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For Will Power, IndyCar’s off-season provides time for reflection

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Though IndyCar’s lengthy off-season may feel like an eternity to some fans, for drivers the time away from the track presents an opportunity to reflect on another year gone by and to catch up on tasks that would have been difficult to complete during the thick of the racing calendar.

For Team Penske’s Will Power, his off-season is much busier than many fans may realize. Even though drivers like himself may be out of the public eye over the next few months, that does not necessarily mean they aren’t at work, and more often than not, their agenda changes from day to day.

“There’s plenty of different stuff that you do,” Power told NBC Sports. “It’s not a set routine until you get fully into training [later in the off-season] and get up every day to go to the gym.

“You could be doing some PR stuff, obviously we have a test at Indy [an IndyCar aeroscreen test at IMS in October]. I have a wedding to go to, then I’ll go to Australia for three weeks to do some stuff down there and obviously see the family.

“Then I’ll come back. I think I’m going to do a go kart race in Vegas in November, and I have a 21st birthday party for a young kid, so there’s various things. On top of that, you start preparing for the next season as you get into December.”

Still, even though drivers like Power keep busy during the off-season, they still do have some opportunities to just rest and reflect on the previous season, and Power says that whether or not these reflection sessions are positive or negative can all depend on a driver’s performance over the course of the previous season. 

“If you have a bad season you definitely reflect on why and what could have been better,” Power said. “That even starts before the end of the season, reflecting on why we struggled.”

There will likely be plenty for Power to reflect on this off-season. Though it appeared that he would be a title contender early on in the season when he scored two poles in the first two races, the first three quarters of 2019 season turned out to be very disappointing for the Aussie.

In IndyCar’s inaugural visit to the Circuit of the Americas in March, Power appeared to be on-track to his first victory of 2019, as he led the race’s first 45 laps from the pole.

However, a mechanical issue would end Power’s afternoon, and he finished the race dead last. Over the next 11 races, Power would finish on the podium only twice.

“It was such a pity that not winning that COTA race really started a trend of just bad results,” Power said. “That should of been a win for us, and obviously the gearbox blew up and it went yellow, so we were done no matter what happened there.”

However, the tides began to turn for Power as the season began to close. He scored his first victory of the year in the rain-shortened 500-miler at Pocono Raceway, and then followed up with a second victory two weeks later at Portland – the 37th of his career.

Power would the end 2019 season with a second-place finish in the season finale at Laguna Seca and with a respectable fifth-place finish in the overall point standings. Not bad at all for a driver who almost looked as if he was going to go winless for the first time since 2006

“I was just happy to get a couple of wins,” Power said. “I was thinking ‘man, I don’t want to go winless this season,’ so I was really happy to get those two wins.

“Obviously we had a very bad start to the year, and man this was just a nice way to go out.”

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Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

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Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500