Power back in title hunt and fully fit again

2014 IndyCar champion Will Power says he’s gunning for a second title after winning at Road America on Sunday, and says he’s overcome his fitness issues.

Power back in title hunt and fully fit again
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet detail
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet detail
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Podium: race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, second place Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, third place Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

The Team Penske-Chevrolet driver led from pole position to checkered flag today, aside from the pitstop sequences, and scored his second victory of the season, and 27th of his career.

Power, who after taking pole for the season opener at St. Petersburg, had to miss the race because of an inner ear infection, has now jumped to third in the 2016 title race with victory today. He now lies 81 points behind championship leader and teammate Simon Pagenaud, and ahead of reigning champion Scott Dixon, both drivers having suffered disastrous days with engine issues.

Dixon’s Chevrolet expired on lap 7, while Pagenaud fell from second to 13th in the closing laps with an unspecified engine problem.

Said Power: “I was talking championship even before this race. If you look at the points situation, it’s obvious things can change so quickly. At the last race [the double-points finale in Sonoma.] there could be an 80- or 90-point swing if the guy you’re racing has a bad day and you win. And we’ve got seven more races – there’s so many points left and so much to happen.

“Obviously [Simon] Pagenaud has had a very good season up to this point, but that doesn’t continue – it never does. You have your good runs, but it goes in cycles. And I’m very determined to be there at the end. I want to win the championship, simple as that.

“I’m just going out there trying to win races.”  

Fitness has returned

Commenting on the final five-lap shootout following the race’s only caution period, Power said: “You always dread that late restart but I thought ‘I’m going to make the most of it and do the best I can and get the jump.’

“I had push-to-pass in hand which I thought before the race was going to be key here, if you keep that for the end. So that’s what I did. If I didn’t have that, TK [Kanaan] had a really good shot at getting me – he was very quick and he was on reds [soft alternate tires] too.

“So it’s very satisfying because I'm back where I was, and that's a good feeling for me."

Expanding on this topic, Power admitted that his early-season fitness struggles had taken their toll on his qualifying and race results.

He said: “The races have been very green [few yellows] this year and I was so pissed off that I wasn’t fit enough to qualify like I normally do. I wasn’t where I needed to be.

“I usually turn up for a season very fit, but this year I was way off where I normally am. I had some health problems in the off-season which meant I couldn’t train. Some of that was food allergy stuff and a couple of other things.

“There were so many times where we should have challenged for pole and I’d make a mistake, there’d be a penalty, there’d be traffic – so we lost a lot of points. That was a point of the season where I felt I couldn’t use my talent, didn’t quite have the energy to do it.

“But I started building myself back up so I could do my normal regime. I didn’t change anything; I was just able to do it, and now I’m back to my normal fitness level. I’ve got my energy back to where you start getting in the flow of things and feel like you can challenge to win every weekend.”

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