IndyCar

IndyCar: Could fate finally snap Dixon’s, Rossi’s runs of late? Will Power hopes so

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PORTLAND, Oregon – With two races left in the season and still in contention for the IndyCar championship, Will Power knows what he has to do in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland to still have a shot at the title heading into the season finale in Sonoma in two weeks.

“We simply have to finish ahead of (points leader Scott) Dixon and (second-ranked Alexander) Rossi,” Power said Friday at Portland International Raceway. “There’s just no other two ways about it. That’s what we have to do. If we don’t, we really don’t have a chance at Sonoma.

“That’s what we have to do, and that’s what we’re setting out to do.”

So Power is going to have to defeat Dixon and Rossi – currently 1-2 in the standings – by talent, having a better car and hope for a little luck.

Or bad luck for Dixon and Rossi.

Dixon currently leads Rossi by 26 points, while Power is 68 points back and defending series champ Josef Newgarden is 78 points behind.

If Power can earn the pole during Saturday’s qualifying, it would go a long way towards giving him a leg up on the two drivers he’s chasing.

While IndyCar returns to Portland for the first time since 2007, the track may still be the same 1.964-mile length, but it has changed in a number of ways since the last time Power raced there.

“Ideally we need to be on pole,” Power said.

The reason is simple: If Power starts from the pole, he has a better chance of holding off challenges by Dixon and Rossi than trying to play catch-up if they qualify and start Sunday’s race in a higher position.

“If we’re around them, obviously we’ve got to race them very aggressively, need to get by them at the start or at some point,” Power said. “Yeah, it’s just take it as it comes.

“Obviously no one knows what’s going to happen or how it’s going to play out, but we’ve got to be on our toes and make the right decisions.”

But fate could also play a big part in Sunday’s outcome.

Consider:

* Since finishing second at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in mid-May, Dixon has shown incredible consistency, with three wins (Belle Isle 1, Texas and Toronto), and seven other top-five showings (the only bad result in that stretch was 12th at Iowa) in the last 11 races.

* Also since the Indy Grand Prix (finished fifth), Rossi has been on an equally impressive roll of his own. He’s captured two of his three wins this season (back-to-back triumphs at Mid-Ohio and Pocono), has five other top-five showings in that same stretch (including finishing second last week at Gateway), and two other top-10 finishes.

That’s why Power is putting his faith in fate Sunday afternoon, that both Dixon’s and Rossi’s run of good luck turns bad, at least for one race, allowing Power to close the gap with what he hopes is a strong finish on his own part to allow him one last shot at the championship at Sonoma, which awards double points to drivers.

Power has been having a streak of his own of late, which only strengthens his hope that it’s his turn to overtake Dixon and Rossi: he’s coming off a win last week at Gateway, was second at Pocono and third at Mid-Ohio.

Could the odds go in Power’s favor and against the two guys he’s chasing, particularly Dixon?

“I just know being around racing for so long now, it’s just so rare to have a season without a bad race,” Power said when asked by MotorSportsTalk. “It’s just so rare.

“But you know, eventually if you have enough seasons, maybe that falls into place and maybe that’s what’s happening with Dixon.

“But yeah, you’re right. I mean you have years like that where it all falls into place, but it seems as though you will always have a bad race.

“Maybe that won’t happen this year. Or maybe it will. We need that. I don’t wish anything bad, but if he (Dixon) could just have a bad pit stop or something, that would be nice.”

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister