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‘Happy’ Will Power Takes Third at St. Pete Despite Late Race Chagrins

Will Power kicks off 2022 with a podium result at St. Petersburg (Photo: James Black | Penske Entertainment).

It’s always important for a competitor to start the NTT IndyCar Series campaign with strong result. For the second straight year, Power kicks off the championship trail with a podium after finishing third in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

This feat marked the 2014 champion’s 86th career podium, two shy of tying the Bobby Unser and Al Unser, Jr. for eighth on the all-time podiums list. Such info surprised Power because he didn’t knew there was a list for it.

He then asked if there’s an all-time front row start list, which he believes it’s well up there. The folks from INDYCAR told him they’ll get back on that. Factoids aside, Power had a strong weekend in Florida, hoping it’ll be the start of putting a miserable 2021 campaign behind.

When the 26-car field took the green flag, he started alongside pole sitter and Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin. However, Power quickly lost spots before reaching the first corner.

To his long-term advantage, Power started the day with the primary Firestone black compounds, one of only eight drivers to do so at race start.

Power explained what went wrong in the opening lap and added the lone caution for a Lap 25 crash by David Malukas set him back for a period of time, more so when his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet was on the cusp of catching McLaughlin.

“I got on the paint and it spun up when I went, which I wasn’t,” said Power.

“I knew everyone would come back to me because the reds would go off, but unfortunately caught that yellow, so we were coming pretty good. I was pretty sure we’d be able to get past Scott, but unfortunately then, I’d have to get on reds and try and maintain a reasonable pace, which I did in the second stint for a whole stint.

“I think we could have been all right today with that strategy, but caught out with the yellow. Something else I’ve been on about for a decade is closing the pits under yellow because that would have been so nice to be able to pit when it went yellow there.”

Power fought hard to get the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet in position to fight with the leaders. He was in the mix in the closing laps as lapped traffic became challenging for McLaughlin and Alex Palou.

McLaughlin and Palou pitted earlier (Laps 65 and 66 respectively) than Power, who pitted for the final time on Lap 67 for fuel and a used primary set of Firestones.

Power, who was over three seconds behind, still wasn’t able to cut the gap enough to make the battle for the win into a three-way dance.

“I’m happy with my result, but I’m unhappy with the lack of things that get done,” Power’s response after Palou said he wasn’t feeling good during the post-race press conference.

“I feel great, but I just like to point out the problems that could be fixed so easily within the series with just a little change,” Power concluded.

A part of the frustration stemmed from dealing with lapped traffic and like his new livery, Power saw a bit of red. It was evident when Power and Palou continued bantering with the former calling out Jimmie Johnson, who finished a lap behind race winner McLaughlin.

“You try to tell (INDYCAR Race Control) I’ve got a great idea, it’s called blue flags when someone is a lap down and they’re racing the leader that’s battling for a win,” Power commented.

Palou asked if Power screamed on the radio.

“No, I never say much on the radio,” Power responded.

“I said, oh, Jimmie looks like he’s trying to get a bit of coverage here. I had a bit of fun with it,” Power on Johnson. “It’s a good battle between him and I, I hope the TV is getting that sponsor for him.”

Moments later, Palou was asked about being the lone highlight out of the Chip Ganassi Racing team. Power intervened and the banter continued.

“Jimmie was P3 — oh, hang on, no, he was racing me — oh, he was a lap down, sorry. I thought he was — the way he was racing I thought it was for the podium,” said Power.

“The question is for me,” Palou replied.

“Sorry, I just thought he had it wrong,” said Power.

“Poor Jimmie, man. He’s my man,” said Palou.

On a serious note, Power’s runner-up finish is certainly important for him and Team Penske if they’re going to contend for more wins and ultimately the championship. That alone is worth a smile and relaxation in his eyes.

“I think anytime you’re on the podium, anytime you have a top five, that’s not the day you’re going to look back and go, oh, that cost me the championship,” said Power. “If you can keep rattling off those top fives, you’re going to be in the game. Definitely happy with the result.”

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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