Will Power with fans at Indianapolis

IZOD IndyCar Series drivers review their 2012 season. Today is Will Power, the championship runner-up who drove the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car:

Looking back on the 2012 season, I can definitely see a lot of positives and a lot to be excited about for the future.

Of course, it was a huge disappointment to not win the championship this year. I thought the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske guys did an incredible job and we were the quickest car on track more times than not. I really wanted to win the championship for them, Roger (Penske) and the entire Penske Racing organization, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

But it’s important not to let what happened in the last race at Fontana cloud what was really a great season both for our team and for the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Our team got off to a great start, one you really dream of as a driver. Two poles and three wins in the first four races – including coming from 12th place to get the victory at Long Beach – was awesome and showed how hard everyone at Team Penske had worked in the off-season to get adapted to the new car and the new Chevrolet engine. 

The strong start was almost a curse, though, as it seemed like a lot of people wanted to crown the championship after our win in Sao Paulo, which was certainly unfair with the caliber of drivers and teams in the field. I remember reminding anyone that mentioned that to not forget that it’s a long season and anything can happen. Little did I know how long the month of June was about to become.

The Indianapolis 500 was sort of a sign of things to come, especially on the oval tracks. We had a great month at Indy with a great car but it wasn’t such a great ending for the Verizon team as our day ended early as a result of contact. Two races later we were running as well as anyone at Texas until a drive-through penalty pushed us back in the field. We could just never get going to the front at Milwaukee and Iowa was a DNF thanks to another incident.

I wish I could tell you what the secret is for us to get stronger and more consistent results on ovals. I’ve tried both conservative and aggressive approaches. What I do know is that we are going to continue to focus on improving in that area in the off-season. Looking back, there were just too many points left on the track in those races.  

I was really proud of how the Verizon team responded after that tough stretch and we got back into form to close the season. The podium finish at Edmonton may have been my best race of the year. That is a challenging track to pass on and to go from 17th to third without the help of a yellow flag took everything I had.

That race really seemed to give us the boost we needed to finish strong and we got into a bit of a rhythm after that. The return to some of my favorite tracks certainly didn’t hurt either. Those couple of near misses on race wins at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma were some of the small breaks we needed for the championship. But I was definitely happy for my teammate, Ryan Briscoe, at Sonoma.  That was a good battle to the end and it was great to see him get the win. It was also great to see Helio (Castroneves) re-establish himself as a championship contender and score two race wins this season after a tough 2011 season. Overall, it was a really strong year for Team Penske and that’s something we should all be proud of.

I thought the racing this year was as competitive as it has ever been. The drivers are really talented and fast from top to bottom – you can end up finishing 20th if you aren’t on your game. Plus INDYCAR made some good changes that I really think helped the racing, starting with adjusting the formula at Texas to avoid it becoming a pack race. That may have been the most fun race to drive this year and hopefully it’s a sign of the approach the series will use moving forward as we consider how to put on the best show for the fans.

I want to say thank you to everyone for their support this year and a big thanks to my team and to Verizon for all that they do for the sport. I hope everyone got a chance to check out the INDYCAR Mobile app this season.

Finally, congratulations to Ryan Hunter-Reay. He is a deserving champion, he had a great year and it was cool to see Chevy win the title their first year back in INDYCAR. You can be sure that we’ll be working hard over the next few months so we’re ready for another run at the championship in 2013.

Season in a nutshell

Average start: 6.0
Average finish: 9.1
Poles: 5 (St. Petersburg, Sao Paulo, Mid-Ohio, Sonoma, Baltimore)
Victories: 3 (Barber, Long Beach, Sao Paulo in a row)
Top-10 finishes: 10
Laps led: 294 (over 10 races)
Standings: 2

Of note

Finished runner-up in the championship standings for the third consecutive season. ... Won his second consecutive race at Barber Motorsports Park after failing to qualify in the top 6 for the first time since 2010. ...  Won for the third consecutive year at Sao Paulo, Brazil. ... Won the Mario Andretti Road Championship for the third consecutive year. ... Enters the 2013 season tied with Dario Franchitti for eighth on the all-time Indy car poles list with 29.