IndyCar 2017 driver review: Will Power

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. Fifth-placed Will Power had an up-and-down year with three wins, his usual outstanding pace, but too much inconsistency to add a second title to his 2014 crown.

Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2016: 2nd Place, 4 Wins, 2 Poles, 7 Podiums, 8 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 139 Laps Led, 5.7 Avg. Start, 7.9 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 5th Place, 3 Wins, 6 Poles, 7 Podiums, 9 Top-5, 10 Top-10, 443 Laps Led, 4.4 Avg. Start, 9.2 Avg. Finish

Will Power went through a rather weird, boom-or-bust type 2017 season that featured a lot of the blended elements of Power’s career.

It can now be said Power has matured into one of the series’ best drivers on ovals; he dominated Texas from the front and then rallied at Pocono from a lap down thanks to a fortuitous set of circumstances. He remained an outright speed demon with six poles – three more than anyone else – as IndyCar’s pure fastest driver. He led the most laps in the field with 443, one more than Helio Castroneves. And he also had enough poor results to doom his title campaign, with five finishes of 18th or worse. Combined, the top four drivers in points had only four (Josef Newgarden two, Scott Dixon one, Castroneves one, Simon Pagenaud zero).

The poor results counterbalanced his good ones, as besides the wins, Power was a regular podium or top-five finisher in the races he did make it home with no issues. That just happened too infrequently throughout the course of his campaign, and finishing 19th, 13th and 14th out of the gate with mechanical gremlins at St. Petersburg, contact from Charlie Kimball in Long Beach and a gut-wrenching puncture in Barber left him 14th in the standings, 67 points behind then-leader Sebastien Bourdais, after just three races. The Barber loss was the most galling as it cost a sure win. Power ended the year 70 points behind eventual champion Josef Newgarden, and there was no heroic comeback to close the gap down as there was last year.

Alas, even more laid back than normal, Power was particularly calm throughout the year; he never seemed to get too high or low depending on the weekend. He was typically frustrated with himself when things didn’t go right, but more relieved or chilled than exuberant on the days when they did. Pocono saw him almost in shock when he won, as he may have wondered how exactly he and the No. 12 team pulled it off.

It took a bit of time for Power to mesh with new strategist Jon “Myron” Bouslog, who’d replaced Tim Cindric this year on the box. The two did mesh though as the year progressed, Bouslog having been the architect of the winning Pocono strategy, to ensure Power remained a force at this level. Weirdly though, he never was higher than fourth in points at any stage this season, and he hasn’t led the championship at any point since winning his first and thus far only title in 2014.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.