Surfers: 'Will' Powers way to third straight pole
“I can’t believe I have another pole start here,” Power said. “But, it’s only the pole and the goal is to win the race on Sunday. That’s the big prize here. It was a mega last lap. And I’m really happy for Craig Gore, Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser. They have supported me through my whole professional career so I am really happy for them. I also want to thank everyone at KV Racing Technology – Team Australia. Mark Johnson, Dave Brzozowski, the engineers and the entire crew has done a great job all weekend.”
Second and third fastest went to Power’s fellow ‘Down Under’ drivers – Brisbane-born Kiwi Scott Dixon and Sydney’s Ryan Briscoe, while Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves rounded out the fast six, with both Franchitti (2003 Gold Coast winner) and Briscoe praising the Event in the post-qualifying press conference.
The session was a difficult one for the entire field with rain in the earlier segments, but with the track drying and improving with every lap in the final sector there was a furious battle for the top spot with Power securing it with a flying lap, snatching it from Dixon at the final opportunity by lapping at an average speed of 105.977mph (1m 34.9451s) to Dixon’s 105.067mph (1m 35.7672s).
Power, a native of nearby Toowoomba, Australia, will be joined on the front row for the 60-lap race by New Zealander Scott Dixon (1:35.7672; 105.067), the reigning IndyCar Series champion in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. Aussie Ryan Briscoe will start third in the No. 6 Team Penske car (1:35.8007; 105.031).
Power started the day at the top of the speed charts after yesterday’s twin practices with a time of 94.8084 seconds (106.130 mph). In this morning’s practice, which was run in two groups, he went out with the second group and posted the second fastest lap of his session, 94.6523 seconds (106.305 mph), and the second quickest when the times from both groups were combined.
Power, in Group #2 of Round #1, which was run without rain, but still on a very wet track, advanced when he posted the fastest lap in his group with a lap of 110.4357 seconds. During Round #2, with the track was drying, Power ran on slick tires and recorded the fifth fastest time, 100.4642 seconds to advance to the final round, the Firestone Fast Six. In the finals, the local boy was able to pull out all the stops on a dry track notching his fast lap on the last lap of his run.
She will start from the back of the grid in 23rd position.
The Nikon Indy 300 will be broadcast on ESPN Classic on Saturday, October 25 at 10:30 p.m. ET. There will be a re-air on ESPN 2 on Sunday, October 26 at 11:00 p.m.
Will Power is the first Indy car driver to win three pole positions in Australia (2006-2008). He is the first driver to win the pole in consecutive years.
PEAK MOTOR OIL QUALIFYING QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 8 Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia, PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award winner): "It was quite a difficult session, to be honest. I went out there and half the track was wet and half the track was dry. It was a matter of getting through each round and in the last round it was all dry. It was back to what I knew quite well. On the last lap, I backed off out and made sure I got a good run in. I'm very happy for the team. We turned up with a pretty good car out of the box and the guys did great work. Hopefully we can get it done this weekend, because that's what we've been trying to do for the last three years."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified second): "Today was pretty interesting qualifying with the different conditions. We nearly got caught out a couple times not getting a lap in and then getting a yellow. Getting though Q2 was quite nice because we were sitting in ninth before the last lap. It was definitely a good day for Team Target. A lot of credit goes to Will (Power) for putting together a lap like that in the conditions that we had. I don't think we would have had that if we had gotten all the corners right."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified third): "My run was pretty good – it was good fun out there. I was a bit nervous when the rain came down – it’s never fun going down a street course in the wet – it’s pretty daunting. The car seemed to work pretty well, the tires were really good in those conditions as I never had any moments of aquaplaning - I give a lot of credit to Firestone there. At the end when we finally made it to the Fast 6, the track was just getting dry and it was the first time we were able to put a good lap together. It wasn’t bad – it was the first time I was really able to attack the curbs. I was just hoping for the best coming off of them. I rubbed the wall a few times, but I’m happy where we’re starting tomorrow.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified fourth): "As for my day, it's been pretty good. First practice was OK, but then the rain came and I thought it was going to be a bit of a challenge because I haven't driven in an IndyCar (Series car) in the wet for hell knows how long. It seemed to work OK. It was dry for the first half of the lap, so I thought, let's go to slicks here. I went tearing into Turn 7 and it was completely wet and I almost stuck it in the fence. Got through the first two sessions OK and I overdrove the Fast Six. I felt driving in wet knocked my rhythm off a little bit and I didn't do a good job. The car was awesome and the Target boys did a hell of a job preparing the car. It's gone a lot better than I expected."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol, qualified fifth): "It’s encouraging to go into the last race of the year starting in the Firestone Fast Six. Everything is so uncertain going into the off-season. We don’t have a deal yet. It’s all up in the air." (On season overview): "There have been some strong points. I have to remind myself that we’re a single-car team. It’s not easy when you don’t have anything to compare it to. You don’t have another car out there gathering data, gathering changes that work. We were a constant threat in the top five, so that’s all that matters.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified sixth): "We took a gamble there when it started raining. We had 20 minutes in the first session and it looked like it was going to continue raining, so we decided to change part of the gearing of the car. When we made the top six, we kept to our plan and the gears. Ultimately the track dried out. It was a little bit hard to put together the right lap, but it paid off because top-six at this place is pretty good. Hopefully we’ll continue our good progress during the weekend and see what happens tomorrow.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 36 Conquest Racing, qualified seventh): "I think we showed that Conquest Racing is a very competitive team. I think we deserved a lot better than P7, we had a car that could easily be in the top four this afternoon. We should have been in the top six in qualifying. Our position in the pits, being at the end of pit lane, hurt us quite a bit. It made qualifying pretty difficult because we were quick, but other guys in front of us were able to get out of the pit earlier and were able to complete one extra lap. Throughout qualifying, we were consistently at the top and looking good to move on to Segment 3 but unfortunately guys that did extra laps got us. The team has worked really hard and done a great job. We’re confident for the race tomorrow. We feel that we have a car that can compete with the guys in front of us. Starting seventh is not a bad spot, we just have to stay out of trouble and do our best.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, qualified eighth): "The Team 7-Eleven car should have been in the Firestone Fast Six but the league said I crossed the finish line and took the checkered flag, so my last lap didn’t count. It is completely unfair because I was right behind Dario (Franchitti) and they gave him the lap so I don’t know what to say. We’ll take eighth but we’re not happy about it.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 02 McDonald, qualified ninth); “Based on our potential I am pretty disappointed. The McDonald’s team ran the quickest time the whole weekend but our starting position doesn’t reflect that. I thought we had a lot of potential but we couldn’t get a lap out of it quick enough. We were slipping and sliding around. In conditions like that where its wet and drying you need to be able to get on it and I couldn’t for whatever reason. Anything can happen in this race especially with a rolling start here. It’s going to chaos at Turn 1. I think we can still be very smart and work this out because it’s by no means over. We can still win this race and show what we are capable of.”
Grid: Nikon Indy 300
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