Team Penske has admitted that Will Power's future programme in this year's IndyCar Series remains undecided after the Australian was forced to give up the #3 Dallara following Helio Castroneves' acquittal on tax evasion charges.
Power had been drafted in as team-mate to countryman Ryan Briscoe during Castroneves' trial, and would have replaced the Brazilian full-time had he been found guilty, but is now looking at a limited programme at best.
He is currently slated for just two events, this weekend in Long Beach and next month in Indianapolis - both with the #12 Verizon Wireless-sponsored Dallara - but the team has confirmed that all other events remain questionable in the current economic climate. The first oval event of the season - and the only one before Indianapolis - comes in Kansas next week, and team president Tim Cindric has said that, at this point, there were no plans for Power to run.
"But, with us, you never know," he told the media in Long Beach, "As we sit here today, it's always subject to change. This time last year, we were focusing on Helio's dancing and, this year, we were focusing on Helio's trial. I hope next year, at this time, there's something more positive on which to focus."
"We haven't run three cars for quite a while, and it's been a bit of a mixed bag and a moving yardstick for us. I've heard nothing but support for Helio, and I can't say enough about Will and the task he's had with all the 'maybes' and 'what abouts'. I don't want to speculate on what will happen with him."
Cindric also admitted that he wasn't sure about further Verizon sponsorship.
"Our plate if pretty full right now," he noted, "Lots can happen between now and May. We're playing it a race at a time and focusing on May. Look at Will - our position is that, if he was going to run for us, it's an opportunity for the team to get to work with the guy and the growing pains before we get into May. This year is a short schedule the first week, so it is a big advantage for all of us preparing for a third car at Indy."
Power admitted that he was well aware that his season could be cut short by the jury presiding over Castroneves' case in Miami, but insisted that he was delighted to see the Brazilian back in harness.
"I'm very happy for Helio and his family - I can't imagine what it might be alike," he commented, "I knew the situation and none of this is a surprise, the team keep me well informed. I'm excited to be driving the #12 car and in the Indy 500 - it's a first class team, and I loved working with these guys. I appreciate the way it's all played out."