Battling for a championship is something every driver hopes to do with the idea being that maybe he or she can at least have a chance at a championship. Most just want that chance to sniff the top spot but there's one driver who's seen way too much of the top of the point standings without actually winning a title - Will Power.
This season, the Australian from Penske Racing, led the points most of the year but, of course and more importantly, Power didn't lead at the end. Dario Franchitti had been Power's nemesis the past couple of seasons but this year Ryan Hunter-Reay snatched the championship.
Ending is the same
In 2011, Power see-sawed back-and-forth with Franchitti for the points lead before finishing a devastating 19th in the final race at Kentucky after grabbing the pole and then the lead early on. However, a crash in the pits left Power unable to run well enough - finishing poorly. In 2010, much like this past season, Power led the point standings almost the entire year; but, the last race of the year at Homestead saw him inexplicably brush the wall, damaging the right rear suspension and also damaging any chance of winning the championship. Franchitti still needed a Top 10 which he barely got with an eighth.
This season saw Power jump out and win three races in-a-row early on and held the top spot in the standings for most of the year. He came into the finale at Fontana with a 17 point lead over Hunter-Reay but after both drivers were languishing in the middle of the pack early-on, Power hit the wall, taking him out of the event. But Hunter-Reay still needed a top five which he got with a fourth. Yet another example of Power taking himself out of the last race after having the championship in his lap.
Power's three straight runner-up finishes in the IndyCar points championship is unprecedented. The only other driver that might be able to understand what Will Power is going through is Justin Wilson, who was third followed by being twice runner-up in the Champ Car series back in '05 through '07. The champion all three of those years was Sebastien Bourdais. In IndyCar, Scott Dixon was runner-up in '07 and again in '09 but of course won the title in '08. Winning the championship at some time in your career makes the second place finish easier to handle.
Power is arguably the best street and road course driver in the series. But his oval abilities have been a question mark and after seeing what happened with all three of these crashes, obviously an Achilles heel for Power and his chances of winning an IndyCar title.
Certainly he has some of the best equipment in the industry driving for Roger Penske. But even with the great equipment and great driving ability, can Power ever become something more than a bridesmaid, so to speak? Can he overcome his crashes at oval tracks … especially at the end of the season?
Will 2013 offer Power yet another chance to redeem himself and prevail over a seeming inadequacy for driving ovals? Many drivers would love to be in Power's seat but undoubtedly, he would love to be in the next seat up.
A new end may help
However, there's one key ingredient that may offer hope to Power in 2013. Next seasons will likely end at Houston. Houston is a street course. Yes, that sigh of relief you heard was Will Power.
Sources - IndyCar, Racing Reference
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.