Sunday, August 22, 2010

Will Power lives up to name on, off track

Sonoma, California – They don’t call him Will Power for nothing.

The affable Aussie who has dominated the road courses of the IZOD IndyCar Racing Series this year put on another dominating performance here Sunday, holding off Scott Dixon to win the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

While the final margin was close, Power was seemingly in control all day, with only random caution periods allowing Dixon to close up and make it interesting. Rarely, however, did Power look seriously threatened. He emerged from his car looking as fresh as a daisy.

Last year, he was watching this race from a remote location, his broken back braced following a horrific, huge-impact crash at Infineon Raceway. Power said that in the moments after that crash, he felt so much pain that he thought his career was over … and maybe that was a good thing given the amount of suffering he was experiencing from fractures in his backbone.

Here’s where the willpower part kicks in. When good race drivers are seriously hurt and return to the cockpit months later, there’s this general assumption that they just healed up in the time they were gone … while we went on living our normal work-a-day lives.

Of course, what Power did in those late summer, fall and winter months to prepare himself to get back into a race car last spring was incredibly painful, requiring enormous endurance and, yes, will. Months of painful therapy were required to not only get him back on his feet, but steel his body to the level of physical fitness required to pilot an Indy car – particularly on a road course, where bumps are felt up the spinal cord and arms are working furiously to keep the bronc-bucking car between the lines.

Among us mere mortals, just the idea of getting back into a car that inflicted the kind of pain Power had to endure would be a major accomplishment.

So what does Power do?

He not only gets back into his Penske team ride, he blows away the competition on the road and street courses. He was at the top of his game here today. Now, he’s four decent oval track finishes away from perhaps winning the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series championship.

What’s in a name? Will Power says it all.

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