IndyCar practice on new TMS surface
Helio Castroneves is the most accomplished open-wheel racer in Texas Motor Speedway history with a track-record four wins and 11 top-5s in 19 career races.
Graham Rahal owns the most thrilling victory, edging out James Hinchcliffe by 0.008 of a second a year ago. And Arie Luyendyk has the most controversial win — just ask A.J. Foyt about the inaugural race in 1997.
But Will Power is a guy who puts himself in position to win more than anyone else. Power has won three poles and has an average starting position of 3.55, more than three spots better than Castroneves (6.62) among drivers with a minimum of eight starts.
Power understands the importance of continuing that trend at Saturday’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600. TMS has a new racing surface, and track position will be at a premium when the green flag drops at 7:30 p.m. Qualifying is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
“It’s obviously a combination of team, engine and driver to get it right in qualifying,” said Power, who won the second twin race in 2011 at Texas. “It is important to start up front, especially this year. It’d be really good to start right at the front because there won’t be any tire degradation [with the new surface], so I think passing will be tough.”
Power, driver of the No. 12 Chevrolet for Team Penske, has had a self-described “roller coaster” season. He was the pole sitter in two of the first three races, but didn’t finish in the top-10.
He then had a runner-up finish at Phoenix followed by a win from the pole position in the Indianapolis G.P. last month. His dreams of riding that momentum to a coveted Indianapolis 500 victory, though, vanished when his day ended with 17 laps to go in a five-car accident.
Power then had an up-and-down weekend at Detroit last week, finishing 18th on Saturday and third on Sunday.
“Seasons just go like that,” Power said. “You’ve got to keep pushing away.”
The biggest disappointment, of course, is his Indy 500 showing. Power has 28 wins and a championship to his name in IndyCar, but has yet to win the series’ most prestigious race.
As far as what else he’d like to accomplish in his career, Power said: “Obviously the Indy 500 is at the very top of the list.”
But the Indy 500 is much like NASCAR’s Daytona 500 — it’s a race that doesn’t necessarily go to the most accomplished driver in the field.
This year’s winner, Takuma Sato, had won only once before in the series. Last year’s race happened to be won by rookie Alexander Rossi, who had only five IndyCar starts under his belt.
But that’s not to say Sato and Rossi don’t understand the magnitude of their accomplishment.
“Going into the off-season it started to come full circle,” Rossi said. “The huge moment for me was going back to the speedway and just having a much greater appreciation for the race. When you’ve won it once, the desire to win it again goes through the roof.”
Power will have to wait another year before he gets his next opportunity, but he is not dwelling on what could have been.
Instead, he is looking forward to returning to Texas. He has plenty of support here – his wife Liz is from Plano — and has a history of being in contention.
“It was really cool the year I did win there,” Power said. “It is honestly a track that I would love to get another win at. I really would … just have a lot of my wife’s family there.”
Rainguard Water Sealers 600
7:30 p.m. Saturday, NBCSN