Will Power has had a rough start to the past few IndyCar seasons, but he is intent on turning that trend around this season and is making it a point to gain the early advantage at the first few stops on the 2021 calendar.
Much to his dismay, Power was never really in contention for the championship last season on account of his poor start to the pandemic-affected year. The delayed season began with the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, which saw him finish a lap down in 13th position.
The next race produced even worse results, and after finishing outside the top 10 in four of the first five rounds, the gap to Scott Dixon at the top of the standings was already all but insurmountable.
The veteran feels the opening few rounds of this season will favor those with Honda engines, and Team Penske’s Chevrolet power plant will struggle to give him the critical early advantage that he needs.
“The first three tracks I feel are difficult tracks for us,” said Power. “I think they’re strong Honda tracks. It’s going to be a very tight first three races.
“We have, as we do every year, a very good chance of winning the championship. For me personally, I need to make sure I’m in the hunt. Properly in the hunt, not clawing my way back after a terrible start to the season.
“After reviewing the previous seasons, we’ve made adjustments. We struggled in the pits quite a bit, and we’ve reviewed mistakes I’ve made as well. I’ve got a slightly different crew this year, and I think the cars will be better as well. I’m pretty confident of that.
“For one reason or another, you can’t really pinpoint the same reason, we’ve lost too many points in the first four races. So that’s a big focus.”
To highlight the importance of a strong start, the last time Power won a race within the first four races of a season was 2014. The Australian’s one and only IndyCar championship came that same year, when he beat out Helio Castroneves by 62 points.
Not that his results since then have been particularly bad. In fact, Power has finished in the top five of the standings every year since 2010, and has won at least one race every year he’s competed in IndyCar. But having a strong start and taking a second championship would fill a void that another merely ‘good’ result could not.
The soon-to-be 40-year-old was asked about his long tenure in the sport, and how he felt about the prestigious records that he could realistically eclipse in the near future.
“It is amazing to see that,” said Power. “It’s something that you wouldn’t have ever thought when I started my career. To be five poles away from equaling Mario Andretti, and up there with Michael Andretti, three wins away from Michael for fourth on the list is really cool too. The Andretti name is such a legendary name in the sport.
“I’m still as motivated as ever and I love it as much as I ever have. I expect to keep going here, and really want to have a good show of the championship this year. Really aiming on having a good start to the season.
“Been with my engineer for more than a decade now, and we know each other so well. I have three very good team-mates, three very strong guys. I expect the team to be very strong this year as a whole.”
Power will begin his 13th year with Team Penske on April 18, when the NTT IndyCar Series visits Barber Motorsports Park for the opening round of the season.