Today’s question: What was the decisive moment of Will Power’s 2022 championship-winning season?
Curt Cavin: Not surprisingly, there are several moments that come to mind, and I think Paul Kelly will hit on a very important one below, so I’ll save that for him. Will credited the double poles he earned at Iowa Speedway for giving him the confidence that he could catch Mario Andretti for the pole record, and I’m sure that served as momentum boost for the championship drive, as well as he finished both races in the top three. Another big moment was winning the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix after starting 16th – no other driver came from as far back to win a race this season – and it assured him of winning a race for the 16th consecutive season. We’ve talked a lot about Will’s consistency in 2022, and it’s worth noting that he finished on the podium in five of the final seven races, all with the pressure of a title at stake. But one race early in the season that is likely overlooked by many was the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, where Will qualified 19th at Barber Motorsports Park. He didn’t seem to have pace all weekend but somehow finished fourth. That was huge. Those are the days where title runs are born.
Arni Sribhen: For me, the key moment of Will Power’s 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship was before the year even started, when he decided to play “the long game” and race for his second championship not chase wins. Power had a history of going for early-season glory and then letting a run of bad races affect his confidence for the rest of the year. By the time, he regained his swagger, the championship was all but over for the driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. For 2022, he was more relaxed, and his early-season results matched his newfound peace of mind. Five straight top-fives to start the season, but no finish better than third. It allowed him to take the point lead after his win at Belle Isle. Even a summer slump that affected his qualifying and race results would not deter Power this season. And he’d finish the year much like he started it, with five top-fives in the final seven races to claim the title. By playing the long game, Will Power was more Scott Dixon-like, and he got a Dixon-like title as the reward.
Paul Kelly: It took me about four seconds to choose an answer to this question, as my mind raced back to the shock of the opening lap of The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Fourth of July weekend. Power entered the race second in the standings, 27 points behind leader Marcus Ericsson and feeling the heat from teammate Josef Newgarden, who was just five points behind him after winning the previous race, at Road America. Power started a dismal 21st after receiving a penalty in the first round of qualifying, dialing up the pressure. And it’s safe to say that nearly every NTT INDYCAR SERIES fan on the mounds at Mid-Ohio and watching on NBC got a “here we go again” feeling when he spun in Turn 9 on Lap 1 while trying to hustle toward the front of the field. In past years, this could have triggered a Power mental freakout that all but ended his title chances with a bad finish. Instead, Power didn’t panic, steered his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet back on the racetrack in last place and then resolutely drove through the field to finish third. It was the classic example this year of the new “Chill Will,” and I think it was his finest drive in a season filled with them.