After roaring out of the gate in spring, Team Penske's Will Power has had a roller-coaster summer.
Those three consecutive April victories he had at Barber, Long Beach and Sao Paulo seem distant now in the heat of July. Power has only collected one top-5 finish in the last six races and lost his grip on the IZOD IndyCar Series championship lead after Ryan Hunter-Reay's win on July 8 in the streets of Toronto.
But the Toowoomba Tornado is far from finished in this title battle. Power sits just 34 points behind new points leader Hunter-Reay as the series shifts westward to the Edmonton Indy (Sun., 2:45 pm ET, NBC Sports Network), and as a two-time winner at Edmonton, he'll surely be a threat to contend again if he stays out of trouble.
Perhaps even more troubling for his rivals? Power insists that his recent troubles have only fueled him up for the final five-race stretch that will determine this year's champ.
"It's kind of given me a real kick in the ass," said Power in an INDYCAR teleconference on Tuesday. "I'm really back to being focused and ready and positive and it's kind of good to feel this way at this time of the season."
Power admitted that he would rather be the hunted -- the man atop the standings table -- than the hunter in this situation. But more important to him is finding the balance that is the hallmark of a champion.
"It's understanding when to push and when not to push," said Power, who has been in title battles that have gone down to the final race in the last two seasons.
"Often, I feel as though I've been so conservative ‑‑ when you win a race from the front, it's generally a day of no mistakes and kind of an easy day and you're not really pushing ridiculously hard.
"It's winning a race from back in the pack is when you have to have the calculated risk and understand when a move can be pulled off and when to push and when not to push...The guy who gets that balance the best -- that's how you win a championship."
As for the man he's chasing at the moment, Power believes that Hunter-Reay has become "the strongest guy in IndyCar racing right now" and echoed Hunter-Reay's own comments about finding continuity at Andretti Autosport as a reason why.
However, he feels that he still knows what it'll take to come out on top in Edmonton -- and to walk away with the Astor Cup this fall.
"It's still all about executing on the weekend and being mistake‑free in the pits, on the track, strategy‑wise, everything," he said. "It's got to come together for you."
Sebastian Saavedra will make his second IndyCar start of the season on August 26 at Sonoma for Andretti Autosport in the No. 17 AFS/Andretti machine. The Colombian racer drove an Andretti car at the Indianapolis 500, where he finished 26th due to mechanical problems.
Saavedra will test the machine at Sonoma on August 17th with his team. He's currently third in this year's Firestone Indy Lights championship, where he competes full-time for the AFS/Andretti group.