Will Power alongside the Astor Cup. (Bruce Martin Photo)

Power Soaks Up Victory Celebration

INDIANAPOLIS – A week of celebration concluded Saturday night as two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske was honored at the 2022 Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Power and his team left the Statesville, North Carolina Airport at 4 p.m. Eastern Time to fly to Indianapolis. One hour later, the winning team was on the ground in Indianapolis and a bus brought them to the Speedway where Power led the winning team off the bus and into the invitation-only banquet.

Power poses with his No. 12 Team Penske crew. (Bruce Martin Photo)

It was the culmination of a week of championship celebration for the Team Penske driver that added a second title to the first one he captured in 2014.

“It’s been a great week,” Power told SPEED SPORT when he got off the bus. “What I remember most is some of the food I ate. We went to ‘The Ivy’ and I had Wagyu Beef.

“It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had in my life.

“I got to do SportsCenter at ESPN in Los Angeles and appear in studio, but what I really liked was going to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. I really enjoyed that.”

Those were just a few of the many media hits that Power had during his champion’s tour.

Saturday night was a chance to celebrate with his team, pick up the Astor Cup Trophy along with the other accolades, but he is already looking forward.

“I’m already thinking about next year,” Power said. “I have plenty of time left in my career to accomplish more in racing.

“My next goal is to keep chipping away and trying to get more wins each year. It was a light year for wins, but a great year for podiums.”

Power’s championship formula included one victory, but nine podiums and 12 top-five finishes. Teammate Josef Newgarden was second in the championship with five wins, but only six podiums. Just once did he finish on the podium without winning a race.

As for Power, he believes last season was one of his worst seasons, so he was able to reinvent himself. He entered 2022 as a much calmer, more mature driver. He didn’t sweat the little things and that helped him find solutions to the obstacles that were in front of him.

Power won the championship by just 16 points over a hard-charging Newgarden, who finished second in the championship for the third year in a row.

“Overall, I’m filled with a lot of pride for our team and what we were able to do this year,” Newgarden said. “Any year that you step in the championship, you can easily see the challenges it presents everybody.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for the teams and drivers. To be a part of it, make it through it and for us at Team Penske, to topple it, is a very big deal. We’re all competitive.

“The tough thing about being in a championship fight with teammates is we all want to be the best. That’s how it should be. We are competitive people and want to be the best. But it’s a team sport.

“I take a great deal of pride to be at Team Penske. I’m really, really proud of our team and look forward to doubling down next year.”

Power’s championship was Team Penske’s record-extending 17th IndyCar Series championship and 42nd championship in all forms of racing.

Team Penske President Tim Cindric accepted the Championship Owner Award.

Newgarden and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing also were saluted for finishing second and third, respectively, in the standings.

Dixon was unable to attend because he is at the Goodwood Festival in England this weekend. He spoke to the crowd with a video from England.

“I want to apologize for not being there tonight,” Dixon said. “It was a huge championship year for all of us and a very successful one for the series and NTT and everyone involved.

“I’m at Goodwood putting the band back together with Dario Franchitti in a Pro-Am. I’m the amateur this weekend but looking forward to the race here.

“Chip Ganassi Racing had an amazing season this year with all of our partners. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short.

“I really want to congratulate Will Power. You drove a tremendous season this year. Even with some of the lows that you had, some of the mistakes with qualifying, you bounced back tremendously. I know how tough these championships are and to see you do it in the style that you did it in the last race of the season, massive congratulations.”

Power led the 2022 season with five NTT P1 Awards for pole, earning the NTT P1 Award as the best qualifier of the season. It’s the fifth time in his career he has won this award. Power also made history last weekend by winning his 68th career pole, breaking a tie with fellow legend Mario Andretti for the all-time IndyCar Series record.

Team Penske’s technical team also was honored with two awards. Kyle Moyer won the Team Manager of the Year Award for the fifth time. It’s the sixth time a Team Penske executive has won. Pennzoil presented Trevor Lacasse with the Chief Mechanic of the Year for the first time, the sixth time a Team Penske mechanic has earned this award.

Power’s No. 12 Verizon Team Penske crew also won the Firestone Pit Performance Award for earning the most cumulative Pit Stop Performance Award points during the 2022 season.

Team Penske drivers Power, Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin delivered nine of Chevrolet’s series-leading 11 victories this season, helping Chevy win the Manufacturer Award for the seventh time since it returned to the series in 2012 and the first time since 2017. Jim Danahy, U.S. vice president, Competition Motorsports Engineering for Chevrolet, accepted the award on behalf of his team.

Christian Lundgaard was honored as the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year. Lundgaard, from Denmark, scored one podium finish, two top-five finishes and seven top-10s in the No. 30 Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He edged David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD by 18 points in the standings for first-year series drivers.

Success in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires also was honored this year at the Victory Lap, as in 2022 IndyCar took over execution and promotion of the series that provides the last step of preparation for drivers aspiring to race in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Linus Lundqvist was honored as champion after a dominant season for HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. Lundqvist, from Sweden, won a series-high five races in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing entry and clinched the Lights championship with a race to spare, ending with a 92-point advantage over Sting Ray Robb.

Lundqvist also received a painting representing his 2022 championship season created by noted motorsports artist Jim Swintal, also a longtime IndyCar Series race official. Swintal has painted these works for Lights champions every year since 1991.

Andretti Autosport teammates Robb and Matthew Brabham also were honored for finishing second and third, respectively, in the standings.

HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing owners Henry and David Malukas accepted an honor for their championship-winning team this season in Lights.

Hunter McElrea received the Rookie of the Year Award in Indy Lights. McElrea, from New Zealand, drove to two victories, seven podium finishes and three poles in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport entry en route to finishing fourth in the series standings.

Newgarden and Lundqvist also received the AiM Sports Move Award for their respective series, presented to the driver judged to have made the most dramatic pass of the year.

When the evening concluded, Team Penske boarded the bus, which took them back to the team’s private jet to fly them back to the Statesville, North Carolina Airport.

They were home by midnight.

“The best thing about this is I get to sleep in my own bed tonight,” Power said.