Penske’s Power Poised For Championship

(photo courtesy IZOD IndyCar Series)

The month long drain of Will Power’s championship lead continued when Dario Franchitti scored points for gathering up the pole at the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Power’s lead that stood at a comfortable 59 points prior to the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Aug. 28 has been trimmed to a tenuous 11.  That is a testament to Franchitti’s savvy as a two-time series champion. But Power, who began the season as Team Penske’s least-likely championship candidate, insists he is not wheeling from a position of high anxiety in South Florida.

“Actually, (I’ve) been quite relaxed,” said Power, 29, seeking his first championship during his first full season of driving for open-wheel icon Roger Penske.  “I remember the race in Japan (Sept. 19), I said to Roger, ‘I feel very kind of relaxed about the whole thing.’ ”

Power went into the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi with a 17 point lead over Franchitti. Power’s third-place finish, part of a Penske 1-2-3 sweep featuring race-winner Helio Castroneves and runnerup Ryan Briscoe, left him 12 points ahead of fourth-place Franchitti heading into the season-finale.

Power emerged as the series’ street/road-course ace with five victories this season, but has yet to visit Victory Lane at an oval. His third-place run at Twin Ring Motegi was Power’s best result during a three-race stretch on varied 1.5-mile ovals that included finishes of 16th at Chicagoland Speedway and eighth at Kentucky Speedway.

Tonight, Power will start directly behind Franchitti, of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, as the Scotsman bids to tie Sam Hornish Jr.’s record of three series championships. Power recorded the third-fastest two-lap qualifying run on Friday at 212.580 mph. Franchitti’s pole-winning effort of 213.187 mph in the No. 10 Dallara/Honda earned him that precious bonus point.

There are a number of scenarios by which Power can clinch, foremost by finishing ahead of his lone title competitor in the field of 27. Basically, Power needs to finish in front of Franchitti or at least stay within one position of his rival at the end of the race, unless Franchitti wins and scores another two bonus points for leading the most laps.

So the last race of the 2010 season, from Homestead-Miami Speedway, should prove to be a very exciting race to determine just who will walk away the 2010 IndyCar Series champion!


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