Power ‘blocking out the noise’ from the Penske scandal

Will Power says his focus-forward attitude, in the wake of IndyCar’s penalties to Team Penske and the team’s self-imposed personnel suspensions, has helped put him in a strong position in the championship.

Saturday’s Sonsio Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course was the first of two race events in which he lost the person who traditionally calls his strategy, Ron Ruzewski, and data acquisition engineer Robbie Atkinson. The absence of this pair, along with team president Tim Cindric and Josef Newgarden’s race engineer Luke Mason, is how Roger Penske has punished his team for Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin being disqualified from the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The push-to-pass lockout controlled by IndyCar for starts and restarts was found to have been overridden on all three Penske cars, and Newgarden and McLaughlin had used the extra boost when they should not.

Power’s long-time race engineer Dave Faustino stepped up to also call strategy for the No. 12 this weekend, and Power qualified third and finished second to fellow two-time champ Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing. The result brings Power his third runner-up finish in four championship races, and his 101st Indy car podium and leaves him second in the points table, 12 behind Palou.


Power said he had no obvious answers to the race pace of Palou, who started from pole, but was happy to beat the other front-row starter, Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

“I don’t know what else we could have done there,” he reflected. “I think that was a very solid day from us. We tried the undercut. It was just a little cooler today where the undercut wasn’t quite as strong. We gave it all we got. Once again, my boys on pit lane were gaining me positions. Actually at Barber, two races in a row, we jumped Lundgaard in a pit stop. I’m lucky to have them; they’re solid.

“Just didn’t quite have enough on that restart. I had to lift coming into the last corner, just had too much push, otherwise it would have been an interesting battle into Turn 1. I didn’t know whether to go for the inside or the outside but [Palou] made it very clear he was going to go up the inside, so I kind of went outside. Just wasn’t far enough along to make it work.”

Asked about Penske’s suspension of four personnel for the month of May, Power suggested the team was deep enough that the roles of the absentees had been well covered.

“Honestly, it has run very well this weekend, even with everything that’s happened,” he said. “Everyone has got their head down. They’re working hard. Yep, disappointed how all that sort of played out, but focusing forward, not even thinking about the penalties. It is just one of those things. It was a mistake, and it happened. When you’re a top team like Penske, people certainly like to really blow everything up and make a big deal of it, although it was just a mistake. It was actually a mistake – I know, I was testing [the hybrid equipped car] when the software was put in. It was just one of those things.

“I’ve just kept my head down, tried to block out all the noise. Looking forward. That’s my job. My job is to turn up every week and give my absolute best and be professional and race to the best of my ability, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m working hard and trying to get a win but just being smart.”

Asked if Faustino will continue his dual role of race engineer and strategist for the Indy 500, Power replied, “I expect that to be the case. I can’t see why not. He did a very good job. Didn’t really have any issues. He’s done it for so long. Ultimately he has a lot to do with the strategy anyway, he just doesn’t call it. Yeah, I would expect him to be in that same position…

“The team just has good people. You can lose a couple and then the slack is taken up pretty easily. I think every stand ran pretty flawlessly even though we’re lacking people. That’s just the way the team is. It’s got a lot of depth, a lot of good people. It’s easy to move people around and put them in different positions, and they perform at a really high standard. Not surprising.

“It’s a well-oiled machine. You can miss a couple of cogs and it still works. Yeah, it’s not a big deal. It’s disappointing, but just one of those things.”

Penske pitwork helped Power beat Lundgaard, but ultimately neither of them had an answer for Palou. Geoffrey Miller/Motorsport Images

Power also played down any frustration with Marcus Ericsson, who stymied his attempts to lay down fast laps when he first tried to undercut Palou and Lundgaard.

“He’s on the lead lap…so there’s nothing that he did wrong,” said Power. “He just happened to be in that spot. Would be nice if he had let me go. It’s just… he’s racing, too. If he’s a lap down, yes, that sort of thing is very frustrating, but if we’re [exiting the pits] where he is on track, well, that’s on us… If he’s on the lead lap, it’s not on him to let me go.”

Story originally appeared on Racer