Power vs Franchitti for IndyCar title

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HOMESTEAD, FLA. (AP) - The racer in Will Power would love nothing more than to clinch the IndyCar championship by outdueling Dario Franchitti in the final lap of Saturday night’s Indy 300, one last mad dash in a season full of them.

The pragmatist in the 29-year-old Australian would prefer something a little more boring.

“Sitting here, all you want is it just to be an easy race,” Power said with a sheepish shrug. “That’s human nature. There’s no way I want it to be a tough battle, but obviously it would just feel so much better if it was and you won.”

Good thing. Because that’s precisely what he’s going to get.

Franchitti moved within 11 points of Power on Friday after taking the pole for the 200-lap race by posting a qualifying speed of 213.187 mph. The margin is the closest any driver has been to Power since June and makes the math on what it will take for Franchitti to win the title pretty easy.

If the 37-year-old Scot leads the most laps and takes the checkered flag, he’ll win a third championship no matter what Power does starting from the third spot.

“It’s going to be, what do they say, a barnburner,” Franchitti said.

It usually is during IndyCar’s final race.

This is the fifth straight season the points race has come down to the final event. Last year Franchitti successfully gambled on pit strategy to leapfrog Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe for the title.

The ability to come through when it matters has made Franchitti the favorite in the garage. Danica Patrick called it a month ago. Tony Kanaan, a good friend of Franchitti‘s, has hopped on board.

“Will’s a pro but Dario’s an old pro,” Kanaan said. “The guy has been in that position three more times at least than Power. (Power) is going to have it hard.”

Which is fine by Power. He knows in some ways he’s not even supposed to be here.

His career nearly ended during a horrific crash in Sonoma last summer. He spent time in the hospital, his back a jumbled mess. At his bedside Roger Penske made a promise to find enough sponsorship to give Power a full-time ride provided he made a full recovery.

The Captain delivered. And so has his latest star.

Dominating the road courses like no driver in recent memory, Power has been atop the standings virtually all season, winning five times en route to becoming IndyCar’s king of the road. He’s also proven to be an increasingly tough out on the ovals, protecting his points lead by finishing third in Japan two weeks ago.

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