With a championship already in the trophy cabinet and a new baby son in the motorhome, Toowoomba’s Will Power is more relaxed than usual heading into this weekend’s opening round of the Verizon IndyCar at Championship at St Petersburg in Florida.
After a few of false starts, Power eventually clinched his maiden title in 2014, despite a couple of nervous final rounds at Sonoma and Fontana.
Power shot straight out of the box with a track record and pole at last year’s St Petersburg event, but fell ill prior to the race start and was replaced at the last minute by veteran Oriol Servia. Many speculated Power’s illness was caused through a heavy accident in practice, but it was later proven to be a middle-ear infection.
Despite missing a chance to score points, Power had a strong second half which included race wins at Detroit, Road America, Toronto and Pocono, but he could not bridge the gap on his Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud who clinched his first title.
Ironically, Power finished runner-up in the championship three consecutive years to Dario Franchitti from 2010-2012.
With a reputation for being totally chilled or totally “strung out”, Power is keen to take more of a relaxed approach to this season, which some are predicting could be a 1-2-3-4 Penske washout with Helio Castroneves and Joseph Newgarden also in Penske machinery this season.
A total of 21 cars will contest this season’s opener in St Petersburg, which will be hosting its 14th IndyCar event since 2003.
“I’ve just said it’s going to be what it’s going to be,” Power told IndyCar.com.
“The year I won the championship, I just did a race-by-race thing. I’ve tried everything, but I think what works is just focusing on each little bit at a time.
“I’m just looking forward to this season.
“I’m just doing my normal thing heading into it. I haven’t really thought about it too much. It’s been a long time since then, a lot of races since then. I’m just working through the things I need to do in order to be quick there.
“There was really not much thought about the championship after St. Pete, but then there was when we got closer to it.
“But after St. Pete, we just went out and focused on each race individually. We just went out at each race trying to see what happens and where you end up. Suddenly, we were there (in the hunt).”
“The goal is always to win the championship, but setting specific goals is an unnecessary kind of pressure.
“Letting it happen as it happens is more appropriate.”
While there have been a few driver movements in the off-season, the biggest change has come with Chip Ganassi Racing moving from Chevrolet back to Honda power for 2017.
The team also lost long-time sponsor Target with Scott Dixon’s car being sponsored by GE LED Lighting this weekend.
The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend opens with a pair of 45-minute practices Friday, beginning at 11:15am. and 3pm. ET (US).
A third practice is scheduled for 10:50am. Saturday, with knockout qualifying beginning at 2:55pm.
The final warmup practice takes place at 9am. Sunday, with the green flag waving for the 110-lap event on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit at 12:30pm.
Every session prior to the race will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
The race airs live at noon ET (US) Sunday on ABC.
The race will be shown from 3am-6am Australian Eastern Daylight Savings time on ESPN.
The second round of the 16-event championship will be the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 7-9.
ENTRY LIST – FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST PETERSBURG
1: Simon Pagenaud, Team, Penske Chevrolet
2: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, Chevrolet
3: Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, Chevrolet
4: Conor Daly, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Chevrolet
5: James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda
7: Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda
8: Max Chilton, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Honda
9: Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Honda
10: Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Honda
12: Will Power, Team Penske, Chevrolet
14: Carlos Munoz, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Chevrolet
15: Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda
18: Sebastien Bourdais, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda
19: Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda
20: Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet
21: JR Hildebrand Sausalito, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet
26: Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport, Honda
27: Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport with Lendium, Honda
28: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, Honda
83: Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Honda
98: Alexander Rossi, Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, Honda