After three straight seasons contending for a championship, Team Penske’s Will Power is having a decidedly down campaign in 2013 with just two Top-10s in seven races so far. But a win tonight at Texas Motor Speedway could trigger a second-half surge from the Australian pilot.
Power is on the pole for the Firestone 550 (8:30 pm ET, check local listings) after burying the field in qualifying yesterday with a two-lap average of 219.182 miles per hour – more than 1.5 mph ahead of the man starting beside him on the front row, Marco Andretti (217.553 mph). His lone win on an oval came two years ago at TMS in the second of a pair of 275-mile races, and he was also a threat to win there last season until he drew a blocking penalty for coming down on Tony Kanaan shortly after a late restart; he eventually finished eighth.
The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet has not been in an IndyCar victory lane since the end of a three-race win streak last year at Sao Paulo, Brazil. However, Power’s feeling optimistic about his chances tonight in Fort Worth.
“It’s going to be an interesting race and I think the downforce level I’ve got is about right for good racing,” said Power on Friday. “I think some cars are a lot more than others, and if you happen to put new tires on the last restart and no one else does, you can go in the front. It will create some interesting situations and hopefully, we’re at the front of all that.”
Power is especially enthused about having more control with the current style of racing as opposed to dealing with pack-dominated events in the past on the 1.5-mile oval.
“Before, you were just a passenger,” he said. “Now you actually have to drive the thing. Before, you were just wide open and hope for the best and hopefully, your car [was] fast, but now you have to drive it. So, it’s how it should be. It should be about talent.”
Indeed, the game has changed at the IZOD IndyCar Series’ second home – and it’s been playing into the hands of Power, one of the most talented drivers in the paddock.
With himself and Team Penske still winless this season, tonight’s race would appear to be a golden opportunity to break the goose egg.