MONTEREY, California. It was the morning after Team Penske’s Willpower team upped their already legendary racing status with their second NTT IndyCar Series championship title.
The Toowoomba, Australia native was trying to grab a quick breakfast between press duties in a hotel conference room…when he realized there was another container on the counter that needed to be opened.
Power’s eyes lit up at the beautiful sight of crispy bacon.
WOMAN’S INTUITION: Liz Power gut felt many of the moments that define her husband’s career.
The authority is usually a person with a strict regime regarding their diet. The cockpit of Indy’s car is very cramped, and at 41, Power is working hard to keep the teen’s waistline.
But this morning, he indulged in a few extra bits of bacon as a treat for winning the championship.
All hail the IndyCar champion, the man who became part of motorsport royalty on Sunday by winning the series championship for the second time in his career.
“It’s very satisfying,” Power said Sunday as he took his second title in eight years and third at the Firestone Grand Prix in Monterey. “Very nice.”
What teamwork 💪
— Willpower (@12WillPower) September 12, 2022
Once considered a wild man, fatherhood and middle age brought Power a reassuring maturity. It’s the simple things in life that Power loves the most, like holding his 5-year-old son Bo in the pit lane.
Green tea is Will Power’s favorite drink, and he enjoyed it Sunday night as he celebrated with his team one of the greatest achievements of an IndyCar career, which includes an all-time pole record of 68 and 41 wins, including the 2018 Indy 500.
The power lies somewhere in the conversation of the greatest IndyCar racers. He achieved great success during the era of six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti.
Since 2017, one of his fiercest rivals has been his Penske teammate Josef Newgarden. Power’s longtime racing strategist, Team Penske president Tim Sindrik left the Power pits to take on the same duties at Newgarden.
The combination was an instant success as Newgarden won the 2017 IndyCar title in his first season with the team. He won another one in 2019.
At Penske, the motto is “When the team wins, we all win.” But Power recalls seeing Newgarden’s championship celebration and not being in a happy mood about his teammate.
“No, I wasn’t happy for him,” Power told NBC Sports. “You are not quite like that. To be honest, you are very disappointed because you have the same equipment as him. You see a teammate come in and win a couple of championships, it motivates you and it’s frustrating because you’re pitted against your teammate.
“Just having cool teammates improves you.”
There have been times since then when Newgarden seemed outwardly favored and Power was moved down the list.
At 40, Power knows his chances of winning a championship are dwindling. That’s why he was so determined and focused on winning one more tournament before his career ended. And that’s how he devised a consistency strategy to take nine podiums – offsetting Newgarden’s five series wins – in 2022.
“In 2020, I had an amazing pace and almost managed to win seven times,” Power said. “I had a great opportunity to win. So I was always there trying to win another championship.
“This year, everything coincided very well, very consistently. I finished every lap of every race. In fact, I can’t remember a season like this that I had in my career.”
Power made it to the season finale with Newgarden on his tail. Power led Newgarden and Dixon in the championship by only 20 points, but Newgarden had an advantage based on his five wins.
Power knew he would have to contend with Newgarden in Sunday’s race, even after Newgarden failed to make it out of Saturday’s first round of qualifying because a Corkscrew crash had left him starting in 25th place.th.
Power won pole, breaking a tie with Mario Andretti and setting a career high.
“It definitely took the pressure off that first round when Scott Dixon was out and Josef was out,” Power recalled. “I was very focused on getting the job done anyway.
“It’s a lot of pressure. Then it’s all about taking pole position to give yourself the best chance of lapping, which makes things even more difficult for these guys.
“It was a critical moment where you didn’t want to make the mistake of putting yourself in that position.
“It would be interesting to see how the race would have turned out even if Josef had qualified.
“Who knows? Maybe he’ll get pole, maybe he won’t. But if he’s in the top six, it makes the race easier because you’re 100 percent behind him in line instead of wondering what to do.” and he has the same tires as you. He had a bunch of tires and I was worried about it before the race.”
Even with Newgarden being so deep in the battlefield, Power knew it was only a matter of time before he was on the front lines. On lap 46, Newgarden overtook Power for second place.
“At this point, you think you have to do everything you can to keep the position you are in,” Power said, referring to the fact that he was third and that would have secured the championship regardless of anyone else. “You knew it didn’t matter if he passed you, but if you kept him behind, it would make your job a lot easier.
“I had to dig deep. I really did. That stint where he did 12 seconds on the same tyre, and the next stint after we changed tyres, I was faster than him. It was very strange for us and very strange for me that there were different tires.”
It was at this point that Power became Alex Palow’s biggest fan.
The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series Champion races for rival Chip Ganassi Racing. Palu was so far ahead of Newgarden that it had a different postal code.
In third place, Power hoped Palow would finish in a different time zone ahead of Newgarden.
“Oh yes, at that moment I was very rooting for Alex,” admitted Power. “Alex was on another level. He was firm. When the team said that Palu was ahead of Josef by 20 seconds, I said: “It makes my task much easier.”
“As the circles slowly ended, I thought, ‘OK, this looks pretty good.’ ”
Newgarden’s secret weapon is Sindrik, who is arguably the best race strategist in the business, seeing the big picture of a race as it progresses and quickly determining a strategy to succeed.
In charge of all day to day racing activities in Mooresville, North Carolina, Syndrik is actually Power’s boss. But on race day, Syndrik’s drive to compete is focused on putting Newgarden on a winning streak.
“It worried me a lot,” Power said. “Tim is one of the best pit lane strategists. It’s hard. He’s pretty smart. He knows the game well.
“Tim is in a difficult position because, on the one hand, he has to do everything possible for Josef. On the other hand, he wants the team to win the championship, so he doesn’t want us to beat each other.
“For me, he has a difficult role.”
Since Sindrik left to join Newgarden, Power’s racing strategists have been Jon Buslog (2018) and team owner Roger Penske (2019).
When Penske bought Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar, he stepped down from his pit stop duties to avoid conflicts of interest, so Power’s race strategist became Team Penske Managing Director Ron Ruzewski, a brilliant engineer and team leader who works closely with the Cindric and IndyCar team. . manager Kyle Moyer (who names Scott McLaughlin’s second-year driver strategy).
Ruzewski told NBCSports.com that as the championship heats up, strategic bouts get more interesting. Especially when the other two strategists ask, “What are you going to do?” Even in Team Penske, there is a certain amount of game-playing prowess in operations where the team comes first.
“That’s interesting,” Power said. “I didn’t even know that when they have meetings, they ask:“ What are you guys going to do?
“I think it’s fair to say that you’re going to be holding back something because this is a competition and you’re competing with your teammates for championships and race wins. This makes it interesting. This is good, healthy competition.
“It’s usually pretty obvious what someone can do based on his position, where he qualified and what tire he’s going to start the race on.”
Power’s secret weapon is longtime engineer David Faustino, who has worked with Power for his entire IndyCar career except for 2006 and 2009.
“I was lucky to have Dave,” Power said. “We hit it off right away in 2007. He has the same attitude as me. He is very determined to win and works very hard.
“He was on three different teams, just like me. It’s a great combination over these 16 years.”
Power’s second championship title is also Faustino’s second IndyCar title, but the first time a car that Ruzewski has been directly involved in winning a championship.
“I was very happy to have Ron,” Power said. “He is pretty calm on the radio. Pretty laid back and I think he works well with Dave. I’m really happy to get the championship for both of these guys and happy…