Will Power came into the media center last night after his third win in the last five races in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season, and second of his career on an oval, absolutely high on life.
Power turned in his most dominant oval performance of his career, leading six times for a race-high 103 laps. Even more satisfying was that was taking the motivation from last year’s accident at Auto Club Speedway and using it to fuel him last night.
“The incentive was, Ed Carpenter said (last year) that ‘Will Power did exactly what everyone expected him to do at the last race last year,’” Power said. “I thought that was just such motivation for me to beat him and win at this track, and just be good at ovals.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to beat Ed.’ Ed, I really respect him. A very good, fast clean oval racer. Always good to race. I don’t dislike him, but I told him, I said, ‘Man your comment last year gave me a lot of motivation.’
“That comment definitely got to me… in a good way.”
It’s been a rough few season finales for the Australian at Team Penske. A crash at Homestead in 2010 cost him his first shot at a title, contact from another car in the pits at Kentucky cost him in 2011, and of course last year’s accident here still sticks fresh.
So for the first time in five years, since Power finished fifth at Chicagoland Speedway in his last race for KV Racing Technology, Power heads into the offseason on a high note.
“I said it to Merrill Cain (Penske PR director), ‘When am I going to finish a season in a good way?’” he opined. “I think 2008 I finished fourth or fifth, Chicagoland, yeah got it.
“2009, broke my back. 2010, hit the wall. 2011, got hit in the pits. Then the Vegas thing. 2012, crashed here. 2013, I won!” he exhaled as he smacked the podium table (one of several times he did so) for extra emphasis.
The icing on the cake, perhaps, was the fact this win came over Carpenter – the Fuzzy’s Vodka driver finished second and just missed out on his third straight season finale victory.
But for Power, the win could not have been any sweeter, after downing some of Carpenter’s sponsor in victory lane. If his momentum carries in 2014, look out.