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Associated Press
Australian driver Will Power finds the entire process of racing at Indianapolis mentally draining. “It’s such a big deal all the time,” he said.

Luck shift within his power

Aussie banks on mental approach to shatter slump

– This is the place where it all goes south for the man from Down Under.

There, it’s said.

And there is Will Power, almost physically recoiling from it, all but placing his fingers in his ears and chanting “La, la, la, la” to drown it out.

Again he comes to Indianapolis as your IndyCar points leader, and again you can almost feel the place pondering the best moment to open the ground beneath his feet.

It’s Power’s seventh month of May here, and with the exception of one – 2009, when he started ninth for Roger Penske, finished fifth and won himself a permanent gig with the Captain – it’s been one pratfall after another.

“Yeah, I’ve had some unfortunate incidents on the track,” the Toowomba, Australia, native says.

So how does he turn the horseshoe right-side up?

“I think it’s just a matter of putting it together,” Power says. “Being in a good mental place when you go into the race and just being smart, understanding what you need to do to put yourself in a position to win.”

He’s done that well enough. This weekend – qualifying weekend – has always been the best of it here for Power, who has started in the top nine five straight times and in the top six four times.

In 2010, he started on the middle of the front row, led five laps and finished eighth.

He hasn’t approached that success since, finishing 14th in 2011, 28th in 2012 (when he crashed on the 79th lap) and 19th last year.

That’s not to say Indy simply isn’t his thing. But he acknowledges it’s at the very least different.

“It’s actually a tougher month,” he says. “Because here, it’s every day, and how much running can you do?

“Yeah, I think of all our races, it’s definitely the most mentally draining. Just the whole process you’ve got to go through, the media, everything, the whole thing. It’s such a big deal all the time.”

And maybe more so this year, with everyone moving from road course mode to oval mode after last weekend’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Or, not.

“It’s funny,” said Power, whose fast lap this week was 225.899 mph. “It was quite an easy transition.”

For a change.

bensmith@jg.net

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