Power seeks IndyCar history on Road to Miami for Oct. 2 Championship
Ryan Hunter-Reay looks for another strong result similar to his second-place finish at the season opener in Brazil. Hunter-Reay is locked in a three-way tie for second place behind Power (Photo courtesy: Ron McQueeney, IndyCar Media)
After a week off, the IZOD IndyCar Series resumes Sunday in Alabama as Will Power attempts to do what no IndyCar driver ever has done—win the first three races of a season. It’s Race 3 of 17 en route to the IndyCar Series crowning its 2010 Champions at Homestead-Miami Speedway the weekend of Oct. 1-2. For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
With wins at Sao Paulo and St. Pete, the Team Penske pilot is staking his claim for Miami glory. And all of this in recovery from a major back injury suffered last year….
"That's a fantastic start," Power said in looking toward Race 3 at Barber Motorsports Park, where he was the fastest driver during February’s open test. “I don't think you could ask for much better; I don't think there is anything better than winning.
“I'm very happy for the Verizon guys working hard over the winter. And this is my first full season on a good team, so I'm just putting it all together and using my experience over the past four years over here."
Among Power’s competitors for the 2010 crown at Homestead-Miami Speedway Oct. 2: South Florida’s dancing-driver Helio Castroneves, who will be seeking his own glory on his “home track” in Miami; Danica Patrick, who intends to run both IndyCar and NASCAR’s Nationwide series (Nov. 20) in Miami this fall; and former Champions Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon, all of whom rank in the Top 10 of the IndyCar standings. For ticket information on the Championship finale in Miami, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
Power is a believer that he needs to run consistently strong races to win the IndyCar Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway Oct. 2.
"To win a Championship, [you can’t] win two races and then have a heap of bad ones," Power said. "You've got to win as much as you can. You've got to go into every race thinking, 'OK, I've got to win.' But if you can't, you have to make the most of [points opportunities]. That's my thinking."
Regardless of the outcome in Sunday’s race, Power is assured of leaving Alabama with the points lead, as the maximum points any driver can gain each race is 43; Power is 44 points ahead of a three-way tie of South Florida-native Ryan Hunter-Reay, Justin Wilson and defending IndyCar Series Champion Franchitti, who captured the 2009 crown last fall at Homestead-Miami. Castroneves and fellow South Florida-resident Raphael Matos rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in IndyCar’s Championship standings.
Hunter-Reay is hoping to shake off a disappointing finish at St. Petersburg (11th place) to gather back some of the momentum he had after a runner-up finish at the season opener in Brazil. The Boca Raton native struggled during February’s open test at Barber, ranking as the 14th-fastest driver at the test after joining Andretti Autosport in the offseason.
"We learned a lot of what we don't want for the IZOD car, and that is just as valuable as learning what you do want," he said after February’s first laps at this week’s race site. "It was a good test for getting through some things."
While the likes of Hunter-Reay, Matos, Patrick and reigning-champ Franchitti look to play catch-up and hand the points leader his first loss of 2010, Power also has the attention of his Team Penske teammate.
"We just have to stop Will Power," Castroneves said. "He's got too much power. We have to stop that."
Power, Patrick, Castroneves and the rest of the IndyCar field will resume the pursuit for fall glory in Miami in Race 3 with the Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday, April 11 (3:45 p.m. EST on VERSUS TV, IMS Radio Network, XM Ch. 145 and Sirius Ch. 211). Both the IZOD IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights Series Championships will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway the weekend of Oct. 1-2. For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call toll free (866) 409-RACE.
Open It Up: South Florida’s Indy Drivers
“We need to get going and put some good results together if we want to stay in this thing."- Key Biscayne's Tony Kanaan
At St. Petersburg, Key Biscayne’s Tony Kanaan gave Andretti Autosport its first front row start since summer 2008, but his string of five Top 5 St. Pete finishes ended with a 10th-place finish after the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car sustained a broken front wing midway through the race.
"In a way, we have been somewhat fortunate to salvage two Top 10s out of the first two [races], considering we've had some things go wrong,” Kanaan said prior to Race 3 of 17 en route to the IndyCar Series crowning its 2010 Champions at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 1-2). “We need to get going and put some good results together if we want to stay in this thing. Barber is going to be one of those places where track position is everything, so you'd better not put yourself in a bad position. “
When the IndyCar Series tested at Barber in March 2009, South Beach-resident Marco Andretti told the media that while a race at the facility would likely be a hit attendance-wise, more passing zones had to be developed.
"As far as driving, I enjoy the place," Andretti said at the time. "We might have to sit down and try and develop some passing zones, maybe Turn 5. It would definitely be a tough place to pass."
And while the rolling hills of Alabama might be the last place one would expect to find natives of Latin America, IZOD IndyCar stars and South Florida-residents E.J. Viso and Mario Moraes may be forces to reckon with on the road course at Barber.
Viso showed impressive speed in the pre-season test session at Barber, and he also led in Race 2 through the streets of St. Petersburg before a mechanical failure stopped his charge to a possible first career IndyCar victory.
“The track is very smooth, with some high altitude changes and blind corners,” Viso said. “In traffic, that will make it very hard to pass. We need to make sure we have a good qualifying because I think qualifying and race strategy will be the key for this race."
Moraes—at age 21 the youngest full-time driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series—returned to KV Racing Technology for 2010 after an impressive season last year, when the Miami resident collect a third-, a fourth- and a fifth-place finish. He was not able to attend the open test in February as he had yet to re-sign with the team.
"It is great to be having a race at Barber Motorsports Park,” Moraes said. “I was not able to participate in the open test this year but liked the track a lot last year. KV Racing Technology gave me a great car, so I am excited to go back. It will be fun to race a natural road circuit again."