SONOMA, Calif. – Will Power had a race car he thinks could have won the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday if he’d qualified better. His unlikely bid to catch Scott Dixon and win a second Verizon IndyCar Series title fell well short.
Not a bad day or season, though, he said, in the big picture, because the big picture was again grand for Team Penske. Power swept the May races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – giving owner Roger Penske his 200th Indy car win at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course and an ever-growing record of 17 Indianapolis 500 triumphs on the oval. Brad Keselowski won NASCAR’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard – Penske’s first at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – on Sept. 10 and followed it on Sunday by nabbing the organization’s 500th overall victory.
Not bad, but like any driver, Power yearned for more at Sonoma Raceway.
“We had a really, really fast car,” the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet said after finishing third behind Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dixon. “I think if we would have started farther up front, we would have had a chance to win.
“It was a good year, though. Roger (Penske) got his 500th win today. We won the Indy 500. We won the 200th Indy car race for Team Penske. We won the Brickyard 400. Just couldn't get the championship here. But overall, it was a good year for Team Penske."
Power was monitoring the progress of Penske NASCAR drivers Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney before the race on Sunday in case he would get the opportunity to secure win No. 500.
“I was sitting there in the cockpit asking where they are and they’re like, ‘They’re 1-2-3 (at one point),” Power said. “That’s awesome. That great, great for Roger.”
Power’s main lament from the season was DNFs at Phoenix, Barber, Texas and Road America, which resulted in points-robbing finishes of 22nd, 21st, 18th and 23rd. He wound up third in the standings, 96 points behind Dixon.
“It’s amazing how many points we lost in those races,” he said.
Josef Newgarden, who like teammate Power entered the race 87 points behind, a weighty sum even with double points awarded at Sonoma, finished eighth after stalling the car during a pit stop, putting a final tinge on a weekend in which he suffered with a bout of food poisoning.
“It was not a great day,” Newgarden said. “It really all started with the first pit stop. We just had a mistake in trying to get out and I stalled it. It kind of ruined the whole day from that point there on. It was tough to recover after that. I think we had a lot of potential today and we could have contended for the win, but it was too hard to come back.”
Like Power, Newgarden finished the season with three wins. But he was unable to defend the series championship he won in 2017 and finished fifth in points -- meaning he will surrender the No. 1 on his car for the 2019 IndyCar Series season.
“It was a great season and a lot of great moments for the whole team and myself,” Newgarden said. “We just have to work to be a little stronger next year and go for the championship and the Indy 500."