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Power Secures Pole For IndyCar Series Opener

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 11 2017

Will Power will start Sunday’s IndyCar Series race in St. Petersburg, Fla. from the pole.

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Will Power of Team Penske won the pole for Sunday’s IndyCar Series season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday.

The pole is the 45th of Power’s INDYCAR career and 39th as a Penske driver.

Power posted a lap of 1 minute, 1.0640 seconds (106.118 mph) in the Fast Six to capture the pole position for the race on the 1.8-mile temporary street course.

“It takes obviously a very good team and kind of getting through that first round there, taking the risk of just doing one lap,” Power said. “Definitely had a good moment on the tires in the last round there, so (the team) made a bit of a wrong setup change there in the second round and then went back and did something else. Very happy to be on pole.”

Scott Dixon, in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 9 Honda, had dominated practice and the early rounds of qualifying, but had to settle for second on the 21-car grid. Dixon’s best lap in the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three rounds of knockout qualifying, was 1:01.2219 (105.844 mph).

“That was just on me unfortunately,” Dixon said. “We have a super fast car and should have been on pole. I just messed up a little on my fastest lap there. I’m obviously disappointed, but the team has four fast cars. We’re working together great with Honda and I can’t wait to start the race tomorrow.”

James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports qualified third at 1:01.3039 (105.703 mph), which will be his best starting position in six St. Petersburg races. The same can be said for Newgarden, who qualified fourth (1:01.7229, 104.985 mph) in his Team Penske debut in the No. 2 Verizon Chevy.

“Obviously starting off the season strong is huge,” Hinchcliffe said. “Momentum in this sport and any sport really is a key to success, and winning the first one and getting off to that strong start always makes you feel good and keeps the team in the right state of mind. And (my win here in 2013) was the first one in my career, so obviously a pretty emotional day and one that I remember very clearly, and with our best starting spot here, obviously the competition up front is incredible.”

Meanwhile, reigning Series champion Simon Pagenaud failed to advance past the first segment and will start 14th in the No. 1 Team Penske Chevy.

Josef Newgarden qualified fourth (1:01.7229, 104.985 mph) in his Team Penske debut in the No. 2 Chevy.

(This story will be updated shortly)

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Qualifying Saturday for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.8 mile(s) St. Petersburg street circuit, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:01.0640 (106.118)
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:01.2219 (105.844)
3. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:01.3039 (105.703)
4. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:01.7229 (104.985)
5. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:01.9851 (104.541)
6. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 01:02.0824 (104.377)
7. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 01:01.3516 (105.621)
8. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:01.5198 (105.332)
9. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 01:01.6066 (105.184)
10. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:01.6181 (105.164)
11. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 01:01.7399 (104.956)
12. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:03.1588 (102.599)
13. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:01.5898 (105.212)
14. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:01.6129 (105.173)
15. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:01.6070 (105.183)
16. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:01.7159 (104.997)
17. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:01.7674 (104.910)
18. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:01.7598 (104.923)
19. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:01.8465 (104.776)
20. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:02.2030 (104.175)
21. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, No Time (No Speed)

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 11 2017
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