There’s nothing like a Will Power post-race press conference.
When Power speaks, it’s a combination of a stream of consciousness, an unfiltered I-don’t-care-what-I-say diatribe and maybe throw in a little ADHD to the overall stew. It oftentimes evolves into a comedy routine, which isn’t totally surprising given that his younger brother, Damien, is one of the biggest stand-up comics in the brothers’ native Australia.
There’s nothing else like it on the IndyCar circuit. When Power opens his mouth, many collectively hold their breath because they don’t know what outrageous thing he’ll say next.
That’s what makes his press conferences—and especially Will the person—so fun to listen to.
Following his win in Saturday’s Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Power took center stage and let things fly. He was candid, humorous, antagonistic and even pissed off (he said it).
Here’s some of the highlights of Power holding court:
Power On Kyle Busch
When informed he tied Kyle Busch for the IMS record for most wins by a driver (six), Power deadpanned: “Let’s hope he doesn’t win this weekend.”
Of course, the media center cracked up, and having broken the ice, Power kept the hits coming.
Once again, backmarker drivers were an issue. Power has a solution: “Back markers certainly make it tough in this series, and it’s a simple fix. You simply give those guys their lap back when it goes yellow and they won’t fight you. You don’t even have to mandate a blue. Jay? (IndyCar president) Jay Frye? Is he here?”
When informed Frye was not at the press conference, Power quipped, “I’ve mentioned that to him from time to time.”
On Sponsor Exposure
Then there was this exchange:
Moderator: “It was almost a 10-second advantage there, but whittled away as you had …”
Moderator: “Hinch in front of you, and Herta …”
Power: “Yeah, I think he needed some coverage for his sponsor, so he was like, I need to be last but leading.”
On Being His Own Worst Critic
Power doesn’t just cast aspersions at other drivers. He even zinged himself:
“Oh, man, it’s a big relief. I think it’s great for the team, especially the guys on my car. They’ve been working hard. They’ve been flawless this year. They’ve really done the job, and I haven’t.”
How relieved was he to earn his first win of the season and the second for Team Penske?
“It’s a great feeling. It’s right in my zone, right in my wheelhouse when I’m like that. That was another day like that for me. Yeah, love it. It’s my life. Like I just love competing, but it’s just winning is absolutely what makes me happy. I’m very moody when I haven’t won for a while; just ask my wife.”
Other drivers claim they never worry about statistics. Not Power – he’s VERY aware of numbers around him:
“Yeah, you look at the stats for sure when you’re up there, and you’re aware. I’m aware how far I am off Mario (Andretti) for all-time poles (Andretti has 66, Power 61) and I’m aware where I sit now in the all-time wins list (Power is now fifth on the list with 40). I know that Michael Andretti is on 42 (wins).
“Mario Andretti, I think I can catch on poles, which can be very tough these days, but man, I was very close to getting another one yesterday, and Michael is 42 on wins. Two heroes of mine and two absolute legends of the sport, and just blows my mind that I have a name close to them in the record books. Crazy.”
Power drew more laughter when he added, “That was some serious name dropping, but my name is there. It’s crazy. Who would have thought?”
On Taking His Act on the Road
Because of his quick and oftentimes dry wit, would Will ever consider teaming up with his brother for a comedy routine?
“No, stand-up is way harder than it looks,” Power said, but then abruptly changed course and said, “I may give it a go, but much harder than it looks.”
On Turning 40
When Power won last fall at Indy, he said he wanted to drive well into his 40s. He signed a contract extension before this season, just before his 40th birthday in March, and then went into a huge slump that he finally snapped Saturday.
“There have been times this year where it’s been a struggle to get the pace, the car, right,” Power said. “I start digging a lot deeper and trying to understand like what is going on, why am I not fast? I couldn’t just lose it all in a year.
“I have to say it’s the first sort of slump I’ve had as far as performance has gone in my career. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly a lack of pace. It was doing mistakes in qualifying, which is very unusual for me. I’d usually really put it together.”
Power had an incident with rookie teammate Scott McLaughlin last week at Nashville. Did he talk with Roger (Penske) about it?
“Certainly the incident with McLaughlin was not good, and yeah, I didn’t see Roger after the race a good hour there and said, ‘I need to win a race before I speak to him again,’ so fortunately I came here and did that.”
When pressed if he was telling the truth that he never did see Penske at Music City after the race, Power quipped: “I didn’t see him, no. I kind of saw Tim (Power’s chief strategist and Team Penske president Tim Cindric) and it was like, ‘yeah, I’ve got to go.’”
He then added, “I explained myself the best I could to Tim what happened and then went to my bus and didn’t come back. I wasn’t avoiding him (Penske), I just didn’t go see him.”
On Rolling Roadblocks
Power was not happy with rolling roadblock and back marker James Hinchcliffe, who was trying to keep from falling off the lead lap:
“When I got to him and I saw he was using Push-to-Pass to keep me behind, I’m like, it’s just insane that we have this in IndyCar. Even the second-place guy doesn’t like it, and the third-place guy because if I get past him then they’ve got to work to get past him. It just ruins races.
“I don’t even think the guys that are trying to stay on the lead lap like it because they don’t want to be a pain in the ass. They would like to get out of the way, and it’s such a simple fix. Just bloody give them their lap back if it goes yellow. Give anyone who’s a lap down their lap back. Give them one simple fix.
“It just blows my mind that we are at such a competitive series, you have nine different winners already, and no one consistently gets on pole, and it’s just a different pole sitter every week, and yet you’ve got to come around and fight someone who’s the last guy? I mean, there’s no series in the world that does that.
“It pisses me off, man. Like just crazy that you’re racing someone who’s a lap down, it’s insane, or going a lap down. It’s too competitive to do that. Everyone works too hard, spends way too much money to be racing some guy that’s a lap down that’s having a bad day.”
Then, Power cracks up the crowd once more when he suddenly flips back to the positive, uttering, “Anyway, it was a good day to win, though. I just thought I’d get that point across when I can.”
Mind If I Take a Call?
Power then abruptly—we did say ADHD earlier, right?—interrupted his press conference to take a phone call from fourth-place finisher Alexander Rossi.
Power put the conversation on speaker for reporters to hear:
Power: “It’s Alex Rossi, sorry. Thanks, man.”
Rossi: “I’m happy for you. I’m also glad I’m going home, so have fun with that.”
Power: “Please tell me you didn’t have another bad race.”
Rossi: “No, I finished fourth.”
Power: “I was like, man, if you had another bad race, I was going to be like — I broke the spell, though, dude. I broke the spell. You’ve got to win now. Hey, I’ve got to get back to press conference. Thanks, man.”
Then, just seconds after hanging up on Rossi, Power was asked if he would give his secret to winning Saturday to Rossi for the next race.
“No, I want to win, so screw him,” Power said.
Life Is Short
When asked about his sometimes twisted humor, Power had the perfect reply: “I laugh about everything now. Once you’re 40 you don’t care. It’s like, you’re going to be dead soon anyway.
“This 40 years to get to here went really fast, so I’m sure the next 20 to 40 is going to go even faster. Going to be dead soon, so it doesn’t matter. Say what you want, do what you want. That’s the best way.”
Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski
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