Power “won’t play games” with championship contenders
Will Power says he won’t play favorites between his IndyCar title-contending Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud – and says he respects Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi for again putting himself into the championship mix.
Ahead of the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Power finished Thursday’s six hours of testing in second place, behind only Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta.
While he intends to help a Team Penske driver win the championship, Power says he wants to do it by winning the race and scoring his third win in the last four events of the 2019 season.
“That would definitely help,” he said. “In Josef's case, it makes it harder for the other guys to get him. We'll see where we qualify, where the teammates are. Obviously the main thing for this weekend is for the team to win the championship.
“If we qualify on pole, that makes it an easier job for me. That's definitely the aim.”
Asked if he had a preference in teammates, Power replied: “I do not. I do not. I never play those games. Definitely not favoring anyone in the championship.
“They both deserve it – including Rossi. I know how hard it is to get to that point. You got to give the guys that have made it and who have a chance a lot of respect, honestly. You can't be playing any games out there…
“It's going to be different for Simon and Josef. I'm not in the game. Simply for me it's whatever those guys need. If I'm ahead, on pole, then it's take points away [from Rossi]. Win the race and make it much harder for someone else to win the championship.
“I understand my position. Those guys would do it for me if the positions were reversed.”
In February’s largely unrepresentative test at Laguna Seca, Power’s engine detonated early, while his previous experience of the 2.238-mile road course was Champ Car Spring Training in 2007.
After turning 74 laps in today’s test, Power said: “I was pleasantly surprised. It's quite fun out there. Tires degrade, the cars slide around. I think that's good – it’s definitely in the drivers' hands.
“We made a lot of changes. Definitely got into a pretty good window, I'd say. We just need to work a little bit on the racecar. On the long runs, we weren't quite good enough.
“Just down to fine adjustments now, trying to understand the tire when they come in and such. Yeah, happy with the productivity today.”
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