Will Power believes this generation of IndyCar drivers are ‘most competitive ever’

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PORTLAND, Oregon – With each victory in the NTT IndyCar Series, Will Power keeps climbing the ranks of the winningest drivers of all-time in the history of IndyCar racing.

His victory in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland was his 37thcareer win, tying him with four-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais, who continues to race for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan.

Two more victories will move the Team Penske driver into a fifth-place tie with the great four-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Al Unser. Five more wins would tie him with Michael Andretti at 42 victories.

The top three winningest drivers ever are AJ Foyt with 67, Mario Andretti with 52 and Power’s contemporary, Scott Dixon, with 46.

Foyt, Andretti and Unser were all part of what many believe to be IndyCar’s “Greatest Generation” of drivers. That was the period that covered the 1960s and lasted through the early part of the 1990s.

Power is closing in on the top-five in career wins and that would put two drivers from today’s era into the elite category of greatest drivers in IndyCar history.

INDYCAR Photo by Stephen King“You’ve got to look at this generation as one of those generations when you had AJ, Mario and the Unsers,” Power responded to a question from NBC Sports.com. “With Dixon and I’m sure Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden, these guys are going to be around for a long time.

“That’s going to be an era that kids look up to, like ‘Wow, that was a great era of competitive IndyCar racing, probably the most competitive era ever.’

“I’ve been thinking that. You look at the field, the series, the teams now, it’s just so cool to be a part of it right now, and it’s growing, and the continuity of drivers, new teams coming in, it’s fantastic.”

When Power arrived in the United States at the end of the 2005 season, his first test for Walker Racing came at Portland International Raceway – the same road course he conquered on Sunday.

He ran the full season in 2006 and was pretty much known as the “Driver from Australia with the Funny Name.”

Think about it – “Will Power?”

In 2007, he won two Champ Car Series races and finished fourth in the championship. Champ Car folded before the 2008 season and many of its teams joined the old Indy Racing League to create today’s INDYCAR. Walker Racing was unable to make the jump, but Power found a ride at KV Racing Technology. He drove to victory at Long Beach that year.

Rival team owner Roger Penske liked what he saw from the driver from Toowoomba, Australia and with Helio Castroneves’ availability uncertain in 2009 because of a tax evasion trial, Power was offered a fill-in ride with Team Penske. Castroneves was acquitted of all charges, but Penske kept Power on the team in a limited role. He won the race at Edmonton later that year.

He had a full-time ride at Team Penske in 2010 and won five races that season.

Power and Penske were on their way with one of the greatest combinations of driver and team during this decade.

And now, a strong case can be made that Power belongs on the list of greatest drivers of all-time along, joining Dixon from the current generation of racers.

In Power’s case, however, he could have achieved more by now.

“I get very disappointed in my career because of some of the things I’ve let go,” Power said after winning for the second time in the last three races. “I feel like I should have been champion more times (he won the championship in 2014). But it’s something that you look at. After you win the Indianapolis 500, you’re very satisfied with your career and that paves the way, and then the next year you’re like, ‘Man, I need to start winning races, again.’ It’s disappointing.

“Sometimes you can forget that you’ve had a great career.

“But it’s a tough series. It’s tough to win races, so any win you get, you’re just over the moon. But any win I get at the moment and any pole I get, the pole is getting me closer to Mario’s all-time record, and any win I get moves me up the all-time list, and I think you’d be lying if you don’t look at that stuff at times.

“You don’t think about it when you’re driving, but I know Dixon would most definitely look at that stuff, too. He might say he doesn’t.”

To this day, Power has a hard time even imagining himself in the same category as the “Legends of Racing.”

“Because you’re up amongst drivers that you idolized as a child, as a kid, so it’s just kind of surreal that you can put yourself up amongst names like Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, Michael Andretti, the Unsers, these names that for me, people that always seemed above me because it’s somebody you idolized as a kid,” Power admitted. “It doesn’t seem right to have your name amongst them, when you really idolized someone, even if you’ve reached the same level as them in your career.

“It still feels like they’re above you, untouchable.”

 

Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”