MONTEREY, California- After a consistent 17-race campaign, a third-place finish at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was good enough for Team Penske’s Will Power to become the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series champion.
Now, Power is a two-time IndyCar champion. He won his first championship in 2014. Eight years later, Power delivered his second Astor Cup to Team Penske and the organization’s 17th IndyCar title.
During the 2022 season, Power’s No. 12 Chevrolet visited victory lane once at Belle Isle Park and finished on the podium nine times. While teammate Josef Newgarden won five races, consistency elevated Power to the promised land.
“From the beginning, it was just playing the long game, not necessarily going for the big wins and all that,” Power said. “As I’ve gotten older, I have a lot more gratitude for my life and what I get to do.
“Not everyone gets to do this and I’m lucky and I appreciate it a lot.”
To go along with his new championship trophy, Power reached a historic feat a day before the race. After scoring the 68th pole of his IndyCar career, Power broke Mario Andretti’s record for most pole positions.
Until another driver reaches this elite level, Power owns the bragging rights as the greatest qualifier in IndyCar history.
“When I think about the era he raced in, how dangerous it was and how much more of a risk it was, it just blows my mind I’m there with Mario,” Power said.
Mario Andretti 🤝 Will Power pic.twitter.com/A7Th833HfM
— Team Penske (@Team_Penske) September 10, 2022
In what could be his final race with Chip Ganassi Racing, Alex Palou continued to block out the drama off the track, regarding his contract situation, to end the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season on a high note, winning the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
Palou won three times in his championship-winning season last year and entering Laguna Seca, there was a possibility that he might go winless in 2022. However, he ended the year on top with a dominant 30.3812-second victory over Newgarden in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“We struggled a bit during the whole weekend, and I don’t know what happened today,” said Palou. “But everything clicked. Super happy to win a race this year.”
Despite finishing second at Laguna Seca and second in this year’s championship, Newgarden still felt some disappointment to lose out on the title by 16 points. When reflecting on Newgarden’s 2022 season, one has to wonder how different the title fight would be if it wasn’t for the mechanical failure that ended his day in the second race at Iowa Speedway.
The No. 2 Chevrolet seemed destined to sweep the Iowa doubleheader weekend until the race retirement, leaving lots of valuable points on the table and it was totally out of Newgarden’s control.
“You know, I hate to say it but in a lot of ways this has been a really tough year,” Newgarden said. “So it’s going to be a welcome offseason. It has been a taxing, taxing season. We have had a lot of highs, but a lot of lows. And just riding the roller coaster this year has brought me to a breaking point a couple of points in the year.
“But I am ultimately just proud in the team because this is a big day for everybody to win the championship. Huge congrats to Will (Power) and the entire team because this is an effort by everybody. Whether it was the two car, or the 12 or the three, we all take a lot of pride in it. All these crew members, they work on every single car. The ultimate goal is to win a championship for Team Penske.”
After qualifying on the front row for the first time in his young IndyCar career, Callum Ilott experienced heartbreak when he stalled exiting the pits. The race’s only full-course caution occurred on Lap 39 for the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.
Additionally, Fifth-place finisher Christian Lundgaard won the 2022 Rookie of the Year award over David Malukas.
Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Top-10 Results: Palou, Newgarden, Power, Rosenqvist, Lundgaard, McLaughlin, Grosjean, O’Ward, Ericsson, Rossi.