Indy 500 will be Will Power's next chance to dominate

Will Power showed two years ago he could win on road courses in the IndyCar Series. He showed last year he could win on ovals.

Does he show this year he can win the Indianapolis 500?

Why not?

He's winning everything else. The 31-year-old Australian won for the third time in a row last week, ripping through the streets of Sao Paulo to increase his points lead and strengthen his -- and powerhouse Team Penske's -- chokehold on the series.

After finishing second in 2010 and 2011, Power -- with five wins in the past 10 races -- is going to be hard to catch for the series championship.

The Indy 500, a grueling test of engine and driver, will be the best indicator yet of how well Power's No. 12 team is set up for ovals this year.

Two years ago, he had never won on an oval. Last year, he won the second of the twin Firestone 275 at Texas Motor Speedway to break that streak.

"When I look at the last two seasons, the first one of the last two is definitely a weakness on ovals," he said. "But I would say last year that wasn't the case. It was just the bad results were really bad. We won more races than anyone."

Power has not been better than ninth in four previous Indy 500s. But Team Penske has 15 victories and 16 poles in Indianapolis, so he's in the right seat. And right now, he has the momentum.

He's led a lap in the past 12 races, and he's led more laps this year than anyone.

"He's got something clicking very well," Brazil runner-up Ryan Hunter-Reay said. "I don't think it's a coincidence at all that they've won as many as they've won this season. So what is it, three out of four they've won now? Yes. That's astonishing and certainly tough to beat. If it weren't for Will Power, I'd have a quite a few more wins on my résumé, for sure."

Power shrugs. He's on top of the sport, but he knows he's not the champion yet. And hasn't been.

"We've had some great starts to this season, the last two years -- and fell short both times," he said. "So keep the head down, just try to enjoy it, enjoy my race. After Vegas last year, really changed my outlook on things. I try to just enjoy each race, and you know, just have fun with it rather than be so intense about it."

Brotherly win

What a moment for Kyle and Kurt Busch last week. They are not the most fuzzy-warm drivers in NASCAR, but when Kurt drove owner Kyle's car to Victory Lane in the Nationwide Series race at Richmond last week, it was easy to tell both brothers were caught by the moment.

It's a start-up year in Nationwide for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and he took a chance by tapping Kurt to split the driving duties with him. Kurt is a successful Nationwide driver, but his career is stagnant right now.

"To have Kyle stick his neck out and tap me to drive for him and Monster Energy, and to do this as two brothers racing hard, it's an unbelievable feeling," Kurt said.

Then Kyle won the Sprint Cup race in Richmond on Saturday night.

Indy testing at TMS

IndyCar testing is scheduled for Monday at Texas Motor Speedway and it is open to the public. Drivers will test from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Gate 4 opens at 8 a.m. Coolers are not allowed but concessions will be open.

X Games qualifier

Texas Motor Speedway is host to a Global RallyCross qualifier for the X Games 2012. The top 12 in points after the Hoon Kaboom Texas -- at TMS on June 9 before the Firestone 550 IndyCar Series race -- will earn berths to the X Games in LA.

Pit stops

Who's hot

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Junior's winless streak is going to end soon. It's bound to, the way he's running. The Sprint Cup driver finished second last week at Richmond, his fifth top-10 in a row and seventh in nine races. He's only five points out of the lead, and now he's going to Talladega, his sweet spot.

Who's not

Joey Logano. This is shaping up to be the worst season in the young Sprint Cup driver's career. He was 24th last week at Richmond, has led no laps since two at Daytona, has finished a lap down or more the past six races and hasn't been better than 15th since the second race.

Series updates

Sprint Cup

Top-fiver: Kyle Busch's win at Richmond last week, his fourth straight in the spring race there, gives him an average finish of 4.7. He's the only active driver with a top-five average at any Sprint Cup track.

Still rising: Jimmie Johnson continues to climb steadily in the driver standings. He's up to sixth, 24 points behind the leader. In the nine races, he's been out of the top-10 only twice.


'Dega debuts: Danica Patrick and Johanna Long are each making their first series runs at Talladega. For Patrick, it's the first time on the track at all. Long ran 16th in the trucks series stop at Talladega last year.

Rolling Hornish: Sam Hornish Jr. got his first series top-5 last week, and he's up to fourth in driver points.

Camping World Truck

Standings quirk: None of the top six drivers in the points standings has won a series championship. Only one driver in the top 10 has a title -- seventh-place Ron Hornaday Jr.


Best finish: Charlie Kimball recorded his career-best finish, an eighth, last week at Sao Paulo. It was the 21st series start for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver.


Back at the top: Antron Brown is at the top of the standings in Top Fuel for the third time this season. But he has never won at this week's stop, Atlanta. He is 14 points ahead of Spencer Massey.

JFR streaks: Robert Hight's Funny Car victory streak ended at four last week, but teammate Mike Neff's victory made it six wins in six races this year for John Force Racing.

6Victories for Jeff Gordon at Talladega Superspeedway, most among active drivers. But it's been awhile. His last win there came in 2007. Between Talladega and Daytona, Gordon has 12 restrictor-plate victories, also most among active drivers.


"You're going to see Daytona all over again. You're going to see a little bit of both -- you'll see the pack racing, then you'll see guys trying to go for it. Two-car tandems at the end, blowing water out of them, blowing motors up. It will be fun."

Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano, on what he expects at Talladega this weekend

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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