Will Power continues his domination in IndyCar
Power claimed the pole for the 85-lap race with a best lap of 1 minute, 7.1997 seconds (120.965 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.
Dario Franchitti (1:07.2846), will start on the outside of the front row. Takuma Sato will start a season-high third in the No. 5 Lotus KV Racing technology car, alongside Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport.
Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves – both two time winners at Mid-Ohio – will be on Row 3.
In the morning 60-minute session, Power’s car clipped the curb at the apex of the corner, ran wide into the grass and spun the car trying to point it back onto the track. It backed hard into the tires at the end of the Turn 1 runoff.
Power got out of the car without assistance, though the Indy Racing League medical staff reported he had a thigh bruise. Power’s pole was the seventh of the season, tying Castroneves’ series record.
The single point earned in the championship standings by winning the pole will allow Power to clinch the first Mario Andretti Road Course Championship awarded in the IZOD IndyCar Series, when he starts the race on Sunday. Power also tied the series’ single-season record with his seventh pole of the season (teammate Helio Castroneves won seven poles in 2007). Power now has a 51-point lead in the overall series championship over Dario Franchitti, who qualified second on Saturday. Power has won four races this season and he’ll be looking to add to that total on Sunday.
It certainly wasn’t an easy route to the pole for Power, however. The 29-year-old native of Toowoomba, Australia crashed during the morning practice session, and his crew had to scramble to prepare the backup Verizon car in time for the qualifying session. Power recorded his fastest time on his final lap.
“After this morning’s accident, it really feels good to put the Verizon car on the pole,” said Power. “I just made a mistake in the morning practice and I put the team in a tough spot. I’m happy for the Verizon guys because they had to work hard to get the backup car ready for qualifying. Now we need to go out and get a win tomorrow. We had kind of a tough result at Edmonton (two weeks ago) and we need to bounce back from it. It will definitely be an honor to win the road course championship, especially with all the great road course drivers in this series. It just shows how hard Team Penske has worked to get to this point. But we’re still really focused on winning the overall championship and we need to take it one race at a time, starting with tomorrow here at Mid-Ohio.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "It was a gradual process during my run, but the laps weren't perfect. My last two laps were similar, but not mistake free. I am very happy for the Verizon team and I can't thank the crew enough. I made it hard for them after my practice and they had to do a lot of work. I hope we can win this one this weekend. We had a disappointing result in Edmonton, but we are coming back here. "
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified second): "The Target car was good today. We had a long day yesterday and we stayed late last night going through all the data to look where we could improve the car. We had it all together today and I just came up a tenth short. I had consistent laps. I knew it was a big gamble to not use the Firestone reds in qualifying, but if I wouldn't have made the Fast Six, Chip would have had some interesting conversations with me. That was my strategy today."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus - KV Racing Technology, qualified third): "I'm very pleased with the result today. I was able to improve each session. We tested here last week which helped me and my engineers a lot. We spent both practice sessions working on improving the car and each change we made led to more positive results. Qualifying was tough as everyone was so close in times so I am pleased we made it to the Firestone Fast Six again. For us to do it here, we needed a very balanced car and I am thankful to all my crew and hope to give them a good result tomorrow
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, qualified fourth): "That wasn't a bad result. I knew we were a top-five car, but I was hoping we were a top-three car. We barely missed it -- by less than a hundredth of a second. But, fourth is good. The competition is great in the IZOD IndyCar Series - the best it's ever been - and I'm really enjoying it."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified fifth): "The session was ok but we struggled with understeer. We dialed the car in better for the Fast Six, but we couldn't make the most of it. We seemed to be losing quite a bit to Dario on the straights, so we definitely look at that tonight to see if there is something going on with the brakes. Obviously we would have liked to have done better, improve a tenth or two and move up a couple of spots. But overall being in the Fast Six isn't too bad. The car has had some good runnings here so I am looking forward to tomorrow's race.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified sixth): "It's great for Team Penske having Will earn the pole, which certainly shows that we have fast cars. Unfortunately for the No. 3 car, we tried everything that we could, but we came up a little short. We will look at the data tonight and I feel good about our race set-up. Tomorrow, I know that my guys will give me fast pit stops and TC (Tim Cindric) will call a great race. I am looking forward to it."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified seventh): "It's a bit of a frustrating qualifying result because we know we have a quick car here and I was hoping to fight for the pole. After our spin, we had to hustle to try and get one more lap to try and make the Fast Six. After I came out of the pits, there was a car that went off in front of me, so I was watching him and being a little cautious. I didn't expect (Justin Wilson) to be driving so aggressively with the car in the grass and we just got together. It's really too bad for both of us as we were both trying to make it into the final round of qualifying. We'll be starting seventh tomorrow and I know we have a fast car and we'll have a good game plan heading into the race, so we're still looking for a strong result."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA -- KV Racing Technology, qualified eighth): "Our PDVSA car felt good in the session. But the grid is so tight that you can't make a little mistake. I was pushing the car so hard. I was fast enough on my final lap (in the second qualifying round to advance to the Firestone Fast Six) but I slid wide under braking at the end of the back straightaway and missed the apex. I couldn't get it back in time to get a good lap. So we'll start eighth in the race."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Meijer, qualified ninth): "I think again we were fighting too much understeer with the Meijer car. I felt like we were a little too conservative. We didn't have time to make the changes that I think would have made the difference for us today. It was nice to get into the top 12 and we'll make the best out of tomorrow's race."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, qualified 12th): "I used up two sets of the red Firestone tires in the first round and that's why I couldn't go any fastest in Round 2 where we put on used reds for the first run and a set of primary tires for the second run. The car was sliding at the beginning and we made some changes during qualifying that made it better and I was able to get in the top-six in the first round. In the second stage, I think we made the wrong decision. We probably should have gone out with used reds again because I think they had more grip. Qualifying wasn't great but also not too bad. I think we can have a good race."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, qualified 13th): "I think Marco (Andretti) was slowing down to get a good lap and on that last set of tires after we pitted I just didn't get a good run. It's so close out there that if you miss it by a little bit it makes a big difference. The Panther guys have worked hard and the National Guard car seems pretty close, I just felt that we could have made that top six. It's a little unfortunate, but we'll all move together to the next phase. We've definitely improved the car over the weekend and we'll continue to do that for the race tomorrow."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB, qualified 15th): "I was expecting a little bit more in qualifying. The car was different with the red Firestone tires compared to the balance we had on the black tires. But still, 15th is not too bad, it's one of our better qualifying sessions this year, so that is always encouraging. We should have a good car for the race tomorrow so I'm looking forward to it."
ADAM CARROLL (No. 27 Team AFS, qualified 17th): "I can't remember the last time I qualified that low in the field. I really have nothing to blame other than myself. I still feel like I need to be in the car more. Looking at the data, I just lost it in the corners. It's just been frustrating. I have to get out there tomorrow and make up some places."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP de Ferran Dragon Racing, qualified 19th): It was really a disappointing session. We had high expectations after being very competitive during this morning's practice session. We made some big changes and unfortunately, they did not work. The car had a lot of understeer and I just couldn't improve my times, even on the red tires. Now we will just concentrate on having a good race tomorrow.
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, qualified 20th): "I don't really know what to say, but I know I'm not happy. We just don't have what we need right now. We have a lot of work to do before tomorrow and need to find some answers."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, qualified 22nd ): "I wish we were starting further toward the front, but we just didn't have the last bit of speed we needed to move up. The GoDaddy car feels pretty good, but the field is so close that just a tenth of a second makes all the difference."
FRANCESCO DRACONE (No. 34 Conquest Racing, qualified 23rd): "As expected, it was a learning experience. I missed some of the practice this morning and that didn't help because I need as much time as I can in the car. The new aspect for me in qualifying was using the red Firestone tires. It was the first time I was driving on them so I didn't know what to expect. There's a lot to learn and I need to learn quickly. My approach for the race tomorrow will be to stay calm and consistent. I think that is key for these races. I'm very excited to be starting in my first IZOD IndyCar Series race tomorrow. I can't wait."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co/A.J. Foyt Racing, qualified 24th): "We're faster than 13th and starting 24th cause of who was in our qualifying group. We made a lot of improvements for qualifying but it wasn't enough for our group. The race is long and a lot of people fall out of the seat so there'll be opportunities to take advantage of situations."
GRAHAM RAHAL ( No. 02 National Tires & Battery): "We definitely struggled in qualifying. It wasn't any one thing. The front of the car had a ton of understeer and the rear wasn't good either. I cannot attack; I can't go faster. Then when we put red tires on it made both of those things worse. Other teams improved since Friday but we went backwards due to some decisions with the setup that didn't work. Its going to be a tough race but we're going to see if we can play with the strategy and move the National Tire & Battery car forward."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology): "After practice this morning, we were fourth. I thought we would be in good position for the second qualifying round. But I made a slight mistake on my fast lap and we missed the second round by just a tenth or so. We have come from behind on the road courses this year to finish well. I think we can do it again on Sunday here."
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