Power P1 In Qualifying At Indy Road Course

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 9 2015
Will Power rolled to the pole in Indy on Friday. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

Will Power rolled to the pole in Indy on Friday. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power extended Team Penske’s and Chevrolet’s recent domination during qualifying with a record-setting pole run Friday afternoon for the second annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Power toured the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.439-mile/14-turn road-course in 1 minute, 9.4886- seconds/126.357 mph in Firestone Fast Six qualifying to earn his second Verizon P1 Award of the season, as Chevrolet-powered entrants swept the top 10 grid spots.

“It’s the best way possible to start the Month of May,” said Power, who was joined by his three Penske teammates in the top-five.  “It just shows the team has done a great job with the car. We’re pushing each other hard. Got the Ganassi boys there knocking on the door all the time. Got our work cut out for us.

“Just really happy to be on-pole. Qualifying’s a day where you put absolutely everything on the line. It’s my favorite part of the weekend. Well, no, actually it’s winning on Saturday or Sunday is definitely my favorite part.”

Power eclipsed new teammate Simon Pagenaud’s year-old track lap record of 1:09.6716-seconds/126.062 mph set in the first segment of qualifying last May. Pagenaud, then driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, went on the win the 82-lap race from the fourth starting position.

Sebastian Saavedra qualified on-pole last year with a lap of 1:23.8822-seconds/104.672 mph in wet/drying conditions.

The pole was the 38th of Power’s career and 227th in Team Penske’s Indy car history. It also marked the eighth consecutive pole for Roger Penske’s juggernaut dating to The Milwaukee Mile last August.

“To have a pole here at Indianapolis _ at this track _ is just such a great feeling, and I felt like I was strong all week (in three practice sessions),” said Power, driver of the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. “I just missed out on-pole at Barber Motorsports Park (April 25), so I was pretty determined today and the guys did a great job with the car.”

In addition, Power’s run produced the third track record set with the new aerodynamic road/street and short oval bodywork packages supplied by Chevrolet and Honda in four series races this season where qualifying was completed. The grid for the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana was set by entrant points after rain and lightning curtailed qualifications.

“Actually it’s funny,” Power said. “The old (base Dallara DW12) car was pretty efficient around this track because you trim so much. It’s not that different. It’s a little better with the aero kit. The aero kit is more efficient when you run maximum downforce. In the way the car feels, it’s not that different.

“As far as a track goes, I’m telling you, it’s one of the nicest tracks we race on. It’s so smooth, so European-like, very consistent grip level all the way around. No bumps. It’s like a real pleasure when you actually go out for the first couple laps. I wish we raced on tracks like this every weekend.

“It’s a special track just because of where it is, right here. This is the home of IndyCar. It, to me, makes total sense there’s a road-course here. We should be racing on it, and we are. I think it’s absolutely the right move.“

Three-time series champion Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, was second-quick during the Firestone Fast Six (1:09.7156-seconds/125.946 mph) for his third consecutive qualifying spot in the first two rows.

“I’m happy with the front-row start here in the Target car,” Dixon said. ”We’ve had a really fast car here this weekend and we just missed out on-pole to the No. 1 car. I think the race will be fast and furious here. I’m not sure about the weather holding up (Saturday) but at the end of the day we’re on the front row and hopefully any trouble will happen behind us back in the pack if it’s wet. We’ve had a good run of late on the road and street courses and I hope that continues here for the team.”

Helio Castroneves (1:09.7388) will join Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya (1:09.8072) on Row 2. Castroneves had earned the Verizon P1 Award at the past two races.

Pagenaud (1:09.8715), driver of the No. 22 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet, and Tony Kanaan (1:10.2772) in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet occupy Row 3.

The 25-car field consists of 13 cars powered by Chevrolet’s 2.2-liter, turbocharged V6 and 12 Honda turbo-powered entries. Jack Hawksworth of A.J. Foyt Racing was the top Honda-powered qualifier in 11th at 1:10.4558-seconds/124.623 mph.

“It was a solid qualifying run,” said Hawksworth, driver of the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda. “We ran pretty clean. The car was pretty good, especially in the first round. It didn’t feel quite as good in the second round for whatever reason, but we’ll have a look through stuff (overnight). We just have to keep on getting better and hopefully (Saturday) we can have a good day.”

Power said he believes the Honda-powered teams could be factors if the race is run in wet conditions. “Absolutely. They’ve got a lot of good drivers in their camp,” Power said. “It’s just right now they haven’t got the aero kit side of things together. I think their engine’s probably right there.

“To me, I hope they bridge that gap. Obviously I drive a Chevy, but it’s good competition. It’s more of an even playing field, which it isn’t right now. You don’t want them to close the gap completely, but I just think that makes for great competition.

“You see guys like (Ryan) Hunter-Reay, even Graham (Rahal) this year, a number of those guys are all really good. They should actually be in the mix. It used to be 50/50 in the Fast Six. Yeah, from being a Chevy driver, I think Chevy has done a fantastic job with the aero kit, the engine and everything. But no one wants to see a split field either.”

ABC’s live television coverage is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. (EDT), with the green flag at 3:45 p.m. Coverage also is available on the IMS Radio Network, Sirius 212 and XM Channel 209 and www.indycar.com. Race timing and scoring can be accessed via www.indycar.com.

Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, who have been racing against one another since their karting days as youngsters in Brazil, will reach the same Indy car milestone this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Castroneves will mark his 300th series start during Saturday’s second annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Kanaan will reach that number in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24.

“Being friends for so long and to be doing similar results, it just shows that we pursued a dream when we were kids and we still love what we do,” said Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. “No matter how old we are, no matter how big a family or how many kids we have, the passion and excitement are still there. We talk about it all the time. It’s a great statement of hard work for him, for myself.” Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 champion, will celebrate his 40th birthday on Sunday.

Kanaan, the 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champion with Andretti Green Racing, is in his second season of driving the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Kanaan won the 2013 Indy 500 with KV Racing Technology-SH Racing. Kanaan will turn 41 on Dec. 31.

New car position panels on the Indy cars driven by Tony Kanaan and Justin Wilson were tested by Verizon IndyCar Series officials during Thursday’s practice sessions.

The panels track each car’s position on the racetrack and display it in real time via a light-emitting diode panel on each side of the chassis. The 8-inch-wide by 7-inch-tall LED panels, which are only 3 millimeters thick, will be attached to either side of the airbox (below the cockpit camera mount) on each entry.

Minimum car weights will be adjusted for the addition of the panels: road/street/short oval events will be 1,604-pounds and superspeedway events will be 1,574 pounds. INDYCAR could implement the panels on all cars beginning with Indianapolis 500 practice on May 15, pending successful testing of the technology.

Qualifying results Friday for the second annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 2.439-mile/14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road-course, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:09.4886 (126.357)
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 01:09.7156 (125.946)
3. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:09.7388 (125.904)
4. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:09.8072 (125.781)
5. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:09.8715 (125.665)
6. (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 01:10.2772 (124.940)
7. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:10.0230 (125.393)
8. (8) Sebastian Saavedra, Chevrolet, 01:10.1572 (125.153)
9. (20) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 01:10.1969 (125.082)
10. (4) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 01:10.3679 (124.778)
11. (41) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 01:10.4558 (124.623)
12. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:10.8321 (123.961)
13. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:10.6273 (124.320)
14. (83) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 01:10.5031 (124.539)
15. (6) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:10.6380 (124.301)
16. (98) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 01:10.5282 (124.495)
17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:10.6480 (124.284)
18. (25) Justin Wilson, Honda, 01:10.5776 (124.408)
19. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:10.8345 (123.957)
20. (7) James Jakes, Honda, 01:10.6749 (124.236)
21. (26) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 01:10.8786 (123.879)
22. (14) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:10.7391 (124.124)
23. (18) Carlos Huertas, Honda, 01:12.5038 (121.103)
24. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:11.1636 (123.383)
25. (19) Francesco Dracone, Honda, 01:12.5814 (120.973)

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 9 2015
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