DETROIT (AP) — Will Power spoke calmly and nonchalantly. It was hard to tell if he was trying to keep an even keel or if he was just exhausted.
“You have to just try to keep the emotion as low as possible because you use so much when you are racing, so trying to keep these next two days as low as I can,” Power said. “I’m not a hyper type of person.”
As low key as Power can be, his victory at the Indianapolis 500 last weekend certainly brought out the exuberant side of his personality when he kept screaming during the celebration after the race. It was a different Power who was on hand Thursday for a media luncheon prior to this weekend’s twin IndyCar races on Detroit’s Belle Isle.
Power is now trying to shift his attention away from the Indy triumph. He has other, season-long goals in mind.
“Still focused on winning the whole season championship,” he said.
The last time the Indy 500 winner went on to win the IndyCar points title was in 2010, when Dario Franchitti did it. Juan Pablo Montoya nearly pulled it off in 2015 but lost the season title on a tiebreaker to Scott Dixon.
Power tops the standings entering this weekend’s races, but only by two points over Alexander Rossi. Power won the series title in 2014. Last weekend was his first Indy 500 victory.
“He’s now an Indy 500 champion, and you can’t take that away from him,” team owner Roger Penske said. “To be a champion and be on that Borg-Warner trophy is certainly something real special.”
Power finished second at Indy in 2015. His victory this year made him the race’s first Australian winner.
“It’s actually an honor to be the first Australian to win the Indy 500. And first Australian to win an IndyCar championship,” he said. “Growing up, it’s basically a childhood dream.”
Power said last weekend was the most excited he’s ever been about winning a race. No surprise there – and he said he became emotional when he saw footage of his wife, Liz, from the final moments.
“Just shows what it meant to us as a family,” he said. “It brought tears to my eyes to watch that, because I know how much it means to her, but it means that much to her because she knows what it means to me and how hard I’ve worked for that.”
The days after an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind. Power has been to New York and Texas, and now he has to race in Michigan both Saturday and Sunday.
“Not much sleep,” he said. “Busy, but well worth it.”
Since 2012, the Belle Isle race has occupied the spot on the IndyCar schedule immediately after the Indy 500. In that span, nobody has won in Detroit after winning at Indy. Franchitti finished second on Belle Isle in 2012 and Takuma Sato had a fourth-place showing last season.
The 2.3-mile street course along the Detroit River presents different challenges than Indy, but Power has long preferred road courses to ovals (at least until this year). He won at Belle Isle in 2014 and 2016, so this is an opportunity for him to take another step forward in his pursuit of a series championship.
No matter where he finishes this weekend, he sounds eager to return to a more normal routine after the post-Indy hoopla.
“Kind of look forward to just getting in the car and focusing forward,” Power said. “Sitting down with my engineer … and talking about the approach this weekend.”