It turned out that Will Power didn’t have to make three passes to win the Indianapolis 500. He just had to make one.
Sitting in third with just four laps to go, Will Power — who’d dominated the back half of the race — watched as the two drivers in front of him — Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey — peeled off to pit road in need of fuel, handing him the lead and a clear path to victory.
“I’m just like, ‘I have to get these guys, I don’t know how much fuel they’ve got, this is the restart of my life,’ ” Power said. “And then I go on and two pit and I’m like ‘Man, I think I’m going to win this.’ I’m screaming — with one to go I’m screaming ‘Man I’ve got this.’ ”
Power, the 2014 IndyCar Series champion, finished second in 2015. It’s his first Indy 500 win and the 17th victory for car owner Roger Penske, the most of any owner in Indy 500 history.
While Power is a champion, he’s also been known for having some weird luck. He’s infamous for flipping off race control in 2011 at New Hampshire. He didn’t start the 2016 season opener at St. Petersburg because of what was misdiagnosed as a concussion. He ended up finishing second in the points that season, his fourth second-place finish in the standings.
“I was wondering if I would ever win it,” Power said of the 500. “And thoughts went through my mind over the month … my career, I’ve had so many wins and so many poles but everyone talks about the 500 and I won it. I just couldn’t imagine winning a race in front of a crowd like this.”
Power attributed his success at Indy this year to a change in his mindset after the fourth race of the season at Barber Motorsports Park, another place where bizarre luck struck Power. He was near the front of the field during the rain-plagued race when IndyCar officials tried to resume it on Lap 16. Not long after the restart, Power’s car hydroplaned and he crashed.
IndyCar stopped the race after his crash because it was too wet and resumed it the next day. Power’s team wasn’t able to fix his car without penalty.
The next race was the Indianapolis Grand Prix. A race where Power started on the pole and won. That mindset change is clearly paying off.
Sunday’s race was plagued by handling issues, with driver after driver spinning out, including Danica Patrick, in what was her final race, and three-time champion Helio Castroneves. There were complaints and drivers calling for changes. None, however, came from Power.
Now, at 37, Power is an Indianapolis 500 champion.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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