Will Power has been here before.
For the third time in five seasons, Power sits atop the IndyCar series points standings with just three races to go. But Power's title hopes were dashed in 2010, 2011 and 2012 as part of a 3-year stretch of second-place finishes for the Australian driver.
Still, Power enters this weekend's race at Milwaukee in position for his first series championship – though his lead is razor-thin. He sits just four points ahead of Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in the closest title chase at this point in the season since 2009.
"In a funny way, it's still kind of early considering how many points are on the table," Power said.
Power certainly appears to be peaking after a mid-season slump.
Power limped away from Iowa after finishing a season-worst 14th, his fourth race in a row outside the top 10. But Power bounced back with ninth, third, and sixth-place finishes and overtook Castroneves – at least for now.
Power feels confident at each of three remaining tracks – Milwaukee, the road course at Sonoma, and the oval at Fontana – but is more focused on the race ahead of him than the big picture.
"It's probably time to start thinking about winning," Power said. "At the end of the day, if you win two of the last three races – or you win all three, obviously – you're going to win the championship."
Change could come: NASCAR could issue an edict as early as this weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway that makes it mandatory for drivers to stay in their cars until safety personnel arrive.
Tracks around the country have changed their rules in the wake of Kevin Ward Jr.'s death in a sprint car race.
Ward was sent into the wall when his car was bumped by Tony Stewart's in a dirt-track race on Saturday night in Canandaigua. Ward got out of the car and walked onto the track, where he was hit by Stewart.
Brewerton Speedway and Fulton Speedway, New York dirt tracks under the same management, announced new rules that drivers would be required to stay in their cars during an accident.
"If a driver, for whatever reason, exits a car on the track during a caution period, the race will automatically be placed under a red flag and all cars will come to a complete stop," a news release on the tracks' website says. "A driver may exit a car if requested by a safety crew member, or if safety warrants in cases such as a fire. Drivers that exit a car without permission, for whatever reason, are subject to fine and/or suspension at the discretion of track management."
Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion, said it could be tough for NASCAR to enforce a similar rule.
"I'm not aware of any rule or law that works without the ability to enforce it," he said. "I don't know how you can enforce a rule like that, unless you had a robot on the track to grab the person and put them back in the car. The only way you can enforce it is with a penalty system afterwards. Really, at that point, it's not effective. It's a difficult rule to try to make work."