the chequered flag, he had a three-second advantage over second-placed Rosenqvist; such was his pace advantage in the closing stages of the race.

The win would be Power’s second of the season and his second in the last three races. His first win of the season came a few weeks ago at Pocono Raceway after the race was ended shortly after halfway due to rain. With another win under his belt, Power’s season looks to be ending much better than perhaps expected, with Will having finished outside of the top ten on six occasions so far this season.

After climbing from his #12 Chevrolet victorious, Power spoke of how tough the race had been despite having had a comfortable pace advantage at the end of the race. He went on to talk about how he was happy to have picked up victories at the end of the season, as it would give him some positive momentum heading into 2020.

“It was a pretty tough race for the Verizon Chevy.” Power said in victory circle. “[Felix] Rosenqvist caused some pressure. At the end, we could slowly pull away and I felt like ‘Oh yeah, this is going to be good,” and then we got that yellow flag and I’m like ‘Oh, come on, man!’ But I was determined to get a good restart and just so stoked to get into Victory Lane.

“It helps the teams and the other guys take some points away [in the championship fight]. Awesome. I’m exhausted. I’m mentally exhausted. We’ve had plenty of what-if years. We will just race right now how we will race next year. It is so good to go into next year with a couple of wins.”

Power will be hoping to be in contention for a third win of the year at the final race of the season in just under three weeks time. The season finale, the 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterery, will take place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, September 22.

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