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Power Earns Landmark Pole

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2018

Will Power will start Sunday’s IndyCar race at Pocono from the pole. (INDYCAR file photo by James Black)

As much success as he’s realized during an outstanding open-wheel racing career, Australian Will Power still had difficulty Saturday accepting his latest accomplishment, when his name was placed alongside that of Texan A.J. Foyt Jr. on Indy car’s all-time pole positions list.

That’s where Power sits after claiming the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying Saturday for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. Power’s two-lap average of 219.511 mph around the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” gave the 2018 Indianapolis 500 champion pole No. 53 of his 14-year career, moving him into a tie for second on the all-time list with “Super Tex” _ first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. Only Mario Andretti, with 67 career poles, has more.

“I never thought I’d be up in that sort of company,” said Power, driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet. “To be next to A.J. Foyt’s name, I wouldn’t have expected that when I started my career. So amazing! Great to be starting at the front here. That’s what we need to get our championship back on track.”

The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Power earned his third pole and ninth front row start of the season and picked up a bonus point for being fastest of the 22 qualifiers for Sunday’s 200-lap race (1:30 p.m. EDT, NBC Sports Network and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network) on Pocono’s unique triangular oval.

“We trimmed a bit (to remove downforce for qualifying) because you’re going to be lifting (off the accelerator in the turns) anyway, so you may as well get a bit of a gain and have to hang onto it a little bit more and drive it,” Power said of his P1 run. “The car was really fast. Great job by everyone with such a quick turnaround from practice to have a good, fast car.”

Power is the two-time defending winner at Pocono and is seeking to become the first driver in 40 years to win three consecutive Indy car 500-mile races. That has not occurred since Al Unser claimed the 1978 “Triple Crown” with superspeedway victories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono and the now-defunct Ontario Speedway in Southern California.

Josef Newgarden, Power’s teammate, qualified second in the No. 1 Chevrolet at 218.802 mph to lock-up the front row for Team Penske.

“Pretty happy with it,” said Newgarden, the reigning series champion. “We had a good run. I was really happy with my two laps. Just wasn’t enough for pole, unfortunately. One-two (in qualifying) for Team Penske, can’t be mad about that. We have a good start for Sunday. Now we just work on our race car, try to get that dialed-in as best as we can, see what we can do for 500 miles.”

Andretti Autosport teammates Alexander Rossi (218.758 mph) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (217.806 mph) qualified third and fourth, respectively. It placed the four nearest competitors to championship leader Scott Dixon in the first two rows of the starting grid.

Dixon qualified 13th in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda at 216.410 mph. The four-time series champion leads Rossi by 46 points, Newgarden by 60, Power by 86 and Hunter-Reay by 95 heading into Sunday’s race.

“I think we were a little surprised with the understeer in the car, to be honest,” said Dixon, who began his week by signing a multi-year contract extension with CGR. “Turn 3, I was flat, and then we’d struggle on the exit of Turn 1. The car bottomed-out somewhat there in the first lap, so I’m not sure what happened. It is what it is, though, and the PNC Bank car feels comfortable. It’s a long race and we’ll have to deal with traffic and try and get to the front.”

A final 60-minute practice scheduled for Saturday afternoon was canceled by rain that began soon after qualifications were completed.

Sunday’s race will be the 25th Indy car event at Pocono Raceway dating to 1971. To that point, track officials confirmed on Saturday that Pocono will be part of the 2019 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The race date will be announced when the complete series schedule is revealed, expected sometime in September. 

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Qualifying results Saturday for the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, and speed:

  1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 219.511 mph
  2. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 218.802
  3. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 218.758
  4. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 217.806
  5. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 217.769
  6. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 217.612
  7. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 217.587
  8. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 217.296
  9. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 217.009
  10. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 216.863
  11. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 216.658
  12. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 216.547
  13. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 216.410
  14. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 216.328
  15. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 216.025
  16. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 215.177
  17. (19) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 214.336
  18. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 214.225
  19. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 211.919
  20. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 211.696
  21. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 209.599
  22. (88) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 208.951
| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 19 2018
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