Will Power will enter Saturday's "Kentucky Indy 300" just three races away from capturing his first IndyCar Series title with two-time and defending champion Dario Franchitti in hot pursuit.
Franchitti chopped Power's championship advantage from 59 to 23 points by rocketing to a third victory and sixth consecutive top-five finish of the season on Aug. 28 at Chicagoland Speedway.
"We saw how quickly things can change, especially on the one-and-a-half mile tracks. We're just going to keep going. It's going to be interesting these last three. I think it's going to be a fight to the wire. Trust me, I'll be pedaling as hard as I can," said Franchitti, who earned his second Indianapolis 500 title on May 30 and averaged a fifth-place in this season's five oval-track events. Power built his championship lead by storming through the nine road-and-street course races on this season's schedule with five victories. He averaged a second-place finish in those events en route capturing the series' inaugural Road and Street Course Championship.
He started the 200-lap Chicagoland race third and led from Lap 158 to 172, but his crew encountered an equipment problem on what was scheduled to be his final pit stop and was unable to completely fill his car's fuel tank. Power was forced to pit for fuel with just four laps remaining and placed 16th.
"I couldn't believe it. That was just a mistake we couldn't afford. I wanted to win so badly, but that's racing. These things happen. We just have to keep fighting on, that's life. This obviously makes things tougher for the championship, but we'll move on and we'll work harder at Kentucky," Power said.
The Australian driver who rose through the ranks primarily on road courses, grabbed an eighth-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 and nailed down his season oval-track best fifth-place finish at Iowa Speedway June 20.
He averaged an 11th-place finish on oval-tracks this season and remains confident in his ability to deliver a strong stretch run.
"We're still in front and we proved how competitive we can be on the ovals. I'm going for it. I want to win this championship. I race how I race. Once you get in the race, you don't think about what you're doing except at that second. That's how I approach every weekend. It will be the same in these last races, exactly the same. I know it's going to be tight to the end, but I'm up to the challenge," Power concluded.
The "Kentucky Indy 300" will be part of the speedway's "Celebrate Speed" weekend that also will place the racing spotlight the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" Sept. 3. Fans visiting Sept. 4 also will see the Firestone Indy Lights "Drive Smart. Buckle-Up Kentucky 100" and country music supergroup Diamond Rio.
Single-race tickets for the track's inaugural Labor Day event weekend can be reserved through the tickets pages of www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by phone at 888-652-7223 (RACE) or by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., next to the Montgomery Inn Restaurant or the Fan Center located off of Interstate 71, Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N in Sparta, Ky. Tickets additionally are available through tickets.com outlets.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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