Holding back puts Power ahead when it counts

Will Power had been close to victory plenty of times during his 34-race winless streak, only to see his prospects slip away. So when a golden opportunity presented itself at Road America, he played it cool.

“Yeah, I sat back,” Power said of his early acceptance to playing a backstop role in Team Penske’s three-car storm out front. “I kind of couldn’t get Scott [McLaughlin] without using a lot of push to pass. I sat back. I knew I had a lap of fuel on him. I was making the reds last. My in-lap was super quick. They [tires] didn’t really go off for me at all. I was kind of babying them. I sat behind there. That was a big in-lap. Gave me enough of a gap on Josef [Newgarden] to be able to get up to speed on the cold tires.”

Power admitted being able to celebrate with wife Liz in victory lane made it all the more meaningful, given the medical issues she’s been struggling with.


“It was very special. She was in tears. So was her mother. Had [son] Beau there,” said Power. “Yeah, been a rough trot. It was last year we didn’t get a win. She wasn’t at a lot of the races.

“You start thinking, ‘Should I be racing at all? If something happens to Liz and something happens to me, is she going to get better? What’s going to happen.’ The doctor said this can come back at any time. Should I be racing? That was the thing that was planted in my mind last year.

“You certainly don’t perform at your highest level because you don’t want your son to have no parents. That is sort of the thing you’re thinking. Yeah, tough wrestling with that. Ultimately, yeah, if she wasn’t getting better, I would stop. I would have to stop for my son. Simple as that.

“I have to say I’m a better driver again this year than I was in ’22 when I won the championship. Last year was sort of a stall-out year. Not much I could do. Spending a lot of time at home, looking after Liz, making sure everything was going well for her.

“Back to Liz helping me — she is a big part of my preparation. We’re back as a team again.”

Satisfying as it was to end his drought, Power recognizes there’s a lot more work to do to get where he wants to be.

“We have to win more this year. It’s a tough field,” he said. “That’s one thing I was a little cautious in ’22 at times where I felt like I needed to push the envelope a little more. It’s that fine line. I think [Alex] Palou is the one that nails that perfectly, of aggression versus risks and so on.

“I feel like as a package we are very strong. You see Colton [Herta] has incredible speed at times, but things seem to happen, which you go through when you’re young. You know, that guy’s going to be pretty strong in the future.

“I feel like as a package we’re pretty good. Pretty good…”

Story originally appeared on Racer