Will Power fills in major blank of his career with Indy 500 victory

Power overcome with emotion after 1st Indy 500 win (1:46)

Will Power is emotional after winning the Indianapolis 500 for the first time. (1:46)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Will Power apparently doesn't remember the moments following his Indianapolis 500 victory Sunday.

"I must have screamed a lot?" Power asked the media. "I didn't realize. Everyone is talking about screaming."

Yes, he did. And for good reason.

Power had won 31 IndyCar races and 45 poles over his 10-plus-year career but had never savored the milk in winning on the sport's biggest stage, the one that defines careers and a victory required if a driver wants to enshrine themselves in racing lore.

Power's celebration was fueled not just by winning the Indianapolis 500 but by determination, disappointment and doubt.

For just the second time in the past 44 years, a driver won his first Indianapolis 500 after going winless in 10 previous starts.

"I was wondering if I would ever win it," Power said. "And, thoughts went through my mind [about it] during the month, I guess.

"My career, I've had so many wins and so many poles. But everyone always talked about the 500."

Indianapolis also comes with many traditions. Once in Victory Lane, Power appeared surprised to be handed a bottle of milk. It was just part of the thrill of the moment and Power embracing the celebration.

"I've seen a few of my competitors do it," he deadpanned about the milk. "I just hesitated a bit because I'm not supposed to eat dairy.

"But I didn't care. I just drank it."

What's avoiding doctor's orders after winning the Indianapolis 500? Power soaked it all in, with several of his competitors congratulating him on the IMS frontstretch before he performed a much more recent tradition of kissing the bricks at the start-finish line.

With team owner Roger Penske on his left and wife Liz on his right, Power pumped his fist in the air with still a look of misbelief.

"It's what I needed so badly, what I wanted so badly, and it came true," Power said. "Anyone here knows how that would feel. You want something so much, it comes through to you through hard work and determination."

Even hard work and determination might not have been enough Sunday with eight laps remaining, as it appeared his chance to win might slip away. He rode in fourth, and the three drivers ahead of him had the benefit of a few caution laps that made their fuel-mileage strategy a possibility.

Another caution and Power likely would have left Indianapolis just as he had done so the past 10 years.

Instead, leader Stefan Wilson had to pit with four laps to go and Jack Harvey followed, handing the lead over to Power, who cruised to the win by 3.1 seconds over Ed Carpenter.

"I just screamed like I've never screamed before," Power said about 90 minutes after the checkered flag. "It was just amazing. The last two laps, the last lap, seeing the white flag, the checkered, I mean, you can't explain it.

"Like I've really come down off the high now, because I've exhausted myself being so excited."

He certainly knew the feeling of losing an Indy 500, as Juan Pablo Montoya passed him with less than four laps remaining three years ago. It was then that it appeared Power might go down in history as one of the best drivers not to win Indianapolis.

"The one thing he always talked about was, 'I have to win the Indy 500, I have to win the Indy 500 to get where you need to be,'" team president Tim Cindric said. "Having seen what he's gone through with our team, what we've all gone through collectively -- his mind never leaves this sport.

"He's fully committed. He has made a lot of sacrifices. To see the culmination. I think you saw how excited he was today. You don't see that out of Will too often."

That high was evident the moment he emerged from his car in Victory Lane. The first Australian ever to win the Indianapolis 500 was nearly at a loss of words.

"I can't describe it," he said. "I feel like collapsing. I want to cry. I couldn't stop screaming on the radio. I can't believe it."

His team owner could believe it.

"He won this race today because he was the best," Penske said.

Power had to work to become the best at Indianapolis. A natural on road courses, the 37-year-old Power eventually adapted to the ovals. The biggest of them all, the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval, is the most tricky with its flat corners and amazing speeds.

For several years, Power has had to walk into the Team Penske shop and see the miniature Borg-Warner Trophy to signify the organization's 16 victories in the Indianapolis 500. He can see the photo display of Indianapolis 500 winners and could only wish and wait for the next Memorial Day weekend.

"When you go into Penske, you see all the baby Borgs there in the foyer," Power said. "In the IndyCar shop, you see all the pictures of those that have won.

"I've looked at that often and wanted to be up there. It's going to be pretty cool to walk in that shop and see yourself up there."

When he sees those photos, the emotions could return. If screaming is allowed in the buttoned-up Penske shop, Power likely will let out a shriek, especially if he sees the photo of Montoya in 2015 so close to a photo of Power in 2018.

"I was so disappointed in '15 -- man, so close," Power said. "This a very different feeling. I don't know what to say.

"It's amazing. I'll have to see the footage. Obviously, I screamed a lot. I just lost my head."