Realistically, it’s win or bust for Will Power this weekend in Brazil

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It’s not worth mincing words: Will Power needs to win this weekend in Sao Paulo (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).

Power has gone more than a full calendar year, albeit only over by a few days, since his win at Brazil last year. That was his most recent win in IZOD IndyCar Series competition. The Verizon Team Penske driver has also gone a perfect three-for-three in winning at Sao Paulo, so that helps.

This year, a cartoon anvil has seemingly chased him around the first three races.

JR Hildebrand made a goofy mistake in St. Pete, crashing into Power’s right rear wheel guard under caution.

Power dropped like a stone in Barber on the start and only restart of the day and wound up a disheartening fifth, and needed a caution to make his strategy work.

Then in Long Beach, he was running fine before contact with Tristan Vautier in the pits cost him a right rear wheel guard again, and affected his straight line speed.

Earlier this year, Power described the competition level as “phenomenal,” because “one session you can be first, then you don’t gain enough in the next and you’re 16th.”

That it may be but if Power doesn’t get the job done this weekend, you’d think his next best chance would be the doubleheader weekend on the streets of Detroit, June 1-2. The oval stretch of the schedule comes after Brazil, with Detroit the only interruption.

Of Power’s 18 career wins (IndyCar and Champ Car combined), only one (Texas 2011 race 2) has come on an oval. He is the acknowledged road and street course master and until he breaks his duck on ovals, he’ll still have that stigma attached.

Or, for all we know, he could turn into an oval demon and win three or four oval races in the stretch between Indianapolis and Pocono, and pretty much turn the IndyCar world on its head.

Given the way this year has transpired, where there have already been two first-time winners and eight podium finishers of a possible nine, none of whom named Will Power or Dario Franchitti, would that be so far-fetched after all?

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.