It was Respect for the Aged Day in Japan - a national holiday - and Will Power did his part.
"Mario (Andretti) is the ultimate driver to me," Power said of the legendary Indy car driver who's 41 years his senior. "Even now that he's older, he still gets in a race car and wrings its neck. He just amazes me."
Andretti, who relishes his role as the driver of the "Fast Seat in Sports" two-seater a select IZOD IndyCar Series races, would appreciate the compliment from the driver who for the second consecutive year earned the road/street course trophy named in his honor. Andretti amassed 52 open-wheel racing victories under USAC (33) and CART (19) sanction, including the 1969 Indianapolis 500. Among other statistical accolades is a streak of 16 seasons with at least one victory.
The Mario Andretti Road Trophy is award to the driver whose point production is highest on the 10 road/street courses during the season. Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, wrapped up the title in the Indy Japan with a runner-up finish.
"To win an award with his name on it is a real honor," Power continued. "Now two years in a row I'm very happy about it. I think in order to win the championship you almost have to win it."
Of Power's six victories this season, five have been on streets/roads, including back-to-back wins at Infineon and Baltimore to pump up his overall championship point total. Entering the Indy Japan on the 2.983-mile, 14-turn road course five points arrears of Dario Franchitti, he emerged with an 11-point advantage heading into the final two races of the season (on the Kentucky Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway ovals).
Additionally, 19 of Power's road/street course points have been courtesy of bonuses for seven pole starts (seven points) and leading the most laps in six of the 10 (12 points) races.
"It's great to win it two years in a row," he said. "It was a good weekend all around to wrap that up and also gain the points lead. Not that I'm thinking about points. All I'm thinking about is beating the 10 car every race we got left."
The A.J. Foyt Oval Trophy will be awarded to the oval championship point leader following the Oct. 2 Kentucky Indy 300 at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval. Scott Dixon holds a 17-point lead over Franchitti, his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate.
Mario Andretti's 52 open-wheel victories (33 USAC, 19 CART)
Location of first win: Indianapolis Raceway Park (July 25, 1965).
Championships: 1965, 1966, 1969 USAC champion. 1984 CART champion.
• Won nine races during 1969 USAC championship season.
• Sixteen seasons with at least one victory.
• First on all-time list with 67 pole starts (36 USAC, 29 CART).
• Earned seven consecutive pole positions in 1965-66 USAC seasons.
• Won 25 times from the pole position.
• First on all-time list with 7,595 laps led in USAC, CART.
• Had 56 runner-up finishes, including 11 times in the 1968 USAC season.
• Had 144 top-three finishes in career (1964-94).
• Had 16 top-three finishes and 19 top-five finishes in 1968 USAC season.
1960s (won four consecutive races in '66 and '67; 9 wins in '69)
1965: Indianapolis Raceway Park
1966: Milwaukee, Langhorne, Atlanta, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Milwaukee2, Indianapolis Raceway Park 2, Trenton, Phoenix
1967: Trenton, Indianapolis Raceway Park, Langhorne, Mont Tremblant1, Mont Tremblant2, Milwaukee, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Phoenix
1968: Mont Tremblant1, Mt. Tremblant2, DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Trenton
1969: Hanford Motor Speedway, Indianapolis 500, Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Nazareth, Trenton, Illinois State Fairgrounds, Trenton2, Seattle International Raceway, Riverside International.
1970: Continental Divide Raceway
1980s (won season opener in four of five years, 19884-88; swept Michigan in '84)
1988: Phoenix, Cleveland
1987: Long Beach, Road America
1986: Portland, Pocono
1985: Long Beach, Milwaukee, Portland
1984: Long Beach, Meadowlands, Michigan1, Road America, Mid-Ohio, Michigan2
1983: Road America, Caesar's Palace (Las Vegas)
Will Power's 15 open-wheel victories (Champ Car, INDYCAR)
Location of first win: Streets of Las Vegas (April 8, 2007)
• Started from pole eight times in 2010.
• Started from pole in first five road/street course races of 2011, and seven times overall.
• Has 56 top-10 finishes in 85 races.
2007: Streets of Las Vegas, Toronto
2008: Long Beach
2010: Sao Paulo, St. Petersburg, Watkins Glen, Toronto, Infineon
2011: Barber Motorsports Park, Sao Paulo, Texas2, Edmonton, Infineon, Baltimore