Starting on the pole and having led all the practices, Will Power knew his shot at a victory was high. However, he didn’t allow himself to go into the race over confident.
“Doesn’t matter where you start, anything can happen,” he said. “If you just hang in there, you can have a good day.”
He showed his dominance throughout the day, leading 75 of the laps. However, in the end, he came up one spot short, losing out to his Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.
“It’s a little bit disappointing to have led so many laps and been so quick, to end up second,” he commented. “At the end of the day it came down to tire choice. It was my choice to put the reds on. Juan (Pablo Montoya) put the blacks on. He could hang with me for that second to the last stint. I allowed him to jump me in the pits.”
On camera, it looked as though Power’s last pit stop was slower, which was something he recognized that they’d need to review post-race. He added that his tires were shot at the end of the stint, so his in-lap probably wasn’t that strong, either.
“I think we lost a second on pit lane to Juan, however that was. It could be a number of things,” he commented. “We just go back and analyze that stuff. It’s kind of the first race, a couple of new guys. Pits may have had nothing to do with that. Could have been the way I came in the box. That’s racing. Can’t get it perfect all the time. That’s what makes it fun.”
Montoya didn’t have it easy, though, as Power did make a move to try and get by him with five laps to go. Through a tight corner on the course, Power made the dive under, with the pair making minimal contact. Both drivers kept it straight and were able to continue.
“It was a good battle,” Power shared. “We pushed each other hard, man. You know, I saw the gap, there was one chance, and I went for it. We rubbed a little. But, yeah, got to put a bit of a show on for the fans, right?”
The contact resulted in a loss of a “rabbit ear” on Power’s No. 1 Verizon Dallara-Chevrolet, in which he says made a difference as he lost the front end a little.
“They’re not on there for no reason,” he added. “They spend millions of bucks and have wind tunnels to have nice little rabbit ears. It’s better if you don’t knock ’em off. “
Power wasn’t the only driver to lose a piece of his nose in the first race for the aerokits, as there were three cautions throughout the event due to debris. There are concerns for some moving forward, and that’s something that the drivers recognize as well.
“I think you can probably rub. But, yeah, you probably have less contact than with the other car,” he commented. “You definitely go for gaps you wouldn’t go for with this car since we’ve had the old car. If I’d gone for a gap, I probably wouldn’t have gone for it in the old car, but I went for it with Montoya. If I miss a bit, we just rub off and it doesn’t put him in the wall, yeah.
“So they added all these bits to fall off, though. Amazing the amount of stuff that fell off. Rabbit ears laying all around the track. It was just everywhere, right? Chevy boys getting into it. Every once in a while you’d see a piece of a Honda.”
Despite the damage, though, Power was breaking into Montoya’s lead to try to make the pass once again, however he got caught behind the lap car of Sage Karam.
“He probably didn’t realize I was behind him there,” Power summarized. “He moved out the way as quick as he could, gave Juan a pretty good old gap there. Yeah, that’s tough, you know. That happens in racing. If you’re the leader, you love it. If you’re second, well, you lost an opportunity. But, yeah, all that stuff comes and goes for you, works itself out by the end of the year.”