Will Power got his 2021 NTT IndyCar Series campaign off to a good start with a second-place finish in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Aussie began the 90-lap contest in fourth place and trailed Alex Palou for the opening stint. Front row starters Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi ran up front the first 19 laps before making their first of three stops on lap 19.
O’Ward and Rossi fell out of contention while Palou gapped Power as high as eight seconds while the pair stretched their fuel mileage to over 30 laps.
Power aggressively used his push to pass in the third stint to erase Palou’s lead as the laps waned down and the leaders encountered lapped traffic.
He never got close to mount a charge and crossed the finish line .4016 in arrears to Palou.
“Obviously went from a three stopper to a two stopper with all those yellows at the beginning, which I didn’t mind,” he said. “I know we’re very good at getting fuel and lap time, but Alex pulled away extremely fast.
“I was surprised. I actually thought he was on a three stopper. But I think he had a very good middle stint saving fuel, and we came out close to him.
He mentioned that while he erased Palou’s massive lead, a slight miscue late cost him a shot at mounting a charge.
“I still had to save a bit of fuel at the end there, so in the last few laps I could use Push-to-Pass. Made a little mistake which made the gap not possible to close.”
“I had saved enough fuel to use Push-to-Pass for the last two laps, then I made a mistake in Turn 9 and that opened the gap up too much. I closed right up to him at the end.
“Obviously it’s the last lap and he’s not going to take any risks, but yeah, he was solid all day. It’s very, very tough to even — when he was pushing, it was so tough to close the gap.”
The finish gives power just his third podium in the season opener since 2016, and his first since finishing third at St. Petersburg in 2019. That enough has the 2018 Indianapolis 500 amped for the season ahead.
“It’s just obviously satisfying to get a good start,” he said. “Obviously, it was a very calm day for me, and I’m calm about the season, to be honest. I’ve been around long enough to know how this ebbs and flows, and I think I’ve got a very good group of guys on my car this year.
“I’m very happy with it. I think our stops are going to be really good all year. I think we’ve got the right combination to win another championship.”