• Will Power has raced 15 times at Iowa Speedway, and 15 times come away without an IndyCar victory.
  • Meanwhile, Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden has won four of the past eight races at Iowa.
  • As for the NTT IndyCar Series championship, Alex Palou leads second-ranked Scott Dixon by 117 points heading into Iowa.

Will Power is one of the best teammates fellow drivers can have.

But don’t be surprised if Power has a few nails in his pocket to throw at the tires of Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden to slow him down and potentially give Power a chance to finally win at Iowa Speedway for the first time in this weekend’s only doubleheader of the season.

You see, in 15 starts at the 7/8-mile track in Newton, Iowa, Power has won the pole six times in 2010, 2013, 2017, 2018 and for both races last year.

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Will Power enters this weekend’s Iowa doubleheader on a 20-race winless streak.
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And while Power has also earned podium finishes in the last three races at Iowa (second in the second race of 2020, as well as finished third and second in both races last season), he’s a bit ticked off at his teammate hogging victory lane.

Newgarden has been nearly unbeatable at the track roughly 25 miles east of Des Moines, winning four of the last eight races there.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, one of my favorite tracks, been trying to win there for years,” Power said of Iowa.

But then he quickly hastens to add, “There's one guy that seems to prevent it.”

And who would that one guy be? “A guy that hasn't lost an oval race maybe that he's finished in about three years,” Power quipped about Newgarden.

Now, you’d think that Power and Newgarden are close friends, which they usually are. They believe in team owner Roger Penske’s philosophy of “all for one and one for all.”

But when it comes to racing at Iowa, all bets are off. Power comes into this weekend prepared to do whatever it takes to finally get that elusive first win at Iowa – and that’s where those nails might come in handy.hat, or maybe deflating Newgarden’s tires before both 250-lap races. The way Power sees it, being teammates only goes so far at Iowa.

“Teammates are actually worse to each other on track, aren't they?” Power said of Newgarden and, to a certain extent, his other teammate, Scott McLaughlin.

Power returns to Iowa with a good mindset that he hopes finally translates into a win there.

“I always feel good at Iowa,” he said. “We have great cars there. Yeah, it's an interesting race. It's quite difficult to win.”

Then Power goes back to the guy who has been such a thorn in his side.

“If Josef wasn't there, maybe I would feel very confident,” Power said. “I've been runner-up and (the) last three races I've been on the podium.

“I just keep knocking on that door. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to getting there, seeing where we stack up. I feel like we'll stack up there.”

He then added rather succinctly, “it will be a pretty fierce race.”

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Will Power, right, was left looking up at teammate Josef Newgarden on the podium last year at Iowa.
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Power is still steaming about this past Sunday’s 14th-place finish at Toronto. He was running in the top five for much of the second half of the race and appeared headed for a top five, if not a potential podium.

But with two laps left, Power was ordered into the pits for a splash of fuel because there was a fear he might not make it to the end.

Power countered that concern from his pits, saying over the team radio that he thought he could make it all the way, but dutifully acquiesced and stopped for a splash.

Unfortunately, it was a very costly splash, as his potential podium, if not a top five finish, ended up being a disappointing 14th-place showing.

Power and Newgarden (who finished fifth at Toronto) both believed there may have been something wrong with Team Penske’s addition and subtraction when it came to fuel mileage and how many more laps each driver could go. Power said he was sure he could have made it to the finish on the fuel he had left, but he was over-ruled and being the dutiful soldier, he stopped for the extra fuel.

Here's how Power explained the fuel mileage snafu:

“The fuel estimation was 2% wrong, that was the problem, we had a 2% error,” Power said. “Even if it was just a 1% error wrong, we're making it (to the finish line instead of having to pit), but 2% is—yeah, we're making it—we were on par for the numbers that were given to me. Everyone was expecting that we would make it.

“So it was such a surprise when we saw a fuel light come on, which is triggered by the fuel (collector pot). … Once there's 1.8 gallons left, that gives you the first indication of exactly where your fuel's at. Otherwise, you're only guessing at what the engine manufacturer tells you.

“Anyway, that (collector pot) thing in the fuel tank, that trigger came on much earlier than we expected, which is from the 2 percent error, which is just so hard to (believe).

“IndyCar should allow fuel flow meters. They should, because the amount of money teams spend on building the canister in there, the whatever it is, the fuel flow meter, because then you know exactly where it is. I think they don't do it for cost reasons because it's probably around ten grand for a fuel flow meter. Yeah, it would make the strategy much easier, much easier.

“Yeah, unfortunate. That was maybe a potentially top three or maybe even second. But to how much more -- you know, heard it running out lifting on the back straight. If we don't have that error, we're pushing pretty hard on those last couple laps.”

Still, Power isn’t blaming anyone on his team for the fuel fiasco.

“That's no one's fault, it's just one of those things,” he said. “Who would think 2% error—1% error, yeah, fair enough. But 2, unfortunately.”

Heading into this weekend, Team Penske obviously hopes the fuel error at Toronto has been resolved. Now, all Power has to worry about are guys like series leader Alex Palou, who has won three of the last four races and four of the last six, as well as, of course, his teammate, Newgarden.

Palou has absolutely dominated the series this season with his four wins. And in the first 10 races of the 17-race season, his worst finish to date has only been eighth (in the season opener at St. Petersburg). Since then, the Spaniard has finished third (Texas), fifth (Long Beach and Birmingham), fourth (Indianapolis 500), second (Toronto) and wins in the Indy Grand Prix, Detroit, Road America and Mid-Ohio.

Power believes Palou is overdue to have a bad outing, and that could potentially happen during one of this weekend’s two races at Iowa.

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Alex Palou is threatening to turn the 2023 IndyCar championship chase into a runaway.
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“(Palou will) probably have a bad race,” Power said. “He could have a couple to not even turn up and still win the championship.”

That’s why Power believes mindset and strategy has shifted for all IndyCar teams for the remaining seven races of the season, starting with this weekend’s twinbill.

“Now I think everyone is just absolutely going for wins,” Power said. “You're not really championship racing anymore, you're just going for wins. Hence what happened at Toronto. Running out of gas, you're willing to take more of a risk on strategy and so on. Yeah, it’s just all about winning now.

“It is possible to catch (Palou)? Obviously, mathematically, for probably a top 10, but that's a big gap (Palou leads second-ranked Scott Dixon by 117 points heading into Iowa). That's a lot of bad races for a guy that's very consistent. But who knows? Say you won both races at Iowa and he DNF'd both, suddenly it starts to look a little more realistic.”

And then there’s the No. 1 thorn in Power’s side at Iowa, Newgarden. Here’s what Power had to say about the frustration of his teammate almost always beating him at the little bullring in America’s heartland:

“What makes it difficult to win? Josef is one of the reasons. He's just been very good there. He's just very good at putting it together. That certainly was the closest I'd ever been to him last year. We'll see if I can improve more this year.

“As you know, it's not all over if he's leading at the beginning. There's many strategy plays and obviously a lot of traffic to get through. Just never lose hope. Keep pushing, pushing real hard and just being smart about it.”

NTT IndyCar Series

Championship Standings

After 10 of 17 races

  1. Alex Palou 417 (4 wins)
  2. Scott Dixon 300 (0)
  3. Josef Newgarden 291 (2)
  4. Marcus Ericsson 275 (1)
  5. Pato O'Ward 274 (0)
  6. Scott McLaughlin 258 (1)
  7. Christian Lundgaard 248 (1)
  8. Will Power 242 (0)
  9. Colton Herta 239 (0)
  10. Alexander Rossi 230 (0)

— Note: A total of 54 points can be earned by any one driver for a given race (50 points for the win, bonus point for pole, fastest lap, most laps let and for leading at least one lap).

Points for Each Finishing Position

  • 1st - 50
  • 2nd - 40
  • 3rd - 35
  • 4th - 32
  • 5th- 30
  • 6th - 28
  • 7th - 26
  • 8th - 24
  • 9th - 22
  • 10th - 20
  • 11th - 19
  • 12th - 18
  • 13th - 17
  • 14th - 16
  • 15th - 15
  • 16th - 14
  • 17th - 13
  • 18th - 12
  • 19th - 11
  • 20th - 10
  • 21st - 9
  • 22nd - 8
  • 23rd - 7
  • 24th - 6
  • 25th and lower - 5

Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski