On the back of his third victory in four races, Toronto winner Will Power says he believes that over the remaining five races, he can close down the gap to championship leader Simon Pagenaud.
Although another title rival and another teammate, Helio Castroneves, finished in second in today’s Honda Indy Toronto, Power was able to carve his deficit to Pagenaud from 75 points going into the weekend, down to 47 with five races remaining.
He said: “It's good to get this momentum for the team going forward for the rest of the championship. Five to go. All good tracks for me. If we can close that gap going into Sonoma, we can do this, we can win this championship, absolutely.
“As long as it's mathematically possible, you should never give up. [Scott] Dixon has been the example of that, year after year. He said to me the other day, with six to go, he was 90 back. Just shows you how quickly that can change. He's got to keep at it and not get desperate.”
Power said, however, that he isn’t going to focus on the mathematical possibilities.
He said: “It's impossible. How do you know where he's going to finish and where you're going to finish? You just have to execute week in and week out.
“Yeah, you can look at the points at the end of each weekend, but it's absolutely the wrong focus to be looking at points. You know your limits. You know your risks. You know what is a 50/50 move, you know when to take those risks.
“If you're taking them all the time, you're going to get caught out half the time or more. If you do it at a time when it's necessary to take that risk, you have a good chance of pulling it off. That's how you’ve got to do it.”
That perfect strategy
Power said the decision to make his second stop when he did came from the team’s experience. When Josef Newgarden crashed, bringing out a full-course caution which automatically closes the pit, Power had already hit pitlane. By contrast, the drivers ahead of him at the time, Scott Dixon and Pagenaud, saw the field compacted by the pacecar, and thus emerged from their final stops in 13th and 14th.
Said Power: “There's always a risk to stay out. We had enough fuel to go a couple more laps [in the first stint] but we opted to pit on the same lap as Dixon. It didn't give us a chance to jump those guys.
“But, you know, that worked out for us in the last stop. The team called me in just at the last minute. Perfect timing. I mean, I can't tell you how many times it has gone the opposite way for me at this place, and many other places. I was so stoked to see yellow lights as I was going down pit lane. It's not often you catch a yellow like that.”
Sympathy for Dixon
Power did, however, express a great deal of sympathy for Scott Dixon at falling foul of the closed-pit rule that is imposed when full-course cautions first fall. The Ganassi driver led 56 of the first 58 laps, appeared able to control his pace to the Penske duo behind him, and was just a lap away from pitting when the yellow fell for Newgarden’s shunt.
Said Power: “It's just frustrating. I'm the one that's been pushing in the series to leave the pits open so people who have done a good job, like Dixon was doing, don't literally get a drive-through [penalty].
“It's happened to me so many times, I reckon I'd have 10 more race wins or something if that didn’t happen. There's nothing you can do about it.
“You know the risk, though – that's the one thing. The risk is you can stay out longer and you'll jump the guy because you're on warm tires and low fuel, the guy is coming out on cold tires and full of fuel. But if the yellow falls, you know how many people would pit and how far you'll go back.
“This year, my team, we've been conservative in that respect. We've always pitted early. We've had the fuel to go further, but we've just pitted early.”