By Craig Merz
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Will Power knows exactly where he stands heading into the Honda Indy 200 on Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The winner of three of the last four races, Power is second in the season standings — 47 points behind Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, and 27 ahead of fellow teammate Helio Castroneves.
“It’s step by step each week, just keep chipping away at it,” said Power, coming off a victory in Toronto. “After a bit of a slow start we’ve gotten ourselves into the championship fight, but it’s still a little early to be counting points. We just need to keep doing what we have been and let the points manage themselves.”
Power has six top-five finishes this year. The Australian won the 2014 series championship and finished second in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
“He’s racing really well now,” Castroneves said. “It’s confidence. You can see it in the way he’s been racing the past few weeks. He has it. Pagenaud had a good run earlier too. Hopefully, Mid-Ohio is a good place for me.”
Drivers will race 90 laps on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile course with tight turns and minimal opportunities to pass.
“Track position is the key so you have to qualify well,” Power said.
None of his 28 career wins have been at Mid-Ohio, where he has finished second once in seven starts.
“It is not a track that I’ve won at before, so this would be a great time to do that and we’ll need to work hard to accomplish that,” he said.
Power said he can’t worry what his Penske teammates are doing during the race but obviously as much as he wants to knock them off, he doesn’t want to knock them out.
“I leave the strategy up to the team,” he said “These guys have been doing a fantastic job. They’ve been making really good calls. I trust them.”
In order to win, he may have to overcome the home-course advantage of Graham Rahal.
The son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal grew up about an hour from Lexington in Columbus and won at Mid-Ohio for the first time in 2015.
“It was a special day for me definitely,” Graham Rahal said. “From a racing perspective at least, by far the greatest achievement of my life. It meant a lot to me.”
Rahal is coming off a 16th place at Toronto and is 11th in points.
Another favorite would have to be Scott Dixon, who will be racing for the first time since Thursday’s announcement that Target will leave IndyCar at the end of the season after 27 years with Chip Ganassi Racing.
The partnership yielded 11 championships and four Indy 500 victories.
“I have no aggravation. I have nothing (bad) to say,” Ganassi said Friday. “They’re the greatest sponsor in sports, greatest sponsor you could ever have.
“It doesn’t say anything about IndyCar racing. It doesn’t say anything about the sport. It doesn’t say anything about the TV ratings. It’s a business decision that Target made. There’s no sub-story here.”
Dixon, the reigning series champion, is fourth in the standings and looking for a sixth win at Mid-Ohio.
“It’s a track that really feels at home to me,” he said.