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.
* 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.”