LEXINGTON, Ohio—Instead of completing his fourth pass for position, Will Power suddenly found himself spinning on the grass inside of turn 9 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Sunday’s (July 3rd) Honda Indy 200.
In the first green flag lap of racing after a waved-off start, Power was ahead of Christian Lundgaard and lunged to get inside of Takuma Sato at the apex of turn 9. Instead, Power’s car spun after contact with Sato.
Pato O'Ward gets things going, and Will Power SPINS!
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) July 3, 2022
The No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet was in last place in the 27-car field, almost four seconds behind Jimmie Johnson. Nearly an hour and 45 minutes later, the Australian racer crossed the finish line in third place behind race winner Scott McLaughlin and second place finisher Alex Palou.
Power started 21st in the 80-lap race around the 13-turn, 2.258 mile road course after being penalized for impeding Helio Castroneves in the first round of qualifying. While the rest of the field qualified, an exasperated Power said that a driver can’t start that far back that many times and get lucky with a good result.
The 2014 IndyCar Series champion moved to 24th place by the time the race’s first full course yellow came out on the race’s ninth lap after Felix Rosenqvist’s car stopped with smoke billowing out of the rear of the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
The Penske crew turned that full course yellow into an opportunity as they brought Power to pit road for his first pit stop. Now without any worries of trying to save fuel with a two-stop strategy, the 2020 Mid-Ohio race one winner could drive flat-out to the finish.
Power was in 25th place on the lap 12 restart and worked his way to 18th place by the time the rest of the field started to make green flag pit stops on lap 23. Power was running in sixth place when he made his next pit stop on lap 30. Shortly after entering the pits, INDYCAR race control called a full course yellow after Kyle Kirkwood went through the gravel trap between turns 8 and 9 and hit the tire barrier.
Kirkwood’s car had been trackside for over a full minute before the full course yellow call came.
With the rest of the field traveling at reduced speed under the full course yellow, Power was able to cycle out of the pits in 12th place that he would have lost had Kirkwood not had his issue.
After another full course yellow, Power used the restart to get 11th place from David Malukas and then 10th place from former teammate Simon Pagenaud on successive laps. The 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner was up to eighth place by the time the field started the final pit stop sequence and was actually exiting pit road on lap 54 when race control called a full course yellow for Tatiana Calderon’s stalled car.
On the next restart, Power passed Rinus VeeKay for fourth place, which became third place after race leader Colton Herta pitted two laps later under the race’s fifth full course yellow.
Try as he might, Power could not get around the 2021 IndyCar Series champion for second place and had to settle for his fourth podium and seventh top-five finish out of nine IndyCar races.
Power had perhaps the fastest car all weekend, but never had a chance to show it after his qualifying penalty. That was left for the race, and by finishing on the podium, Power reduces Marcus Ericsson’s points lead over him down to 20 points.
“It really hurts to give up a chance at a pole or potentially a win, but to get back to third, you’re not looking back on those days saying that’s why we lost a championship, definitely,” Power said.
“I think the lesson is that even if you don’t pass any cars today, you’re still making positions. If you don’t make any mistakes, just to start with, and then you have a fast car on top of that and you make smart moves, you’re going to make positions.”
Power made 18 on-track passes for position, which was 12 percent of all passes for position at Mid-Ohio. Those passes made the race fun for Power as well as the rest of the crowd around Mid-Ohio.
“You certainly find it fun after the race, but you’re so focused during the race, you just — I mean, that’s the enjoyment of a skill is executing it the best you possibly can,” Power said. “Yes, I enjoy it a lot. I enjoy qualifying, putting it all together a whole race weekend. But yeah, when you have a day like that, makes you want to keep going for a long time.”
The next IndyCar race is the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday July 17th at 3:00 p.m. ET and will air live exclusively on Peacock.