2012 saw IZOD IndyCar Series driver Will Power won the Mario Andretti Road Course Championship for the third consecutive year. The overall performance as a driver for Team Penske also earned his third consecutive second place finish in the series’ driver championship. Yet, somehow these statistics fail to tell the story about Power’s utter dominance of the IndyCar Series in 2010, 2011, and most especially, in 2012. Because when Power “lost” the championship this past season to American Ryan Hunter-Reay, it was by the slimmest of margins -- a mere three points. Or to put it another way, it came down to one inopportune pit stop in a street race and one spin in an oval race. This does appear in retrospect to be a most unconvincing loss.
Since Power has been such a dominating force in IndyCar for the past four seasons, most of the attention was focused on him that weekend as the potential champion. In 2010 and 2011, Power’s main competitor had been Dario Franchitti. But, struggles with the new car for 2012 stymied the Scotsman’s competitiveness during the season. By contrast, Ryan Hunter-Reay did not seem to threaten Power’s cruising to what would have been his first series championship in IndyCar. Except, it didn’t turn out that way.
Never comfortable on ovals, the Australian spun on lap 55 and it looked as though that would be it for Power’s season. Incredibly, though, his Penske crew was able to put his car back together enough to enable him to return to the track. Never in danger of winning, Power nonetheless did not make it easy for the Andretti team. They finished 4th, and while not dominating as Power, nonetheless, they won the championship in a thriller finish.
And Will Power remains the road racer champion of his generation, with or without an IndyCar series championship.