Power poised for glory

Will Power has his eyes on the prize, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

WILL Power left Sonoma in Cal­i­for­nia last year on a stretcher. This year he left as run­away favourite for the IndyCar World Se­ries crown.

The crash at In­fi­neon Race­way in 2009 that could have ended his ca­reer with a bro­ken back was, in­stead, the cat­a­lyst for an in­cred­i­ble run through the 2010 sea­son with the bench­mark Penske Rac­ing squad.

Power has been the man to beat since he inked a full-time deal with Roger Penske, tak­ing eight pole po­si­tions and five wins al­ready this year in a se­ries where his clos­est ri­val has only two vic­to­ries.

The trans­planted Queens­lan­der has al­ready claimed the Mario An­dretti Tro­phy, in­tro­duced this year for the most suc­cess­ful IndyCar driver through the cham­pi­onship’s road­course races.

He also has a 59-point lead over reign­ing cham­pion Dario Fran­chitti with four races to run, but he’s not tak­ing a safety-first ap­proach on the high-speed ovals that close the sea­son.

‘‘I’m go­ing to race those ovals like I want to win the cham­pi­onship,’’ Power says.

‘‘I think I’ve got enough ex­pe­ri­ence now and I think we’ll be very strong.

‘‘I’m go­ing for it. I want to win the cham­pi­onship and I want to win an oval be­fore the year is out and this over­all cham­pi­onship.’’

An­dretti sees Power’s strengths and knows he will be tough to beat, even if his best oval-track re­sult this year is fifth.

‘‘Right now, he’s on a roll and God bless him. It’s won­der­ful to see,’’ An­dretti says. ‘‘You have to en­joy it while you can; it never lasts long.’’

The 70-year-old motorsport leg­end also knows the chal­lenge to come.

‘‘Even though he has the points lead, you don’t rest, and that’s the beauty of IndyCar. To win the cham­pi­onship, you have to be pro­fi­cient on all sides of what it has to of­fer.

‘‘That’s what I re­ally en­joy about the se­ries since it started hav­ing the mix (in 2005) of ovals and road cour­ses. As a driver, that al­ways was the ul­ti­mate chal­lenge.’’

But Power ad­mits he is happy just to have come back from the in­juries.

‘‘A year ago I was ly­ing in the hos­pi­tal and watch­ing the race in there, so to come back and win it from the pole is just fan­tas­tic,’’ Power says.

Crack­ing pace: (above) Will Power lead­ing team­mate He­lio Cas­tronoves and Dario Fran­chitti and (be­low), re­ceiv­ing the Mario An­dretti Tro­phy as the top road-course IndyCar driver.

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