MOORESVILLE, North Carolina – Will Power doesn’t need pep talks from Roger Penske about how much winning the Indianapolis 500 means to Team Penske.
Words would fail anyway in conveying the passion that Power has seen from his normally reserved car owner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“He just loves that race,” Power said during a recent tour of team headquarters. “He’s not like that with any other race.
“His reaction when he’s on the pit stand. You can see the emotions when one of his cars passes for the lead. He was brought there as a little kid for his first introduction to racing.”
While Penske has missed only a handful of Indy 500s since attending his first as a 14-year-old in 1951, Power’s history at the Brickyard is much shorter. The Australian will be making his ninth start in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and he has been showing promise of a breakthrough.
Last year, he finished second to teammate Juan Pablo Montoya and led a career-best 23 laps – the third straight Indy 500 he’d been in first. Power, 35, also has made eight consecutive starts in the top 10 at Indy, including sixth for this Sunday’s race.
It’s no wonder that in this momentous year – the 50th season for Team Penske and the 100th running of the Indy 500 – Power has allowed himself to dream about drinking milk.
“This one for Roger … ” Power said, pausing as if he briefly were overcome with giddiness. “God, I hope I’m the one (to win). It would be huge for him, absolutely.”
But it also would be significant for the 2014 IndyCar champion, who has come to appreciate the race’s magnitude.
“I’ve won the championship, a lot of races, (and) this is the box you tick,” he said. “You feel really happy if you win it. It’d be something you’d never forget, honestly.”
Which is why his team owner, who already has a record 16 Indy 500 wins, lets the scene speak for itself rather than deliver stirring speeches about what another victory there would mean.
“It’s not necessary,” Power said. “The amount of work and effort put in, everyone understands.
“Believe me, if you win it, you’ve got a job for life.”