BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Will Power isn’t perfect at Barber Motorsports Park, but he’s pretty close to it.
The 36-year-old from Toowoomba, Australia, earned his fourth Verizon P1 Award at the track and the 46th pole position of his Indy car career Saturday in what will be his eighth start at the 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course when he leads the Verizon IndyCar Series to green for today’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First
A two-time winner of the event, including a 2011 victory in which he led every lap, Power’s ability to adapt to ever-changing track conditions are a big reason for his success. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion acknowledged his desire to overcome the challenges that the Barber track presents each session, each year.
“I want to be quick everywhere, and every time we come here it’s different,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
“The setup is different; the approach is different. It’s not like you turn up each time and know exactly what to do. It’s amazing the differences from the previous year and the way you improve year after year.
“This track in particular, I’ve won here a couple of times and been on pole, but I’ve been on pole and won at pretty much a lot of the tracks in the series.”
Power has accumulated an average start of 2.4 at Barber, and it is nearly equaled with a 3.4 average finish. He wouldn’t mind improving on that latter number in today’s 90-lap race (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).
“I need to win here again (today),” said Power. “I want to get that (my average finish) back up there. Yeah, it’s just been a good track for me and I really enjoy the place.”
Power’s performance at Barber is something that he credits more to Team Penske and expects long runs to be key in the race.
“First, it's having a very good team and car,” he said. “Definitely working well this weekend, kind of focusing very well and making sure I'm looking at the right things. Felt like I had a much better car on used tires. I think that's kind of where we've been going wrong. Yeah, just very good result.”
Team Penske’s run of Barber success spreads among teammates. Helio Castroneves captured the flag in 2010, while Simon Pagenaud comes in as the defending race winner. Even newcomer Josef Newgarden has seen victory, claiming his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series win in 2015 when he drove for CFH Racing (now Ed Carpenter Racing).
All things considered, Power doesn’t anticipate any antics with his fellow colleagues.
“I think we all try and take care of each other as best we can because we're a unit. The most important thing for Team Penske is having a car and hopefully all four cars finishing well and as high up as they can. So 1-2-3-4, that's obviously the best that you can achieve,” said Power.
“It doesn't mean we don't race each other. We race each other as hard as we can, we just try and make it clean, make sure there's no incidents. If there is one, then we'll probably have some repercussions, but we try and not let that happen. Try and keep it as clean as we can.”
Currently 19th in the championship standings after two of 17 races, a win would go a long way to putting Power’s season back on track, but he isn’t going to push beyond the limits.
“There's no need to get desperate,” said Power. “It's very early in the season, but just focusing on the job, man, just focusing correctly.”
A final 30-minute warmup practice for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is scheuled for 10:45 a.m. ET today. It will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.