In what has been a wild IZOD IndyCar Series season filled with disparity and surprises, perhaps the biggest shocker has been Will Power’s goose egg.
This is a driver who has finished runner-up in the championship standings in each of the last three seasons. This was supposed to be the year he got over the hump, giving Roger Penske his first series title since 2006.
While The Captain does currently have a driver leading the points standings with just six races remaining, it’s not the one you might expect. Helio Castroneves has had a great year.
But Power has not been himself in a long time. He’s currently 10th in the overall standings, just 1 point ahead of Charlie Kimball.
So far this season, Power has won two poles (at St. Petersburg and Texas) but hasn’t had the finishes we have all come to expect. His winless streak has now reached 23 races as he heads into the August 4 race at Mid-Ohio — his last win was April 29, 2012, and he has just one podium finish (Milwaukee) since that race win in Sao Paulo.
In 2011, Power dominated nearly every weekend. He won a total of six races that year and grabbed an impressive eight poles during the season. There were seven races in 2011 where he led the most laps of the race. His 2012 season was strong, too: he won three races and five poles en route to another runner-up finish in the championship.
There is another eye-opening statistic about Power’s 2013 campaign. Through 13 races this season, he has finished worse than 15th place eight times. That is unheard of given his success over the past few years. He’s currently 5th on the all-time wins list among active drivers, but the big question everyone is asking is: when will the next one come?
Looking at the last five tracks this season, Power has a good shot at breaking his winless streak. He won pole at Mid-Ohio in 2010. Over the last two years at Sonoma, he’s won the pole and the race. In 2011, he won both the pole and the race at Baltimore. And this time last year, Power won three straight poles at these tracks (Mid-Ohio, Sonoma, Baltimore). He also led the most laps in each of those races.
Will has raced on the streets of Houston, although it was a different track layout when Champ Car ran there. Still, he finished 7th in 2006 and started on pole in 2007.
The memories at Fontana are not good, but he has shown he can be strong on the ovals this year. It might be his last chance to break the winless streak before 2014, so desperation may play a factor in that one.
What we do know is that when Power finally does return to victory lane, no one will be happier than him. Unfortunately, time is running out.
About a month ago, Power told Autoweek magazine that the expectations and pressure of winning the championship are gone, and he is free to just race. It makes sense, but it sounds strange because this is a guy that has never even won a title.
Still, if he fails to win one of these final six races, the baggage that Power will carry into next season is going to be incredibly heavy.