Will Power Liz Power Beau Power

Sometimes the images on the screen don’t tell the full story.

That was the case for Will and Liz Power, who were shown Sunday in an emotional celebration following the driver’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory in more than two years.

Obviously, a win in this competitive series is always a joyous occasion, but this one at Road America was more than that. This was about a family and the health issues that twice nearly cost Liz her life, the latter occurring almost exactly a year ago.

Last June, the Powers were set to travel from their North Carolina home to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for the eighth race of the season. Liz, who had dealt with a life-threatening infection in her spinal column five months earlier, began hallucinating in the car as they headed to the airport. It was a panic moment that left Will unsure what to do. Should he stay or should he go?

“(We) get in the car, she looks down and says, ‘Look at all the worms in that cup,’” Will said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, sh*t.’”

Reluctantly, Will agreed to let Liz’s mother, Kathy, take care of her during that race weekend, but his thoughts were consumed by medical matters. Fortunately, doctors discovered Liz had mixed medications, which alleviated some stress, but his weekend from a work standpoint was no less than a disaster.

In practice on Saturday, Power’s race car slammed into that of Scott Dixon, who was off the pace and trying to get out of the way as Romain Grosjean and then Power approached in a fast section of the road course. The impact with Dixon’s car shot Power to the left, and he slammed into a concrete barrier, Power got out of his car hopping mad, shaking his hands at Dixon before shoving him as they came together. Power then kicked at the ground as he stormed off.

The race weekend never got better for the reigning series champion. He got mad at Grosjean for another incident and then lashed out at the track itself, using words to describe a portion of the circuit that led Road America president Mike Kertscher to humorously park a sanitation truck in front of Power’s motor home. Full of tension, Power moved the truck to near Dixon’s bus.

Power and his Team Penske crew never fully recovered. He started the race from the 22nd position and finished 13th. At least Liz was in a better way by that point.

Power conceded he nearly aborted the weekend.

“Stressful, yeah, this predicament,” he said. “Should I race or not? Then, you crash bad (in practice). That’s why I was so, I guess, angry or just stressed. Anything set me off. (I was) grappling with that.”

The other consideration was their son, Beau, who was 6 at the time. Like any good father, the situation left Power to understand the scope of his parental responsibilities.

“You start thinking, ‘Should I be racing at all?’” he said. “If something happens to Liz and something happens to me (in racing), is she going to get better? What’s going to happen (if she doesn’t)? The doctor said this can come back at any time. Should I be racing? That was the thing that was planted in my mind last year.”

For the first time in 17 seasons, Power went winless, which ended the second-longest streak in series history (Dixon now has 20). Power entered last weekend’s XPEL Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR with a streak of 34 consecutive races without reaching victory lane, easily the longest stretch of his INDYCAR SERIES career.

“You certainly don’t perform at your highest level because you don’t want your son to have no parents,” he said. “That is sort of the thing you’re thinking.

“Yeah, tough wrestling with that. Ultimately, yeah, if she wasn’t getting better, I would stop (racing). I would have to stop for my son. Simple as that.”

But there they were Sunday, together in victory – celebrating, crying, tears of joy. So much to be thankful for.

“I was very special,” he said. “She was in tears. So was her mother. Had Beau there.

“Yeah, (it’s) been a rough trot. (but) we’re back as a team together.”