It’s been 15 months since the book release of “The Sheer Force of Will Power,” but interest in the Australian’s life story is still the subject of good-natured debate among Team Penske drivers.
Specifically, who has read the book?
Josef Newgarden says he has. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud insist they won’t peruse those pages unless Power gives them a free copy.
Power and Newgarden aren’t buying that.
Power says he’s told Pagenaud, “Dude, you’ve already read it. I know you have. There’s no way you haven’t!”
“He probably read it the first night,” Newgarden said.
“Yeah, what does Will Power do?” Power said.
“I bet Simon was highlighting and making notes,” Newgarden said. “What are things Will has gotten an advantage from?”
“That’s the truth,” Power said, laughing.
Power’s life story, co-written with veteran motorsports journalist David Malsher and published through HarperCollins, begins with childhood days in Australia and culminates with his rise to winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship for team owner Roger Penske.
All four Penske drivers are in the hunt for this season’s title. Four-time series champion Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing leads Pagenaud by 34 points. Castroneves is third, three points behind Pagenaud. In his first season with Penske, Newgarden sits fifth, 61 points back. Power is sixth, two points behind Newgarden.
When told of the book-reading assertions made by Power and Newgarden, Pagenaud laughs.
“That’s funny,” the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion said. “No, I can’t confirm that (I’ve read it). The problem is Will never gave me the book. I said, ‘You’ve got to give me the book because I must be in the book, so you should give me a book.’ I don't even know where to buy the book.”
What of the suggestion that Pagenaud, always looking for an edge, would secretly read the book to try to get inside Power’s head?
“I think that would be too complicated. In his head, such a maze in there,” Pagenaud said.
Pagenaud’s friendly rivalry with Power predates when they became teammates in 2015. They were also teammates at Walker/Team Australia in Champ Car in 2007 – Pagenaud’s rookie Indy car season and Power’s second full season.
In his first Verizon IndyCar Series season with owner Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports in 2012, Pagenaud enjoyed performing a spot-on impersonation of actor Sacha Baron Cohen’s movie character Jean Girard, a French driver in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Much to the amusement of his crew and fellow drivers,
Pagenaud, in character, would pronounce, “I have come to defeat Will Power.”
Although Pagenaud accomplished that mission last year, Power continues to rise the Indy car ranks with 31 career victories, tied with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for ninth on the all-time list.
One of the drivers Power has passed is Castroneves, who has 29 career wins.
But there’s no reading between the lines for Castroneves, who adamantly reiterates his stand on reading Power’s book.
“I have not yet. Yet,” the Brazilian said. “He didn’t give me a copy. I will not buy a book from Will Power. I will not. If he gives me a book, I’ll read it. But if he doesn’t give it to me, I won’t read it.
“I thought I was a cheapskate. I thought I was tight, but this guy, oh my God, he won the prize. I definitely need to make a trophy with a (closed) fist and give it to him. He’s tight.”
Power chuckles at that.
“I’m going to make him read it,” he said, smiling. “That’s actually funny Helio says that. It was always the joke when I joined the team: He gets so happy if you buy him dinner. I’ve never seen anyone so stoked to have dinner bought for him. He can’t believe he has to pay out 10 bucks for a dinner. A $50 dinner is what I bought him.”
Unlike Castroneves and Pagenaud, who are waiting for their free copies, you can purchase "The Sheer Force of Will Power" here.