Sports

A matter of Will Power: IndyCar series leader begins final race in epic title chase from 21st

  • Helio Castroneves, right, stands with team owner Roger Penske prior to practice for Saturday's Indycar auto race Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. (AP Photo/Will Lester)

    Helio Castroneves, right, stands with team owner Roger Penske prior to practice for Saturday's Indycar auto race Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. (AP Photo/Will Lester)  (The Associated Press)

  • Series points leader Will Power waits in his race car in the pits for practice for Saturday's Indycar auto race Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. (AP Photo/Will Lester)

    Series points leader Will Power waits in his race car in the pits for practice for Saturday's Indycar auto race Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. (AP Photo/Will Lester)  (The Associated Press)

  • Simon Pagenaud sits in his race car as he waits for practice for Saturday's Indycar auto race Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. (AP Photo/Will Lester)

    Simon Pagenaud sits in his race car as he waits for practice for Saturday's Indycar auto race Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. (AP Photo/Will Lester)  (The Associated Press)

Will Power has been through too much heartbreak for too many IndyCar seasons to think his first series championship would be simple.

He certainly didn't seem surprised Friday when a poor qualifying lap on a sizzling California track left him starting IndyCar's season finale from the back of the pack.

Power leads teammate Helio Castroneves by 51 points heading into the double-points finale under the lights Saturday. The Australian only needs a solid showing to wrap up Team Penske's first title since 2006, but he added a layer of difficulty with his 21st-place finish out of 22 cars in qualifying.

Team owner Roger Penske plans to gather his drivers before the race to praise their teamwork this season. Power and Castroneves will then be free to chase the championship.