Skip to content

St. Pete flashback: A new Power emerges in 2009

Mar 23, 2014, 1:45 PM EST

Will Power AP

Next Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series season-opener will mark the 10th anniversary of that series’ version of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (and the 11th St. Pete open-wheel race overall, counting Champ Car’s 2003 event there).

Over the last decade, we’ve seen some memorable moments as the event has evolved into one of the series’ signature races. One of those started in a time of uncertainty for one of the sport’s biggest stars but ultimately resulted in a new member of IndyCar’s core nucleus of drivers.

In the fall of 2008, Helio Castroneves and his sister were charged with tax evasion and were forced to face a trial in Miami, which would cause the then two-time Indianapolis 500 winner to miss the start of the 2009 season.

Before the trial began, Team Penske had made the decision to bring in Australian driver Will Power to replace Castroneves in the No. 3 machine in the interim.

Power had shown flashes of his ultimate potential with a pair of Champ Car victories in 2007 and a triumph in the series’ finale at Long Beach in 2008.

He had landed at KV Racing Technology following the reunification of the sport, but the chance to drive for the legendary Team Penske – even in a part-time role – was one he couldn’t turn down.

With Castroneves tending to his legal problems, Power drove his No. 3 in the ’09 season opener at St. Petersburg and overcame both a pit road miscue and late contact to finish in sixth place, while then-teammate Ryan Briscoe won the race.

“I think we were on par to have a pretty good strategy today, but just as we pulled in for our first pit stop we had some bad luck with that yellow,” Power said that day. “Plus, I sort of made it hard on our guys by pulling into the wrong pit, but I hung in there and made sure I stayed out of trouble and kept progressing throughout the day.

“I think considering everything that happened out there, bringing the Team Penske car home in sixth is great.”

Power’s efforts ultimately led to more races that year with Penske, including the next one at Long Beach, which saw Castroneves return to the team after being acquitted of his charges.

Despite being moved to a new car – the No. 12 – Power still won the pole and converted it to a runner-up finish at the Beach. Later that year, he pulled off a victory at Edmonton before he suffered season-ending injuries in a practice crash at Sonoma that August.

But he’d done enough. Power was added to the Penske ranks full-time for the 2010 season. And the rest was history.

Since that point, he’s earned 17 more Verizon IndyCar Series victories and has become one of the series’ regular title contenders.

NBCSN begins its coverage of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13. CLICK HERE for the full broadcast schedule.

Latest Posts
  1. Michael Waltrip Racing responds to Kyle Busch’s comments about working together

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:54 AM EST

    Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts - Practice Getty Images

    Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner says his team is working with Joe Gibbs Racing, countering claims Kyle Busch made about the collaboration between the teams.

  2. Bowyer on Gordon: “You’re never good with somebody when it got that ugly”

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:22 AM EST

    Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon

    Clint Bowyer said of his relationship with Jeff Gordon: “You’re never good with somebody when it got that ugly.”

  3. International Speedway Corp. shows strong revenue growth in 2014

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:22 AM EST

    ISC logo

    NASCAR’s parent company, International Speedway Corporation, showed healthy growth in both the fourth quarter of 2014, as well as for the overall 2014 fiscal year, it was announced Tuesday.

  4. NASCAR: Brian Vickers glad to look ahead to racing again after heart surgery

    Jan 27, 2015, 10:59 AM EST

    Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Vickers will be back in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota at Las Vegas in March.

  5. NASCAR: Brett Moffitt to drive Brian Vickers’ No. 55 car at Atlanta

    Jan 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Quicken Loans 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    MWR test driver will compete in Vickers’ car at the second race of the 2015 Sprint Cup season.

  6. NASCAR considers unveiling 2016 rules at Sprint All-Star Race in May

    Jan 26, 2015, 8:45 PM EST

    NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

    NASCAR heavily is considering using the May 16 showcase as a trial run of the rules package for the 2016 season and has begun informing Sprint Cup teams of the possibility.

  7. Indy Lights: Spencer Pigot, Ed Jones top 1st day of Homestead road course test

    Jan 26, 2015, 8:33 PM EST

    IndyLightsLogo

    Quick recap for Day 1 of 3 in South Florida for the Indy Lights contingent.

  8. Kyle Busch says Toyota teams are “idiots” by not working close together

    Jan 26, 2015, 8:06 PM EST

    34th Annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona Getty Images

    Kyle Busch say that he doesn’t see Toyota partners Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing working closely together and that “we’re idiots” for not doing so.

  9. Kyle Busch has a message for those confusing him with his brother

    Jan 26, 2015, 7:04 PM EST

    Kyle Busch Kyle Busch

    Kyle Busch is not pleased with those who have confused him with his brother in reporting on Kurt Busch’s recent court matter.

  10. NASCAR: Joe Gibbs Racing prepares for new era as 4-car team (VIDEO)

    Jan 26, 2015, 6:05 PM EST

    NASCAR Sprint Media Tour  - Day 1 Getty Images

    Will its expansion help or hurt its hopes of a Sprint Cup title?

  11. Cast your vote: Which Joe Gibbs Racing driver will have the best season in 2015?

    Jan 26, 2015, 4:54 PM EST

    Joe Gibbs Racing's roster for 2015 (from left): Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Xfinity Series driver Daniel Suarez and Kyle Busch. AP

    Which Joe Gibbs Racing driver will have the best season in 2015? Newcomer Carl Edwards, or Matt Kenseth, or JGR stalwarts Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin?

  12. Brian France: State of NASCAR is in a good place and getting better

    Jan 26, 2015, 4:38 PM EST

    bzf media day 2015 Getty Images

    After last year’s exciting Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR chairman Brian France painted a very positive state of the sport Monday. There are still challenges, but NASCAR is working at fixing those.

  13. NASCAR not looking to expand four-car limit for teams

    Jan 26, 2015, 4:05 PM EST

    Brian France News Conference Brian France News Conference

    NASCAR Chairman Brian France says series officials are not looking to eliminate the four-car limit for teams.

  14. NASCAR: No early exit expected for title sponsor Sprint

    Jan 26, 2015, 3:58 PM EST

    Sprint All-Star Race Getty Images

    The wireless communications company already has announced its departure after the end of its contract in 2016

  15. NASCAR: Drive For Diversity class of ’15 announced; update on Daytona Rising

    Jan 26, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    nascar logo 2014 Getty Images

    Devon Amos, Jay Beasley, Collin Cabre, Natalie Decker, Kenzie Ruston, and Dylan Smith part of this year’s D4D program; an update on Daytona Rising renovation project.

  16. Hendrick Motorsports pit coach leaves sport

    Jan 26, 2015, 3:22 PM EST

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    Greg Morin, a pit coach overseeing the crews of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., is leaving his position after January.

  17. NASCAR outlaws the practice of flared fender side skirts

    Jan 26, 2015, 3:08 PM EST

    NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell Getty Images

    NASCAR has outlawed the practice of teams manipulating — or flaring out — of rear side skirts to produce an aerodynamic advantage.

  18. F1: Bottas, then Massa in new Williams FW37 at Jerez test

    Jan 26, 2015, 1:25 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi Getty Images

    The Grove gang reveals its lineup for the first F1 preseason test of 2015.

  19. NASCAR: GameStop in for 10 races on Erik Jones’ XFINITY ride with Gibbs

    Jan 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    DAV 200 - Honoring America's Veterans Getty Images

    Video game retail company continues support of Joe Gibbs Racing’s XFINITY Series program.

  20. F1: Ferrari reveals official name for 2015 car – the SF15-T

    Jan 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EST

    Italy F1 Ferrari Vettel AP

    Official launch of the new car is set for Friday.

Video from NASCAR America

Joe Gibbs is ecstatic about Carl Edwards
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (2127)
  2. K. Schrader (1728)
  3. J. Clements (1684)
  4. K. Grala (1651)
  5. S. Gallagher (1606)
  1. R. Hornaday Jr. (1549)
  2. M. Lira (1536)
  3. M. Waltrip (1493)
  4. B. Scott (1459)
  5. B. Vickers (1438)