SÃO PAULO, Brazil – The champagne wasn’t flowing yet in Victory Circle when Will Power, winner of the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle for the third consecutive year, was speaking of his next objective.
"I'm very happy to get that third win (in Brazil) and third in a row," said Power, who prevailed April 29 in the Chevrolet-powered No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car on the temporary street course by 0.9045 of a second over Ryan Hunter-Reay. "We need to make it four in a row. The most important race is next."
Click it: Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle box score
That, of course, is the 96th Indianapolis 500, and drinking from a quart of milk over a magnum of champagne in Victory Circle has been Power’s goal since early in his junior formula driving days.
Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is May 12, and the May 27 race will mark to the date the 40th anniversary of Team Penske owner Roger Penske’s first Indianapolis 500 triumph when Mark Donohue drove the McLaren/Offy to victory. Penske-owned cars have earned 15 race victories and 16 poles – both records – in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Click it: Indy 500 schedule || Power prevails in wild race
Power has a best finish of fifth in 2009 in four trips to the Speedway, but enters the first oval event of the season on a roll. The victories on the Barber Motorsports Park road course (from ninth on the starting grid), the Long Beach street circuit (from 12th on the grid) and the Sao Paulo street course (from the pole) – coupled with bonus points for two pole starts and leading the most laps in Brazil – have staked Power to a 45-point lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings.
“I’ll just keep the head down, try to enjoy it, enjoy my race,” said Power, who has entered the Month of May the past four year with most recent finishes of first (Brazil), 12th (Kansas), second (Long Beach) and 27th (Kansas). “You need a bit of luck, good strategy, no mistakes, and that's how you win races.”
Power recorded No. 18 of his career on the 2.536-mile, 11-turn street course in front of an enthusiastic crowd, and has won five of the past 10 races spanning two seasons to set himself up for another run at the series title.
“When I look at the last two seasons, the first one of the last two is definitely a weakness on ovals,” he observed. “But I would say last year that wasn't the case. It was just bad results were really bad.”
One potentially bad Indianapolis 500 omen for Power though: In 95 races, car No. 12 has won once (Peter DePaolo in a Duesenberg in 1925).