Aussie return a way off for IndyCar star

Ed Jackson
·3-min read

With the United States still very much in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christmas and the IndyCar off-season is a different experience for Australian driver Will Power.

Normally the Toowoomba product would return to Queensland at some point during his break to spend rare face-to-face time with his parents Bob and Margaret and his three brothers.

But this is 2020 and things are far from normal.

Travelling to and from the US is basically a non-starter as the country goes past 17 million COVID cases and more than 315,000 deaths.

Even though Power's home state of North Carolina hasn't been as badly hit as some others in the country, it still has had over 470,000 cases and almost 6300 deaths.

The situation means Christmas for Power this year will be a low-key affair with his wife Liz and their son Beau - who turned four on Sunday.

"Usually we have it in Texas or up in Charlotte and I'll go home to Australia just after the season," the 39-year-old Power told AAP.

"Unfortunately I really will miss seeing my family back in Australia. I really will.

"As your parents get older you want to make sure you get back there at least once a year.

"I'm not going to see them until after this next season, unless things loosen up a little and they're able to come over here.

"The way it is right now, I couldn't take the risk of going back to Australia and then everything being locked down, not being able to get back and potentially miss some races.

"I have to stay here and we're going to have it here in Charlotte, not going anywhere actually."

Just getting to the off-season was a challenge for the IndyCar field, in a year heavily disrupted by the pandemic.

Organisers had to cancel 10 races, reschedule five more and find five replacement races before New Zealand's Scott Dixon emerged triumphant with his sixth Indycar crown.

Power finished fifth, winning two races and finishing on the podium in three more.

The 2014 series champion's undoing was in those events where he couldn't get into the podium places, slipping outside the top 10 in seven races.

Those hiccups ensured Power was never realistically in the hunt for a second career championship but it remains a goal as he heads into his 13th year as an IndyCar driver, with the 2021 campaign starting with the Grand Prix of St Petersburg in Florida in March.

"It's been too many years now in a row that we, not that we start off weak, not that we start off badly as far as speed or performance, it's just our bad days are too bad," he said.

"We absolutely have the speed and the performance to do it. We just cannot have those big mistakes ... multiple of them were while we were in a position to win.

"Then you just dig yourself in a hole and it's tough from there.

"Certainly have the speed, probably more speed than anyone in the whole field.

"Just got to get it together.

"That's our goal.

"We've talked about it and we want to make it right, and get it right, this season."