Team Penske president Tim Cindric has taken the first step to indicate a number switch for newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power in 2015.
Power has run the No. 12 since joining Team Penske in 2009, with his Verizon Team Penske entry full-time since 2010.
But with the title he claimed Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway, Power appears set to adopt the champion’s No. 1 for 2015, which is available to be utilized but hasn’t been taken up as often as it used to be.
A fan asked the question of car numbers on Twitter Saturday night, and Cindric responded thusly:
— Tim Cindric (@TimCindric) August 31, 2014
Assuming Power makes the switch, he’d join teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves in numerical order of Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in 2015.
Ryan Hunter-Reay took the champion’s No. 1 in 2013 but struggled through an up-and-down year.
Prior to that, the most recent No. 1 usage was by Sebastien Bourdais in Champ Car, from 2005 through 2007 (after titles from 2004 through 2007), and Scott Dixon in 2004 after his 2003 IndyCar title.
Dixon opted to retain the No. 9 for his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet this season, as he has had the same number since 2003.
On one hand, it makes a lot of sense for Power to run the 1. It’s 15 years in the making as Power has grown in his career year-by-year, and now finally be rewarded with the champion’s number. It also would see Team Penske run the 1 for the first time since Gil de Ferran did in the 2001 CART season, after claiming the 2000 championship.
On the other, it would be a bit of a shift as Power and the 12 are about as synonymous in IndyCar as any driver-number pairing this side of Dixon in the last several years. In a series that struggles for the same visual driver/number recognizability as NASCAR drivers tend to have, Power and the 12 are well established. Verizon and Power have been linked by the 12 for all their marketing and promotional materials; show cars have the 12 as well. Power’s Twitter handle is @12WillPower, so there’s that, too.
Still, we know how smart and savvy Cindric and Team Penske are. The benefits of running the 1 for one year would likely outweigh the negatives of the alterations needed – and given the title drought for the team that’s now ended, it would be just reward for their accomplishments.