From the tail end of the field to podium supremacy, Will Power had an eventful Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
On a wild Sunday afternoon, nearly every team in the INDYCAR paddock was unhappy. Notably the likes of Andretti Autosport and Arrow McLaren SP, who all had frustrating days at the office. However, one team that was not angry was Team Penske.
This was not just because Scott McLaughlin ended up winning the race, but Power was also smiling. After failing to finish in last year’s race due to a Turn 5 collision, Power’s day went haywire on Lap 2.
Coming into “Thunder Valley,” the 21st place starter was a man on a mission, attempting to get by both Christian Lundgaard and Takuma Sato on the inside line.
That’s when his race took a dramatic turn when the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet lost control. From there, it was a game of catch up and luck being on his side. Fortunately for the man fighting for the Astor Cup, both were granted.
Full course cautions effected several competitors, but Power was able to capitalize on every opportunity he had to gain track position. As the race was coming to a close, Power had worked his way to a podium spot.
As McLaughlin scored his second win of the season, Power finished third and cut some of the gap on points leader Marcus Ericsson.
“You certainly find it fun after the race, but you’re so focused during the race,” Power on his rally and the work behind it. “That’s the enjoyment of a skill – executing it the best you possibly can. Yes, I enjoy it a lot. I enjoy qualifying, putting it all together a whole race weekend. But yeah, when you have a day like that, makes you want to keep going for a long time.”
While people were amazed at Power’s turnaround, he admitted the series of full cautions were both helpful and detrimental.
“Everyone was very choked up and just got someone’s back wheel, trying not to take them out,” Power said regarding the Lap 2 spin. “Spun, kept it running, kept going, and had passed a few cars then and then pitted again, went to the back, and then yeah, just started passing cars.
“Good pit stop sequence. The yellows hurt us actually for the sequences, but it helped us for restarts. We had some good restarts, definitely gained positions because of restarts,” Power reflected when asked about the rest of the race.
“Solid. Another great day, good strategy, and keeping ourselves right in the points game.”
Power’s quest for a second Astor Cup is currently defined as the year luck has come to his favor. Above everything else, how he goes about the races has changed during the off-season. But when asked about how the Power of old would have reacted to the more polished racer, there would not be a ton of differences.
“I’m not doing anything crazy different. I’m just not having strange things happen like spark plugs and brakes not working and just weird things happen to me. I think we had just a great year all around because we haven’t had any mechanicals or anything like this,” Power explained.
“Yes, I did make a slight change in the off-season after watching (reigning champion Alex Palou), and it’s kind of — yeah, I’ll tell you after I’m finished what it was that actually I’ve caught on to that’s helped me a lot.
“After I’m done, and (Palou will) understand — I probably could tell you because you do it anyway. But yeah, it’s good.”
Going into Mid-Ohio, the gap between Ericsson and Power was 27 points. With Ericsson finishing sixth, Power gained seven points and will enter Toronto just 20 points behind.
INDYCAR’s return to Exhibition Place after a two-year absence will be exclusively on Peacock. Live race coverage begins Sunday, July 17 at 3:00 p.m. ET.
In 15 Honda Indy Toronto starts, Power has won the race three times (2007, 2010, and 2016), tied with Scott Dixon as the most among active drivers.