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MONTEREY, Calif. — Will Power learned to trust the instincts of his wife Liz, who always seems to know when her husband, a two-time IndyCar champion, comes to a defining moment in his career.
“She has good intuition,” the Aussie said in his typically funny understatement.
Or maybe a better way to frame it might be that she has an uncanny knack for predicting the future.
There was the time in 2008 when Liz talked Will out of the only racing contract he had for the following season, insisting an opportunity would crop up out of the blue with an IndyCar powerhouse. When Will won the biggest race of his life in 2018, Liz (a worrier who admits “I don’t hide it very well”) was serene throughout May expecting a victory at the Indy 500 was imminent.
So when Power began to worry in February while standing in the kitchen of their Troutman, North Carolina home a week before the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season opener, Liz naturally delivered. another uplifting premonition of clarity, confidence and inner peace.
This would be the year Will broke Mario Andretti’s mark for career pole positions and won his second title.
“He was getting nervous, obviously like pre-nervous stage fright before the start of a season,” Liz told NBC Sports. “I said to him, ‘Will, I know you’re going to break his record. You’re going to do it. And I sincerely believe you’re going to win the championship too. You’re going to do it in a big way. I just know that.
“And so throughout the year as well, I kept telling him, when he got nervous and a little depressed, I was like, ‘I know you do! I don’t know why I know you do it, but I know you do it!’ ”
During a memorable weekend on the Monterey Peninsula, it all came true – again.
One day after getting his 68e Career pole position to break the mark of a racing legend, Power capped the closest championship battle in 20 years with another title by finishing third in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Although he was a jumble of nerves and woke up in the middle of the night a few times last week, he was calm after strapping himself into his #12 Dallara-Chevrolet and remembering what what Liz had said.
“It actually gave me confidence,” Will said. “That’s how much I trust her instincts. It kind of made me feel, ‘OK, yeah, she’s said things like that before.’ Man, everything has to be fine. But deep down I know how life goes sometimes, and I kind of thought it could happen.
It’s the same approach Liz took when Will signed a deal to compete in the all-new A1GP series in the fall of 2008.
Liz worked for IndyCar team owner Derrick Walker, who had his sights set on A1GP’s financial troubles as a consultant. Despite his warnings that it was “a bad call”, Will signed with the series because he had no IndyCar prospects (despite winning the Champ Car Finals at Long Beach). Two days later, he had second thoughts and Liz worked her magic.
Sometimes she has similar intuitions about things that don’t involve her husband’s career, but she always follows her mother’s advice: follow your instincts.
“Another weird feeling of mine,” she laughed as she recalled the events that led Will to his dream job. “I said, ‘If you sign it, getting back into IndyCar is going to be very tough, and how do you know a seat in Ganassi isn’t going to come up, or a seat in Penske. He said: ‘There’s no way that’s going to happen.’ I said, ‘No, you don’t!’ Fortunately, he got away with it. »
A month later, Helio Castroneves was arrested for tax evasion, and Roger Penske suddenly needed a backup plan if Castroneves was unavailable to start the 2009 season.
Will was packing his bags back to Australia one evening when the phone rang.
“We think, ‘OK, that’s not going to happen,'” Liz recalled. “He gets the call, and I’m lying on the couch, and I pop up when I hear him say, ‘Oh hey, Roger!’ I hopped up and down, and as soon as he hung up, I was like, ‘I told you so! I knew I was right!
“So he always hates it because every time I’m like, ‘You should listen to me more often!’ ”
Will will likely take those cues more often after last weekend. He still speaks with admiration of how Liz sparked her life-saving move to Penske.
“It was strange, unbelievable,” he said. “She actually talked me out of that (A1GP) contract. It just blew my mind. How could she know? She didn’t know. She just felt that.