Power: I will be IndyCar champion in 2016

Will Power
Will Power

Verizon IndyCar Series Team Penske driver Will Power dropped by Detroit on Friday to visit Chevrolet dealers, executives and the GM Heritage Center, home to a collection of fabulous cars in Sterling Heights.

The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix has been confirmed as a Verizon IndyCar Series doubleheader again next year and will be run June 3-5. Tickets will go on sale at the end of October.

The Australian open-wheel driver and 2014 IndyCar champ sat down for breakfast at the RenCen with Free Press racing writer Mike Brudenell to discuss a year that could have been and a season that ended on a tragic note with the death of popular British-born racer Justin Wilson in a freak accident at Pocono in the penultimate race of 2015.

Q: You finished third to Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon in the IndyCar championship. How do you rate the performance?

A: It just wasn't one of those years that flowed well for me. I think about three races really cost us where we had the speed and were really good enough and which would have put us in the game at the end: Stalling at Long Beach and going a lap down; leading the most laps at Canada (Toronto), being right there and taken out; and Milwaukee, where we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was kind of happy to finish third in points considering.

Q: Surprised by the results of the last race of the year at Sonoma, when your teammate Juan Pablo Montoya seemed to have the title locked up and Dixon wins it?

A: No — it was one of those years when the unexpected happened. Not surprised at all.

Q: You are not a fan of IndyCar's double-points races. Why?

A: It's a great idea if you are the one who gets the double points — if you are on the receiving end. I just don't think many people like it. I don't. Why should you have double points at one race and not another? They should all count the same. They are all important. Now, double prize-money — that would be a good idea.

Q: Would you tweak the race format — maybe like NASCAR has done in recent years?

A: No, I think the Series has produced great racing until the very end over the years. When you get four people at the last race of the year at Sonoma with a chance to win the title, I call that pretty exciting. Then, again, I think I'm going to wrap up the championship in 2016 long before the last race.

Q: Would you extend the season, add more dates?

A: I kind of enjoy the long off-season myself. Maybe fans and sponsors would prefer more races. It would be good for TV.

Q: The racing world lost Justin Wilson at Pocono. What was he like?

A: He was so easy-going and non-opinionated. I never saw Justin have a beef with anyone in the pits. That was amazing. Justin was a super impressive and clean racer. He was awesome on cold tires. No one ever had a bad word for Justin.

Q: Could he have been a series champion had he been with a top team?

A: Yes, I always said it, 'we are going to be in trouble the day Wilson gets signed by Ganassi or Penske.' I just can't believe it never happened.

Q: Some people have been calling for closed cockpits — canopies — in IndyCar since Wilson's death after being struck in the helmet from flying debris at Pocono. What are your thoughts — should open-wheel with open cockpits continue the long tradition?

A: It has absolutely nothing to do with tradition as far as I'm concerned. I don't know whether canopies are possible in the near future (in IndyCar) but something — whether it's a bigger, longer helmet — has to be done. I don't want "racing is dangerous" just to be an excuse not to look at safety. It just can't be an excuse because every year someone gets hurt seriously (in the series) … and every four years, someone gets killed. Yes, racing is dangerous, but, obviously, there are things we can look at. IndyCar is pretty proactive in the world of safety. More at Detroit Free Press

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