Road king Power seeks redemption at Infineon
Will Power left Infineon Raceway in 2009 in a medical helicopter - the result of a scary practice crash with Nelson Philippe that left the Australian with a broken back.
When he returns to Northern California for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma later this month, he'll return a champion.
Power wrapped the inaugural Mario Andretti Road Course Trophy with his second-place finish in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 8 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He'll receive his road course championship prize from the trophy's namesake - Mario Andretti - on Aug. 22.
"Getting the trophy from one of racing's legends will be very special," Power said. "I really want to win at Infineon after what happened last year. I was going into that weekend expecting to be at the front. To get that trophy will be a very good feeling, but it will be an even better feeling to get the trophy and have a good result."
Power's recovery time was spent wondering if he would be able to regain the speed that he was just beginning to show in his limited campaign with Penske Racing in 2009. He had claimed his first win with the team a few weeks before the crash.
"I did wonder if I was going to be as fast as I was," Power said. "Once I got back into the car at the first test, I knew it was going to be OK."
A confident Power took to the 2010 season with that assurance and quickly showed he was back and ready to contend for the title and pay back Roger Penske's confidence in him and the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.
He won at Brazil, St. Petersburg and finished on the podium at Long Beach to build a nearly insurmountable lead by the time the IZOD IndyCar Series established the road course title.
Wins followed at Watkins Glen and Toronto and runner-up finishes Edmonton and Mid-Ohio cemented Power as the series' "King of the Road."
"The key was winning, actually," he said. "In any championship, winning makes a huge difference, but so does consistency. I've had a very strong team around me all year and two very good teammates that have helped me a lot. I've had a good run."
With one goal complete, Power can turn his attention to a much bigger prize - his first IZOD IndyCar Series championship. He leads by 41 points heading to Sonoma - the final road course on the schedule but knows he can't lose the focus that helped him gain both the road course crown and his championship points lead.
"We've got our sights set on winning the overall championship," Power said. "That's what I've been aiming for all year. You can't think too far ahead in the championship. That's how I've approached every race this year. You are aware in your head of the points, and you always want to win, but sometimes you have to drive accordingly to cover the big picture."