Will Power was making the most of what was then a part-time opportunity to drive for Team Penske when he sustained two fractured vertebrae and a concussion in an August 2009 practice crash at Sonoma Raceway.
The wreck with Nelson Philippe ended Power’s season and left him wondering if his chances of becoming a full-time IndyCar racer were gone. But team owner Roger Penske was pleased with Power’s efforts (a win at Edmonton and three podiums in six ’09 starts), and indeed brought the Aussie on full-time in 2010.
And when the IndyCars came back to Sonoma that year, Power dominated the field – leading 73 of 75 laps en route to what would be his fifth and final win of the year.
A full-course yellow with 10 laps remaining gave Scott Dixon one last shot to take down Power in the final circuits, but Power was able to hang on to the point and secure an emotionally sweet win by seven-tenths of a second.
“I tell you, at the end of 2008, I was almost ready to go home to Australia and race [V8 Supercars],” Power said after his win. “Had I not gotten this opportunity [with Penske], I never would have known what my potential was.”
Power has since established himself as a part of IndyCar’s nucleus in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. In the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons, he entered the final race of each of those campaigns with a chance to win the championship.
You can watch this year’s running of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma next Sunday, Aug. 25, at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.