NASCAR

Power picks up 1st podium of year - at an oval

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP)

It took Will Power nine races to finally grab his first podium finish of the IndyCar season.

Oddly, it came at on oval.

Even stranger is that some of Power's most consistent work this season has been at the three oval tracks. An aberration for a road and street course specialist? Nope, said Power after finishing third Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile. He was 19th at Indianapolis - but led 16 laps - and seventh last week at Texas.

''Like I've always said, never been a lack of pace,'' he said. ''In the past years it's always been something really unusual that's happened to me on ovals whenever I'm in a good position. I like ovals. I really enjoy them. I expect to always be extremely competitive on road courses or ovals, as competitive at each.''

Of Power's 18 career victories, 17 have been on road and street courses. His lone oval win came at Texas in 2011 and the knock on the Australian is that his weakness on the ovals has hurt him in the championship races.

But Power's not even thinking like that anymore. Mired in a 20-race losing streak dating back to Brazil last season, the Penske Racing driver said Saturday there's ''not as much expectation'' on him to win these days.

Asked if that's from within Penske or outside the organization, he said he's lowered his own expectations.

''Probably from myself. Like, you know, when you have a real big slump, you have to recheck yourself, get back to what actually got you in the position to be a great team,'' Power said. ''That's kind of the stage I'm in right now. It's good. You go back to working really hard.''

Power heads into next Sunday's race at Iowa - another oval - ranked 11th in the IndyCar standings. He said it's allowed him to change his approach on the season.

''We're just kind of putting it together,'' he said. ''Especially kind of not being right in the championship. A little bit more of not a relaxed approach, but methodical, not desperate in any way.''

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