Tapping into nerves helped Power clinch second IndyCar title

Will Power was left “mentally drained” after securing his second IndyCar title with third place at the Laguna Seca finale, but that pre-event nerves helped him perform.

The Australian led the first stint of the race on the Firestone alternate tyres, but found his car’s handling was wayward on his first set of primaries, and the wing adjustment he called for at his next stop actually exaggerated the problem.

Finally onto fresh primaries in the final stint, he was able to keep pace with Penske teammate Josef Newgarden who had charged from the back, but the pair of them were beaten into second and third by half a minute by Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Power admitted that even though he came into the season finale with a 20-point lead, his nerves prevented him truly relaxing or even deriving true satisfaction from beating Mario Andretti’s all-time IndyCar pole record.

“I couldn't really enjoy the pole yesterday because I was so focused on the race,” said Power who also won the 2014 title. “A lot of stress this weekend. I was pretty calm all year.

“Once I got in the car and we started rolling, it was fine. It was a bit sketchy in the middle of the race, I was digging deep, just, ‘I've got to give everything I can. I can't lose any positions here.'

“But yep, mentally drained. I couldn't show the sort of emotion that I showed when I won the 500 [2018]. But it's been like a long journey over the year.

"I think it's pretty fitting that we just did another solid day, just a sort of long-game day like today. That's just been the story of our year.”

Asked further about the nerves, Power said: “Yeah, it was waking up at 3am a couple times over the weekend, and you can always relax yourself back to sleep, but it's obviously a big day. Everyone has put a ton of effort in.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

“And you don't want to let it go. Those nerves make you perform at a high level. I had those nerves going into qualifying. It just pumps you up to another level. That's what it does for me.

“A couple of times in my career I've actually got in the car too relaxed, and it just doesn't work. I've been around long enough to understand the perfect amount of sort of nervousness you've got to have.

"You've got to have it. Your subconscious needs to understand the importance of what you're doing and then you can put yourself at another level.”

Power admitted his single-minded focus on the championship meant he forced himself to rein in his natural tendency to go for victories.

“Nine podiums, that's pretty strong,” he said, “but I definitely gave up some wins just for consistency. Definitely could have attacked harder when I was on really good tyres.

“St. Pete was one, on the restart. I actually just underdrove like you wouldn't believe to make sure that I finished that stint in a good position. I could have easily attacked and passed McLaughlin. Instead I actually lost a position on reds [to Alex Palou].

“Another one was Mid-Ohio – restart on reds. Same with the second race at Iowa. Make sure the tyres last, make sure I finish second. There's definitely some wins left on the table if you were going for that.

“But I said it from the beginning of the year. I said I'm playing the long game all year. I've never done that, and I'm doing it this year.

"I don't really care about the wins; I just want to win another championship. And I played that game. Maybe I go out next year and try to win more races."

shares
comments
IndyCar Laguna Seca: Palou wins race, Power is champion
Previous article

IndyCar Laguna Seca: Palou wins race, Power is champion

Next article

Palou "on rails" at Laguna Seca, Ganassi-McLaren IndyCar dispute "moving in right direction"

Palou "on rails" at Laguna Seca, Ganassi-McLaren IndyCar dispute "moving in right direction"
How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled Plus

How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled

Chip Ganassi Racing team was strong again in the Indianapolis 500, with poleman Scott Dixon and reigning champion Alex Palou leading almost three quarters of the race between them. But when dominator Dixon was penalised for pitlane speeding, ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson stepped up to score the biggest win of his career and seize the IndyCar points lead

IndyCar
May 30, 2022
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 21, 2021
How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential Plus

How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential

Romain Grosjean's swashbuckling rookie year in IndyCar captured the imagination of many in 2021. But another ex-Formula 1 driver whose potential was masked by five years of toil in, at best, middling machinery also enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 - winning twice and finishing sixth in points. Here's how Marcus Ericsson finally delivered on his promise

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best Plus

How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best

IndyCar sophomore Alex Palou stunned by overcoming team-mate Scott Dixon and the rest of a white-hot field in 2021. He was consistently fast and crucially showed a level head, rebounding well from setbacks to put himself in a near unassailable position entering the final round

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021