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Power Earns Eight Pole of Season

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 1 2011

Will Power fastest in qualifying Saturday at Kentucky. (File photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

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Will Power earned his series record-tying eighth PEAK Performance Pole Award of the season and set a two-lap track qualifying record in the process at 219.283 mph (48.5948 seconds).

Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon – the others eligible for the driver championship – will start 11th and seventh, respectively. Franchitti’s crew changed the engine in the No. 10 entry between the second practice session and qualifications (2 hours, 15 minutes), and “We just didn’t have the speed we did in the first session.”

Power carries a 12-point lead over Franchitti and is 60 points ahead of Dixon heading into the 200-lap race. Five different teams are represented in the top five, and eight in the top 10.

In recording his 24th career pole, Power broke a tie for 11th all-time with three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford. Nine earned poles in a season has been accomplished by Danny Sullivan in 1988 (CART sanction) and Mario Andretti in 1966 (USAC).

“I think it’s great to get the Verizon car up there, get the point, put ourselves in the best position to lead laps and win the race,” said Power, who posted his first oval pole start of the season in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car. “Full credit to the crew. They’ve just been working hard because we realize that’s sort of been where our weakness has been, is on the ovals. They’ve come up with a really good car.”

Graham Rahal will join Power on the front row after a two-lap average of 218.348 mph in the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing car. In the past three races, Rahal has started second, third and second. It’s his best earned oval start by far of the season (previous best 12th at Milwaukee).

Rookie James Hinchcliffe (218.186) in the No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing car and Carpenter (218.004), driving the No. 67 Dollar General car for Sarah Fisher Racing, will share Row 2. Carpenter, the 2010 pole sitter, has been the race runner-up the past two years.

In Firestone Indy Lights qualifications, Andretti Autosport driver Stefan Wilson earned his first Sunoco Pole Award and set a two-lap qualifying record of 191.659 mph (55.5988 seconds) for the Kentucky 100 on Oct. 2.

Brandon Wagner, driving the No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car for Team Moore Racing, posted a season-best starting position of second (190.641 mph). It was his best qualifying effort since winning the pole at Chicagoland Speedway in 2009.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 1 2011
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