Will Power triggers Lap 1 IndyCar crash at Toronto, hits 'rock bottom'07/15/2019
Will Power believes he has hit rock bottom.
Already in the midst of a 13-race winless streak, the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion is finding more unusual ways to give up races these days.
And most frustrating to the 38-year-old is that it’s no longer mistakes on pit road or set-up misses that is getting in the way of the No. 12 team, but also mistakes by the driver himself that has made the 2019 season so miserable.
The latest mishap started on Saturday on the Streets of Toronto when he qualified 15th. Then came lap one and Turn 8, when he ill-advisably took Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti three-wide, washing all three of them out in an incident that also collected Matheus Leist and Marcus Ericsson.
Power was able to continue largely undamaged and had worked his way up to 10th on the last lap when he crashed again, this time by himself in Turn 8, ending the race.
Power has had statistically worse seasons over the years, but this is one that is especially frustrating because of the No. 12 team’s pace. On pure speed, Power looks capable of contending with Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud for wins and the championship.
But if it’s not errors on pit road, they are mental mistakes by the driver himself and that frustrates Power. He spun the tires on pit release at Circuit of the Americas and broke a driveshaft. He took Felix Rosenqvist and Spencer Pigot three-wide and washed out at Belle Isle in Race one.
And to be sure, there have been mistakes on pit road by the team too, which could leave Power pressing. The whole season has just been a series of would, coulda, shoulda.
Power says it can’t possibly get worse than this.
“For me, yeah, yeah yeah, yeah man,” Power said after the race. “Pretty bad. Pretty bad.”
Power started Sunday’s race in 15th and was simply trying to maximize positions off the start with a fast car. He saw three cars battling hard and a slight gap opened up on corner entry at Turn 8.
He went for it.
“I got a good run on Graham and I went down the inside of him and he had a car on the outside of him apparently,” Power said. “He turned hard. I hit that inside wall, hit him, we both went into the wall. Unfortunate, because I made a lot of spots at the start.”
Rahal couldn’t believe Power went for it, especially on the first lap.
“I think he was way overaggressive for Lap 1,” Rahal said. “But shit, when you look back at Will in the rear-view mirror, you can damn near see his eye balls as big as a cartoon character, the size of the moon, you can see it coming.
“I should have just let him go. He probably would have punted Marco no matter what, no, he would have punted Marco no matter what, and I would have been collected anyway.”
And in hindsight, there was nothing Rahal could have done differently in that scenario because he was already side-by-side with Andretti.
“I was so focused on Marco and making my move there, I was just really surprised he threw it in there,” Rahal added. “First lap of the race, the bumpiest corner on the entire track. That’s a bold bold bold bold bold move. Then again, like I said, I love Will like a brother and I have a lot of respect for Will, but he can be stupidly aggressive sometimes. And it bit him, and it bit us.”
And that stupid aggressiveness is becoming even more prominent with Power trying to compensate for some of the overall errors his entire team has committed this season.
But most remarkably, through it all, is that Power remains fifth in the championship standings, 128 points behind Newgarden. That’s a testament to his team’s raw speed, to be able to oftentimes claw back to sixth or seventh from the rear of the field.
Power is capable of winning races, obviously. He’s even capable of winning races in bulk to make the championship not an impossible scenario, even if unlikely. He just has to figure out whatever it is that’s going on internally to get him past the slump.
“Just go and focus, fuck,” Power said. “Not make mistakes and get desperate. This is getting frustrating, I’ll tell you that.”
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