Will Power Returns to Toronto as a Dominating Force in Canada

By: Christian Ryan

The most successful IndyCar driver in Canada is Australian.

After his most recent win at the Texas Motor Speedway, Will Power said that the Lone Star state was his second home. Surely, his next home after that would be north of the border where Power has claimed five wins and nine podiums over his years in IndyCar and Champ Car.

“Wow,” Power exclaims, recounting his past success. “I didn’t even know that I’ve won that many times in Canada. That’s pretty cool.”

Three of his five Canadian victories have come in Toronto, with the most recent coming in 2016. Last year’s win made the defending Honda Indy Toronto winner the winningest active IndyCar driver in Toronto, four short of Michael Andretti’s all-time high of seven wins on the city’s streets. However, despite this distinction, Power does not take anything for granted when visiting the country where he has been so dominant.

“Toronto, I have to say, is a tough place to win - a real driver’s track,” he explains. “It’s not even a thought in my mind as I go into a weekend how many times I’ve won there because every year is so different. You could even turn up with the same setup and car, and it will always be different. It will always be a different race. It’s really a matter of being on your toes and being able to react very quickly.”

With the inherent difficulty of the Toronto street course and Power’s success there, some of his proudest racing achievements have come from Canada’s tricky tracks. Amongst them, winning the final Champ Car race in Toronto, the 2007 Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. In a race where he started from the back due to a qualifying penalty, Power made his mark on Toronto racing history.

“I have to say the year I won in 2007 in Champ Car was a fantastic win,” he says. “It was just one of my favourite wins of all time.”

It was also in Canada that Power would secure his ride with Penske Racing, a combination that has led to ninth on the all-time race wins and a Verizon IndyCar Series championship in 2014. In the 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy, Will Power and Penske Racing came together in a powerhouse that continues to succeed today.

“I was a part time driver for Penske,” he explains, “and that win, I feel, landed me a position in the team.”

With a strong string of recent performances and a new understanding of his success in Canada, Power is looking forward to returning to Honda Indy Toronto to continue his hunt for a second IndyCar title. Having claimed a podium in the most recent street course, Detroit, as well as a win in Texas and top five at Road America, Power is on a hot streak and hoping it keeps him on pace in the points.

“The championship is very tight, so you’ve got to just make sure that you keep on nailing the results week in, week out to make sure you don’t put yourself in a bad position, points wise,” he says. “I feel like our team, and my car, we’ve been really strong everywhere, really strong. We just had a bit of misfortune to start the season, but I felt like we’ve been capable of winning pretty much at every track, so that gives you confidence.”

After a return to the Iowa Corn 300, where Power placed second in 2016, the Verizon IndyCar Series makes its yearly Canadian visit to Honda Indy Toronto. While many fans will be showing their support for hometown driver James Hinchcliffe, the passion that Canadian fans have for IndyCar leaves Power, one of the most successful drivers to race in Canada, in awe.

“The fans are the thing that stick out to me in Canada,” Power says. “The knowledge of the fans, but also the passion. You don’t get cooler fans than Canada, they love it… They love their racing.”