WEST ALLIS, Wis. – Prior to Sunday’s ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers the only type of race course that Will Power had yet to conquer was a short oval – a track one-mile or less in length.
He had established himself as IndyCar’s “King of the Road” by dominating the street and road courses from 2009 to 2012 and scored his first oval victory at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012 following that with a convincing win on a superspeedway at California’s Auto Club Speedway in last year’s season-finale.
But a victory on a short oval had eluded the driver from Toowoomba, Australia and that may have been the final ingredient necessary to win a championship.
That is why Power’s decisive victory in Sunday’s race at The Milwaukee Mile was so important. It crossed off the only type of track Power had never won and it gave him a 39-point lead over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves with just two races remaining.
“It feels great,” Power said. “I really love winning on ovals. It’s become my favorite tracks. This year every oval we have gone to we’ve been good. At Texas I had so much fun and should have won that race except for a bloody drive-through. At Pocono I felt we should have won that race as well but had another drive-through. The same with Indianapolis. I really enjoy the ovals. They are great fun.”
What makes the IndyCar Series championship unique is the champion has to excel on street courses, permanent road courses, short ovals, intermediate ovals and superspeedways.
“I think you have to attack every track, no matter what it is and know you have a chance to win,” Power said. “That is how you become a champion. I am very determined to have that happen this year.
“I’ve been in this situation before. The difference is I don’t have a weakness any more. In past year’s the ovals have been a detriment but last year I was strong on the ovals and this year even stronger. I have the whole package. Now, it’s about executing on the race weekend. There is no doubt in your mind you can do it. I know I can do it. I have to be very focused and get the job done. I have the confidence to do that, for sure.”
It was also a “Power-ful” performance by the driver who led four times for 229 laps in the 250-lap contest to score his third Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season. It was the 24th IndyCar win of his career tying him with Bobby Rahal and Ralph DePalma for 16th on the all-time list.
He defeated teammate Juan Pablo Montoya by 2.794 seconds and gives him tremendous confidence heading into the home stretch of the championship battle.
“It’s a race I had in my mind all year that I wanted to win,” Power said. “Last year I had a very strong car and wasn’t in the championship hunt. I had Helio Castroneves in front of me so I didn’t want to make a move so today was a perfect day. I was very determined to have a very good race car here and that is what we got.”
Power started on the pole and only gave up the lead during pit stops. The race was slowed by just one caution period from 131 to 139 after Carlos Munoz hit the wall.
Except for an instance in the race where he was challenged by eventual third-place finisher Tony Kanaan and later with Montoya, Power’s Dallara-Chevrolet was the class of the field.
“It was a good battle there for a few laps with T.K., going side-by-side,” Power recalled. “Once you get to traffic, you’ve got to be able to get through it, which was difficult today. Definitely at the end my car was good through traffic. Juan was closing. I pushed hard to get through a couple of guys and get a gap, which I was able to do. I wasn’t quite as good in traffic.
“Yeah, they were serious threats, for sure. We just made the right calls with not pitting, confident in the tires. Even though they were only 10 laps old, I felt we could hold off T.K. on old tires.
“It was just one of those days where you start the race, kind of like Texas, you start the race on pole, you wonder how good the car is going to be. It keeps unwinding all the way to the end. You realize you got a really good car. A day like that. Obviously in Texas we didn’t finish it off, but here we did.”