Will Power had every right to be frustrated, irate, or simply flabbergasted at losing his third consecutive championship. The Australian has lost those in the oval season finale in each of the last three years, despite also capturing the Mario Andretti Trophy for the road course championship in each.
Instead, Power was philosophical, gracious, and internally frustrated at himself for the missed opportunity, this time losing out to Ryan Hunter-Reay.
“To be honest, I've learned how to cope with it,” Power said with a wry smile. “What's gonna happen, is gonna happen. There's no use in dwelling on it. Racing is tough. IndyCar in particular is tough. You can point fingers at why. (Ryan) won more races, he won on ovals, road courses. He's definitely a deserving champion.”
Power crashed on lap 55 through Turn 2, narrowly avoiding Hunter-Reay in the process. His car came back to the pit lane but through a Herculean effort by his Team Penske crew, he was able to get back out on track.
The time on track was an additional 12 laps that he got to overtake E.J. Viso for 24th place and thus earn two more championship points, which required Hunter-Reay to finish at least fifth.
“The track was coming in really nicely,” he said of the conditions before his accident. “It was rubbering up, getting cooler. The track was at its peak of grip. (The series) got the downforce level right, really.”
“I was very, very tense,” he said of the car after he returned for the track. “I couldn't do more than five laps. Could have got it back to where it was.”
There was nearly one final shot for Power to regain the points edge as his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves pitted for tires before the final restart. Castroneves, it appeared, had enough momentum to slingshot past Takuma Sato (who crashed) and Hunter-Reay to deny the American fifth place and thus give Power the title. Sato's crash ended those chances.
“You know, I thought, ‘Suddenly, here comes Castroneves,'” Power said. “Then Sato caused the yellow. But having to rely on someone having a bad day, is not what you want. You really... you need to be there yourself. And now it's been the last race of every year for me. It's very strange.”