Will's got the Power to win Toronto Indy

Australia's Will Power is the defending Honda Indy Toronto champion. (Getty Images)

Australia's Will Power is the defending Honda Indy Toronto champion. (Getty Images)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

TORONTO - Defending Honda Indy Toronto champion Will Power arrived in town on Thursday feeling a bit punchy, though that had nothing to do with a concussion he suffered in Iowa two weeks ago.

The Team Penske driver, who finished second in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings last season, left his home in Charlotte, N.C., at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday for what should have been a quick flight to Toronto. It didn’t end up that way.

“It’s taken me 25 hours to get here,” said the exhausted Indy driver Thursday, after finally touching down at a planned media conference an hour or so late.

“Basically, I left my house about 2:30, screwed around at the airport, (then) the flight got cancelled (and) I tried to get my bags from the flight that got cancelled — they just sent them on to Toronto. So it’s definitely been a tough trip.”

On top of that, the personable Aussie ran into a delay at Canadian Customs, extending his trip even further. So much for the defending champion receiving any preferential treatment.

All in all, Power, who makes his home in Charlotte, could have driven to Toronto in less time than it took for him to fly here.

“I was thinking of that,” he said, with a laugh. “Why didn’t I just hire a car and drive here?”

There was no question, however, that Power was going to make it to T.O. hook or by crook. The Toowoomba, Australia native has had great success at the Honda Indy Toronto, winning last season, one of five wins on the year, and finishing third in 2009.

This year there was some question that he’d be able to race at all. At the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on June 25, Power crashed hard into a outside barrier on lap 90 and suffered a concussion. As per IndyCar rules, he had to take the IMPACT test and be re-evaluated before being allowed to drive again. A week ago Tuesday, he underwent the test and passed.

“Everything was fine. I didn’t get knocked out,” he said of the Iowa race. “I remember everything. I didn’t really lose any memory or anything. I just had a headache. It was a mild concussion.”

Unfortunately, Power also remembers that he was tied with defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti heading into Iowa, but dropped 20 points behind the Scot after the race. Franchitti finished fifth in Iowa. The two are neck-and-neck in the drivers point standings again this year and Power, obviously, is motivated to beat out his Scottish rival for the title after losing out by a mere five points in 2010. Power actually won more races than Franchitti last season (5-3).

Power said the key to winning the overall title is to make the most of his so-called poor races, that is, finish as close to the top on those weekends when things just aren’t going well.

“Those fifth or sixth place results you gain with a bad car is what wins you the championship, not the amount of wins,” he said.

“(But) this year I’m definitely more relaxed about it,” he said. “I led the whole season last year and lost it in the last race. So to me, it doesn’t matter ... the points thing. You just have to go into every race and get the most out of it.”

Like most of the other Indy drivers who faced the media yesterday, including Danica Patrick and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Power loves the road course at the Honda Indy Toronto, saying that the outcome isn’t always determined by your qualifying position, that there’s spots on the course were passing is very possible, like when he earned his third in 2009. In that race, he had to come back from way behind to earn a podium spot.

“It’s fun here,” he said. “It’s all about the race and speed. It’s not about qualifying, and that’s always great for the fans. If you get in trouble, you can always come back.”

“I believe that this is probably our best road course race of the year,” added Patrick, who has finished sixth in Toronto the last two years, despite starting 12th and 18th. “There’s great overtaking places (and) a lot happens at the end of that back straightaway. I’m probably saying something that many drivers say, but if only every track had a really great long straightaway breaking into a hair pin, I think we’d have a lot more races like this one. But they don’t. It’s a great race, and I think that’s why it’s been around so long.”

Patrick, who has one career win on the Indy circuit, had a short and sarcastically sweet meeting with the media on Thursday, like when she was reminded that her boss at Andretti Autosport — Michael Andretti — had won in Toronto seven times during his career.

“Good for him,” said Patrick, to some laughs.

“Obviously he hasn’t translated that into seven wins for me,” she added. “Just because Michael’s won here a bunch, that doesn’t mean that his team is going to win here a bunch

“I guess I don’t completely understand the question other than why Michael’s wins haven’t registered into wins for us,” she said.

After a long pause before anyone asked anything else, Patrick quipped: “Did I scare you off with that one?”

I think she did.


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