ST. PETERSBURG – This isn’t the first time this has happened.
In each of 2011, 2012 and 2013, Will Power scored the pole for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and on each occasion, he came up shy of the win.
The first two years, he came second to Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves respectively. JR Hildebrand’s aerial attack under a caution period resigned Power to a lapped 16th place finish in 2013.
This year Power was second again, and second to a third different driver in Juan Pablo Montoya.
Power led 75 of the 110 laps in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series curtain-raiser, but none of the last 28 after emerging behind Montoya on the final pit stop sequence.
Power said in his post-race TV interview that his one move on Montoya, attempting to pass on the inside going into Turn 10 on Lap 99, was optimistic but possible.
“Yeah that was a place I could kinda get a run on him,” Power said. “It was the only chance I had. I think he saw me. It was kind of optimistic but it was possible. He didn’t give me anything. It was kind of my only chance.”
The defending series champion elaborated on it during the post-race press conference, although was in very good spirits despite the result.
“You know how these races go,” Power admitted. “That’s the thing I enjoy about IndyCar racing. It doesn’t matter where you were at. If you just hang in there, you can have a good day.
“Yes, it’s a little bit disappointing to lead so many laps and end up second. But it came down to tire choice. I put on the (Firestone) reds and he put on the blacks. It allowed him to jump me in the pits. If there’s a gap, one chance, I went for it. We rubbed a little. But I gotta put a bit of a show on for the fans.”
Power admitted his gamble, to go for the gap on corner entry into Turn 10, was actually aided by the new aero kits rather than hindered by it.
“You can go for gaps with this car that you wouldn’t with the old car,” Power explained. “I wouldn’t have gone for it with the old car. If I missed a bit, we’d both go off and into the wall.”
The other element Power addressed post-race was a brief traffic hangup between he and rookie Sage Karam in the race’s final 10 laps. Power said Karam, in his second start in the series and first with Chip Ganassi Racing, did everything he could to get out of the way as quick as possible.
“It was a hard situation. Sage tried to get out of the way. He moved out the way as quick as he could,” Power said. “Yeah, that’s tough. It happens in racing. If you’re leading, you love it. All that stuff comes and goes and works itself out.”