INDYCAR: Power back in form at opportune time

INDYCAR: Power back in form at opportune time

IndyCar

INDYCAR: Power back in form at opportune time

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The maniacal look that defined Will Power’s time with Team Penske through the 2014 season is back. With an old-school stomping on Sunday by Power in Road America, two wins on the trot, and a sharp launch up the championships standings from seventh to third, IndyCar’s speed demon has put a rocky start to bed at the most opportune time.

The 2014 series champ has his sights set on knocking down the rest of the field with seven races left to run, and it has become a legitimate ambition to pursue. Breaking a yearlong winless streak at Detroit was awesome for Power on a personal level, but it was little more than a feel-good story in the greater context of a 16-race championship.

But with a follow-up win at Road America and a bunch of tracks coming up that are a perfect fit for Power to continue his midseason resurgence, there’s every reason to believe the Australian is capable of adding more victories on the trail to Sonoma’s season finale.

If Power wants to add a second title to a prolific list of open-wheel accomplishments, it will have to come at the expense of teammates Helio Castroneves and points leader Simon Pagenaud, and some other serious talent.

“I’ve just been holding on and doing what I could to start the season, and now it’s starting to become competitive,” Power told RACER. “You look at that second back to fifth or sixth [in points] is really tight. All these guys that are in those positions keep having good days or horrible days; no one’s having a run like Simon had earlier in the season.

“Now’s the time to be the guy to have that type of run. At the end of the day, you have to keep finishing ahead of the guy that has the most points. That’s it. It’s the only way you’re going to win it. We need to knuckle down and do our thing.”

Power’s confidence took quite a few hits in the opening stages of the 2016 championship as physical maladies sapped his stamina, and with a crash in practice at St. Petersburg, he claimed zero points to open his championship point bank account. The restoration of his physical fitness has, as Detroit and Road America proved, been interwoven with a sharp rise in competitiveness.

But as Power reveals, getting to that point of scoring back-to-back wins only came after digging out of a rather deep hole – one that included questions of whether retirement could be a necessity.

“The thing that was missing, the thing that was frustrating me the most, is I couldn’t use my ability and I couldn’t do anything about it,” he said of the food allergies and inner ear infection that prevented fitness training. “I just didn’t have the energy; I couldn’t do it. There’s nothing worse … is this it? Am I going to stop racing if I can’t get my health in order? I finally got on top of it and feel somewhat normal.

“When I was feeling bad, I would always say, if I’m feeling good, I know I can win races, I know I can get poles, and I know I can win races. I’ve just got to feel all right; I’ve got to have energy. I know what I can do; I’ve [won] 27 times. It’s never any doubt what I can do in my mind.”

Iowa, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Pocono, Texas, Watkins Glen … Sonoma; Power has a schedule in front of him that could propel his No. 12 Chevy into the middle of the title fight, and he knows it.

“It will be interesting to see what can happen,” he said before sending a gentle message to those that stand in his way. “Leads can dwindle pretty quickly.”

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