SAO PAULO (AP) - Will Power believes he's at the right place to try to improve on his dominant start to the IndyCar season.
Power has won the Sao Paulo 300 the past two years and is a favorite again this weekend on the streets of South America's biggest city, at a track he calls one of his favorites.
Power also has won the past two races coming into Brazil, but he is expected to be heavily challenged in Sao Paulo by the drivers using Honda engines, which will get their turbochargers upgraded for the first time this season and should gain in performance. Three-time defending series champion Dario Franchitti is among those drivers.
Home-crowd favorites Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Rubens Barrichello and Ana Beatriz also hope to challenge for the win Sunday.
"The competition is very tough and to have a race weekend go your way you need everything to fall in place, and obviously that doesn't happen all the time," Power said. "But I will give my absolute best and we will see what happens."
Power has been the driver to beat on the 2.5-mile, 11-turn Anhembi temporary street circuit. He won from the pole position last year in a race postponed because of heavy rain, and took the inaugural Sao Paulo 300 in 2010 by passing Ryan Hunter-Reay with three laps to go in another race affected by rain.
"I like the whole track," the Australian said Friday. "I love the fact that they built the track with really long straights, which creates passing, but then you have a very technical session with a whole complex of corners. The resurfacing made it probably the best street course that we come to. It's smooth, almost like a road course."
Power finished seventh in the season-opening race in St. Petersburg despite starting from the pole, but rebounded quickly with dominant performances in the next two races before Brazil. He charged from a ninth-place start to victory in Alabama, and from 12th to first in Long Beach.
"It's been a great start to the season," Power said. "From a team perspective we came very well prepared, at this point I think we are the strongest team."
Power leads the drivers' standings with 127 points, 24 more than Penske teammate Castroneves, the winner in St. Petersburg.
"Power is the one driver we'll have to watch for here," three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves said. "He has won two races in a row this year and the last two here in Brazil."
Actually, Power has won seven of the past 11 IndyCar races on road and street courses, including five last year, when he just missed on the series' title.
Franchitti won that championship but has struggled so far this year, finishing worse than ninth in all three races. He will be one of the drivers in Brazil hoping to get a boost from the new engines from Honda, which has been allowed to change the compressor cover on its single turbocharger after a panel on Thursday denied an appeal made by Chevrolet.
"Hopefully this will get us a little bit closer in the engine department," Franchitti said.
Chevrolet said the change would go against some of the series' rules, but the three-person panel upheld an IndyCar decision to allow Honda to make the modification.
In addition to Franchitti's Chip Ganassi, five other teams are using Honda engines this season, which also has Lotus as a supplier. This is the first time in seven years that IndyCar has multiple engine manufacturers.
The race in Sao Paulo will mark the IndyCar home debut for Barrichello, who ended a 19-year F1 career last year. His best finish so far has been eighth in Alabama, and he is expecting more difficulties this weekend at a track he has never raced before.
Kanaan, Barrichello's teammate at KV Racing, is coming off a solid fourth-place finish in Long Beach, while Ana Beatriz joined Andretti Autosport for the home race despite not having a full-season ride.
The race in Brazil is the last before the Indy 500 on May 27.
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