Team Penske reached a milestone at the INDYCAR Grand Prix today, earning its 250th pole position in Indy car history as well as extending its Verizon P1 Award domination on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, broke his own track record with a lap of 1 minute, 7.7044 seconds (129.687 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three knockout qualifying rounds to determine the Verizon P1 Award winner. It gave Team Penske its third straight pole position on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn circuit and made the team 5-for-5 in pole qualifying at all tracks this season.
“In the Fast Six, the car had a fantastic balance and did a really neat lap,” said Power, who collected his third Verizon P1 Award this season. “I was actually up on the second set and then got too greedy at the end. But yeah, really cool to start at the front again.”
Scott Dixon qualified fourth in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has reached the Firestone Fast Six at all four road/street events this season. Sebastien Bourdais, the four-time Indy car champion and winner of the season opener at St. Petersburg in March, qualified a season-best sixth in the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.
“I think we unloaded fast and had a good start to the day in practice overall with the NTT Data car,” commented Dixon. “The second practice didn’t really allow us to lay down a good lap with the timing of the red flag at the end of the session. I’m pretty happy with the car but the Chevys are going to be hard to beat. I think it will be an interesting race and anything can happen here.”
Power headed a Team Penske logjam at the front of the grid. Teammate Helio Castroneves qualified second in the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden was third in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevy and Juan Pablo Montoya fifth in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevy. Defending INDYCAR Grand Prix and Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud brought up the rear of the Team Penske contingent, qualifying seventh in the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet.
Newgarden was the first to break Power’s 2016 track record of 1:08.6746 in the first round of qualifying. Power re-established himself as the record holder in the second round, with the first official lap of less than 1:08 on the circuit, then bettered it in the Firestone Fast Six to earn the 47th pole of his 13-year Indy car career – the fifth most all time.
“Really determined to have a good race,” said Power, the 2015 INDYCAR Grand Prix winner whose only top-10 finish thus far in 2017 was two weeks ago at Phoenix Raceway. “I’ve been knocking on the door every week, and one is going to go our way here soon. You put yourself in that position, it’ll happen. That’s the plan.”
Power and Castroneves have alternated winning the pole at the first five races this season. The Brazilian, who turned 42 on Wednesday, was relegated to starting second in Saturday’s fourth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix but will be on the front row for the fourth straight race in 2017.
“There is nobody in front of me, that’s great,” Castroneves said, “so we’re looking forward to a good start. Excited for tomorrow. Hopefully we have a good, clean start and see what happens in the race.”
Pagenaud, who won the most recent Verizon IndyCar Series race April 29 at Phoenix Raceway, leads the championship by 18 points over Dixon heading into Saturday’s 85-lap INDYCAR Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).
1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:07.7044 (129.687)
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 01:08.1169 (128.902)
3. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:08.1622 (128.816)
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:08.2454 (128.659)
5. (22) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 01:08.2478 (128.655)
6. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 01:08.3973 (128.373)
7. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:08.4461 (128.282)
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:08.5735 (128.044)
9. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:08.5824 (128.027)
10. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:08.8668 (127.498)
11. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 01:08.9151 (127.409)
12. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 01:08.9853 (127.279)
13. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:09.0025 (127.248)
14. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 01:08.6675 (127.868)
15. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:09.0557 (127.150)
16. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 01:08.9484 (127.347)
17. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 01:09.1777 (126.925)
18. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 01:08.9937 (127.264)
19. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 01:09.1796 (126.922)
20. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:09.0985 (127.071)
21. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 01:09.6123 (126.133)
22. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:09.3134 (126.677)