Team Penske’s Will Power will be back behind the wheel of the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet for next weekend’s Phoenix Grand Prix, as the Verizon IndyCar Series announced on Wednesday that Power has been medically cleared to return to competition after he was held out just days ago. The 2014 IndyCar series champion joined reporters including IndyCar Examiner Wednesday morning to discuss his eventful weekend.
“It’s great to be cleared to get back in the car again. That’s the best medicine you can have,” Power told the media, after IndyCar officials now say he did not suffer a concussion – as was previously confirmed – but adverse effects from a pre-existing inner-ear infection that his strategist Tim Cindric revealed in a statement earlier this week.
“On Friday after the crash, I was okay,” Power continued, referencing the practice incident that saw him hit a wall on the St. Petersburg street course and started all the health concerns. “But I got out, felt fine, got in the car, felt fine, did practice, and then it was that night that I started started to have some of these symptoms. That continued on into Saturday and got worse, and then it came to the point where I had to say something to the medical staff.
“Before qualifying I wasn’t feeling very good, and I wasn’t sure whether I should do it or not,” he said. “I was kind of keeping it to myself, and I just thought, I’ll just go out [and] see how it is, and did one lap on black tires, and then just kind of went from there and just kept it short. I just really was just doing one more lap and a lap and then pitting. But I wasn’t feeling good at that point.”
He and Cindric, who joined Power on the call, confirmed that Power’s status for Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was never up for debate. The driver was so ill that he would not have competed in the race under any circumstances.
“There was never a point where there was any disagreement about racing or not racing,” Cindric said. “I think the only discussion on Sunday morning was whether or not he should do one or two laps just to see how he feels in the car versus having a real run…With or without the diagnosis or whatever or any of the doctors’ orders on Sunday, he wasn’t going to drive.”
That’s obviously for the best, as IndyCar and its teams have always prioritized the well-being of everyone involved and you certainly want one of the league’s top drivers to have all the recovery time that he needs. Fans will no doubt be relieved to hear that Power does not have a more serious injury.
However, it still has to be concerning to some extent that he went through three different diagnoses – the original thought was that he had a stomach virus prior to the concussion protocol – before the right one was found. If the situation had been more serious, certainly that’s not something that you want to have happen.
How is Power doing now, having skipped St. Petersburg and this week’s test day at Barber Motorsports Park?
“My inner ear is feeling better,” he said. “I don’t have headaches or nausea, and I’ll be testing Barber next Tuesday to make up for the test. That’ll be good, to get back in the car.”
“As far as everything, the way it all turned out, it couldn’t have turned out any other way, really, when you have all those symptoms and the way I felt,” he concluded. “Obviously missing the first race is [a] big points hit, but it is what it is, and you know, move forward and have fun.”
Power will return to the grid for the Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ on Saturday, Apr. 2. Tickets and full race information are available at the venue’s website. The race will also be televised nationally on NBCSN.