26 August 2014
IndyCar: Power focused on finale, not Sonoma stumble
IndyCar points leader Will Power says he is concentrating his thoughts on this weekend's championship finale, rather than dwelling on Sunday's missed opportunity.
Current Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Will Power isn't about to lose any sleep over what could have been at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday.
If anything, three consecutive unfulfilled title years has taught Power that such mental anguish is wasteful if not debilitating, so the 33-year old Austrailian will quietly take his tenth-place finish in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, and carry a 51-point advantage into the MAVTV 500 finale at Auto Club Speedway this coming weekend.
Power, who started the penultimate race of the season on pole, led a field-high 33 laps at Sonoma. He could have effectively wrapped up his first series title, but a spin on cold tyres after a restart midway through the 85-lap race left the door ajar for Team Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves to remain in the championship fight as it goes to the final race for the ninth straight season.
To complete his bid in the double-points finale, Castroneves would need to win and Power place eighth or worse in the day-night 500-miler, but Power is focusing all his emotions on making sure the dream does not materialise.
"We maintained the points lead, and we're going to Fontana," said Power, who increased the advantage over Castroneves by twelve points through what was a disappointing outing for both drivers.
The Aussie was in control and looking to win at Sonoma for the fourth time in the past five years before the #12 Verizon Team Penske car spun in traffic exiting the slow-speed turn seven right-hander. He lost eight positions on the lap but didn't create further tumult by panicking. After pitting for fresh tyres on lap 61, Power steadily made up ground in the race that featured 20 cars on the lead lap.
"That was a good recovery there," he said, "We had such a fast car, but that's the way IndyCar racing goes."
Castroneves, who started sixth in the #3 Hitachi Team Penske car, was involved in a multi-car incident less than 30 seconds into the race and also had contact on lap 36. He limped in 18th, but still retains a distant shot at the crown.
“Anything can happen," acknowledged the Brazilian, who also is seeking his first series title after finishing second or third five times, "We are not giving up. We will keep on it and give everything we have next weekend to try and reach our goal. We are still in it and we know what we need to do now over the 500 miles."
The title fight isn't just about two men, however, as Simon Pagenaud advanced a dozen positions relative to his starting spot to finish third in the #77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, which kept him in contention, albeit 81 points back. Race runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, and 2013 champion Scott Dixon, the Sonoma race winner, also are mathematically eligible until Power takes the green flag for what he hopes will be a triumphant evening after three years of heartache.
"I've just got to focus on the job at hand and get the most out of every situation," said Power, who scored his first superspeedway victory in the 2013 finale at Auto Club Speedway from the pole.
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