COMMENTARY | His name suggests wisdom, strength and self-discipline.
But for IndyCar star Will Power, those qualities have been pushed to the limit during his hard-luck IndyCar career.
Make no mistake about it, the driver of the Verizon-sponsored Team Penske Chevrolet is as talented as they come. He has a cool demeanor and an ability to wheel a racecar like few before him. But misfortune and heartbreak have been the name of the game for the Australian over his decade-long open wheel career.
With 18 career wins and 31 poles to his name in IZOD IndyCar competition, Power has shown an ability that both his fans and Roger Penske himself has believed in since 2009. In fact, from 2009 to 2012, Power recorded 41 top 10s in 55 starts, finishing second in the standings three times.
But that is where this story begins to take a dramatic turn.
While most drivers would be lucky to count three runner-up finishes among their career accomplishments, each one of Power's second-place finishes further pushed the dagger into Power's dreams of being an IndyCar champion.
Now would be the time to turn your head if are squeamish.- In 2010 Power led the championship standings by 12 points over Dario Franchitti entering the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Power had five wins and a season-worst finish of 16th. His finish at that race? A heart-wrenching 25th following an accident, giving Franchitti the title by 12 points.
- In 2011 Power once again led the series in wins with six, but a 19th-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in what would prove the deciding race following the tragedy-marred IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas would once again give Franchitti the title.
- Finally, last year's championship proved the hardest pill to swallow. Entering the season finale at Fontana, Power led the way with 17 points, but he wrecked on lap 55 and finished 24th while Ryan Hunter-Reay went on to win the championship. The margin of victory -- a mere three points.
Three chances to clinch, three season-ending accidents, three second-place finishes.
And then there is 2013. After recording 15 wins over the past four seasons, Power is stuck in the worst rut of his career. Through 13 races this season, Power has only three top five finishes, offset by eight finishes of 15th or worse. Currently, Power is stuck in 10th place, 152 points back of leader Helio Castroneves. He also hasn't had a win in 16 months, a span of 24 races.
As hard as it is to comprehend the heartbreak of losing in such a devastating manner, Power would argue that the last three seasons have been freeing. In June, the 32-year-old driver said, "I guess there's not as much expectation on myself to win now. A little bit more of not a relaxed approached, but methodical, not in a desperate way."
I guess you will tell yourself anything to try and get through with your sanity intact.
No matter how you look at it, Power needs to get something going and fast entering this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Power has had two runner-up finishes at the Ohio road course in the past three seasons, and he could certainly use the boost in confidence.
After all, a little willpower goes a long way.
L.A. Crum is a professional writer and photographer from Ohio. He is an avid fan of motorsports and college athletics and has worked with many of the top teams and drivers in the racing industry during his decade long career. He is a proud graduate of Marshall University.
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