Grand Prix of Long Beach Turns into Power Show

Will Power talks with reporters after winning the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach IZOD IndyCar Series race. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

Long Beach, CA-It’s hard to imagine veteran driver Will Power not believing in himself as a rising star on the car racing circuit. But shortly after winning the 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach IZOD IndyCar Series race, Power sat at the podium of the post race media conference, humbly sharing with reporters that his general approach to a season, let alone a race, is not visualizing himself as a winner of any race.

“I go into every season thinking that there is no way I can win another race,” Power said. “I don’t know why I feel like that, but I do. I guess it’s my insecurity or something. I don’t believe in myself enough. Yes, that’s always my feelings.”

Power’s competitors probably wish he isn’t so insecure because if he walked around with the comfort of a security blanket it just might dampen his zeal to win an IZOD IndyCar Series title. Coming up victorious on the Long Beach street course may set him on his way.

Power has come close to winning the IZOD IndyCar Series the last two years.  In the last two years, Power has ended his IZOD IndyCar Series as the runner-up in total points to the eventual winner. After locking up the Grand Prix race with a narrow victory, the Australian-born Power could very well wrap up his first championship by the time the season comes to an end.

Power, racing for Team Penske, beat Simon Pagenaud and Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe to the checker flag to secure his first Grand Prix win. It was Power’s second victory in Long Beach. His last win on the streets of Long Beach came in 2008 when he won the Champ Car race. This win, however, was a lot sweeter for Power, who recorded 11 victories and 22 Top 5 finishes in 2010 and 2011 combined.

“This is a very sweet victory because I’ve been on the pole like three times and it frustrated me that almost every year something would happen and I would not win,” Power said. “Since I was starting 12th, I felt it was impossible to win today, but it was a good race, pushed hard all the time, made no mistakes, great strategy and just a great team effort again.”

After placing second to Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe in the qualifying race, Power had to overcome some long odds to win the 85-lap race. He began the race at the 12th position but eventually weaved and powered his way to the front to nip Pagenaud for the Gran Prix crown.

James Hinchcliffe (left) and Simon Pagenaud, finished third and second, respectively in the IZOD IndyCar Series race behind Will Power. Photo: Dennis J. Freeman

Despite finishing second in the qualifying race, Power and other drivers with Chevrolet engines were hit with penalties that pushed them back 10 position spots.

The drivers were penalized because of engines changes made by Chevrolet. Briscoe started the race at the 11th spot. Going into the race, Briscoe figured it would be a difficult go.

“You know, we have to go with it,” Briscoe said after the qualifying race. “You’ve got to trust Chevrolet’s judgment in this position, and you know, the important thing is we know we have got fast cars. It is tough trying to pass, but the first thing is having the fast car and the only fact, the decision is made to make sure that we have reliable engines.”

Flying from the 12th position on the track to a first-place finish gives an indication of the type of power that Power was driving with. Power, who now sit atop the IZOD IndyCar Series, said going into the race, he and his team were confidence enough to believe he still had an outside shot of a Top 5 finish.

“We were thinking Top 5 would be a very good day,” Power said. “You always believe it is possible to win or get on the podium. But it was very unlikely… The fact is it was going to be a two-stop race…It always surprise me because you can never predict. I never assume going into a race. You just have to be smart as it plays out.”

Power’s win is the first for Team Penske since 2001. But Team Penske may not be celebrating today without the alertness and headiness of Power avoiding getting clipped by another car, which would have in all likelihood extended the team’s victory drought another year.

“There was a guy leaving the pit as we were coming in…the guy hit my tire,” Power said. “I was kind of ticked off after that. I would have think you’d get a penalty…I couldn’t believe it. I literally stopped for him as he left the pit. I just knew that would happen. I can go back to Kentucky, where I lost the championship because of that. This time I preempted it, so I stopped, let him go. Then he hit my tires… I lost two championships in pit lanes because of things like that.”

 

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