If there is any IndyCar team that you’d think might be all sunshine and lollipops, it would be Team Penske. Seven races in, Simon Pagenaud is first in points, followed closely by Helio Castroneves, with Juan Pablo Montoya in sixth, just four points out of fourth place. Pagenaud has three wins and four poles, Castroneves has two poles, Montoya has a win – what’s to complain about?
Oh, yeah. Will Power. The highest-strung of the four Penske drivers, Power is having a miserable season, a distant 12th in points and only one pole to keep him from turning suicidal. Power won the championship in 2014, and finished third in points in 2015 after what he thought was a trying season, but turns out he hadn’t seen anything yet.
Simmering team unrest turned to boil Saturday in race one of the Chevrolet Belle Isle Dual at Detroit after an on-track incident between Power and Montoya. Montoya finished third, Power finished 20th, of 22 cars.
In the after-race press conference, Montoya said of the on-track incident, which amounted to an uncalled-for squeeze play that was more an annoyance than a crisis: “Power is a little desperate right now for results,” Montoya said. “He actually nearly ruined my race, but I was smart enough to know how aggressive and how far he’s willing to go. It’s kind of crazy, but it’s his choice.”
Fortunately, Power wasn’t there. It wasn’t so much what Montoya said, it was how he said it – in such a dismissive way that you’d have thought he was brushing off a pesky mosquito.
Or a Penske mosquito.
But as we all know, one win for Power and everybody’s happy again. We’ll see if, and when, that happens – maybe this afternoon at the second Dual in Detroit race.