In the second installment of 2009 season diaries from the Penske Racing IndyCar Series drivers, Will Power talks about his best season in racing as he drove the No. 12 Verizon WirelessPenske Truck Rental Dallara/Honda.
By Will Power
Well, the 2009 season was certainly one that I will never forget. For many reasons, this was one of my best seasons in racing. That may sound a bit strange, considering I only competed in six races, but I really learned a lot this season and I know that all of the experiences will make me a better driver in the long run.
The year started out great for me as I joined Penske Racing, stepping in for Helio Castroneves in pre-season testing and for the first race at St. Petersburg. From the moment I started working with the team, it just felt right. Everyone at Penske Racing welcomed me, even under tough circumstances. The team is so well prepared and so thorough, it's just a pleasure to work in that environment.
We were all very happy that Helio was able to return to Team Penske at Long Beach. The team was definitely ready for every scenario that weekend but it was still pretty amazing to see everything play out. I drove the car in practice on Friday and Tim (Cindric) told me when I pulled into the pits that Helio would be on a plane from Miami that night. We then brought out the Verizon Wireless car and put it on the pole in qualifying. We finished second in the race and it was definitely an emotional weekend for Penske Racing.
It was an incredible experience to be able to drive for Roger Penske at the Indianapolis 500. I have to thank the team and Verizon Wireless for giving me the opportunity. We had a great month there and I was very happy to battle for the lead in the race and finish fifth. It was also pretty special to be part of the 15th win at Indy for the Penske team and to see Helio win his third race at The Brickyard.
Roger and Tim talked to me after Indy and told me that I would drive for a few more races with the team over the course of the season. That meant so much to me, because they thought enough of me as a driver and a member of the team to create a spot for me. I wanted to make the most of that opportunity.
After such a positive experience with the team, it was tough for me to sit out a few races after Indy. I stayed as involved with the team as I could but I wanted to be out on track so bad! That time taught me a lot about patience and I also got a different perspective watching the races from the pits or in the spotter's stand.
It was awesome to get back in the car at Toronto and Edmonton and those were two courses I had raced before and I felt very comfortable. We wound up winning the pole and the race at Edmonton and that was an incredible weekend. The Penske Truck Rental car was just awesome, the team had great pit stops and Ryan and Helio had good results for the team as well.
We also ran well at Kentucky and brought home a top-10 result. Working with Ryan, Helio, Rick Mears and the team really helped my development as an oval racer this season and I'm really excited about competing on the ovals next year.
Unfortunately, my season came to an early end at Infineon Raceway when I was injured in the accident during practice. That was tough, but that sometimes happens in motorsports and I've had a lot of time to think and prepare myself for next season as I've been recovering over the last few weeks. I'm healing well ahead of schedule and I hope to be able to get back in a car by December.
It was great to come back and see everyone at Miami for the season finale and while I was rooting for Ryan to win the championship, I know he will be back and fighting for the title again next season. I hope to be right there with him and Helio at Penske Racing.
See you in 2010!