Reviewing the past but looking to the future

Will Power LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC
Will Power checks in with his latest column.

By WILL POWER on 7/22/2011

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It's good to be back for another installment of my column. I've definitely calmed down after what happened to us in Toronto, and although I am still not happy with what happened on the track, we need to move forward.

Before we talk about our next race in Edmonton this weekend, if you saw the Toronto event, you know what happened. If you didn't, the long and short of it was that there were lots of unnecessary crashes--including my championship rival, Dario Franchitti, spinning me at turn three. Then Alex Tagliani hit me from behind not long afterward and ended my race entirely.

Verizon Team Penske has had a few other challenges lately, too. We qualified only 17th in Milwaukee because the car was little bit too loose in qualifying, but we ended up having a good race. To finish in fourth was pretty good considering where we started, so I was relatively happy with that.

But Milwaukee affected us somewhat at the subsequent race, in Iowa, because IndyCar's system for deciding pit-box position is based on qualifying at the most recent race on a similar type of track--in this case, an oval. So we were the 17th team to choose a pit, which put us pretty far down the line in pit lane.

We aren't really used to being in that position, and when we finished our first pit stop during the race in Iowa, we took off the way we normally would as if we were at the front of the pit lane. But we weren't really looking down the road as we should have been, and Charlie Kimball was coming into his pit, and we made contact. That was the beginning of a bad race right there, and then I lost the car and hit the wall to finish the job.

I'll tell you, the crash was exactly what it looked like--it was a hard hit. It wasn't dead square-on, which made it a bit better. Still, it was obviously a big impact. You just don't go into the wall softly there because of the corner speed and the angle. With that type of corner, the angle there is always pretty sharp, and it's probably one of the worst places you can crash. But it didn't really affect me for Toronto at all. I felt I was completely back to normal by then.

I was asked how difficult it is to put a crash like that out of your mind, and the thing that helped me in this case was that I knew why it happened. The car was bent from the impact earlier with Kimball. The steering was out of whack, and we bent the front suspension, so the car wasn't right.

Driving a damaged race car in that situation is my decision and no one else's. It's on me and has nothing to do with the team sending me out there in a wounded car. So that was just me wanting to keep going because of the championship fight. You think, maybe if we hang around the back of the field, we can get some points or move up if someone makes a mistake.

In retrospect, it was probably the wrong call at Iowa. The problem was, I had to put so much steering lock into the car to make it go around the corners that if I had a tricky moment like I had, there was no way of catching it because my hand was so far around already.

We've had two DNFs in a row, but we're going to Edmonton looking to have a good, solid race weekend. I know some people might think we've lost momentum recently, especially since Franchitti leads us by 55 points now, but I don't think that's true. It just gets harder and harder to win in IndyCar, because the drivers and teams seem to get tougher and quicker every weekend. We just have to run strong in Edmonton and not even think about the points; they are what they are. We need to get on the track and set ourselves on a positive path and have a mistake-free weekend. That's what it takes to win in this series.

You might have noticed that Verizon Team Penske made a change to my crew recently by bringing team president Tim Cindric on my car as the race strategist after Tim has worked with Helio Castroneves for years. We've had a couple of issues in the pits, and even though it's never the same problem, I think Tim is just coming over to my crew to get his take on the situation and maybe to calm the seas a bit. Tim is very good on the radio and very good with race strategy. He's also good with the crew guys all around as far as being a strong leader. It's an easy transition for me, and I look forward to working with him for the rest of the year.

Of course, Edmonton is another tough street race, so there is potential for more of the kind of action we saw in Toronto. There's nothing I can do about that except drive the best race I can and at least try to stay out of other people's problems. I have said all I have to say about the incident with Dario. I did not agree with how he raced me, and we obviously have different views of what happened.

My focus now is on getting the best result possible at Edmonton for Verizon Team Penske and taking some positive steps forward in the championship race.

Follow us all season long here on autoweekracing.com and on Twitter @12WillPower.

Editor's note: AutoWeekEditor at speed Will Power drives the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car in the Izod IndyCar Series. Last season, Power led the series with five wins and a single-season-record eight pole positions. He earned the inaugural Mario Andretti Road Course Championship and finished second in the overall series title chase.

After experiencing success in his native Australia and Europe as his career blossomed, Power first came to the United States to race in 2005. He was the Champ Car World Series rookie of the year in 2006, competing for Team Australia. He finished fourth in the Champ Car championship the following season, with two wins and eight top-five finishes. Power won at Long Beach in 2008 in Champ Car's last event and then completed his first full season in the Izod IndyCar Series for KV Racing Technology. Power joined Team Penske in 2009, filling in for Helio Castroneves during his tax-evasion trial, and he earned five more starts after Castroneves returned to the team. Just a few weeks after posting his first win for Team Penske, Power suffered injuries in a horrific accident in practice at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., to end his season early. He made a triumphant return to action in 2010.

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