Power Claims St. Petersburg Pole Again
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – New to the IZOD IndyCar Series this season is the “Verizon P1” award that goes to the pole winner of each race on the schedule.
So when Team Verizon driver Will Power became the first-ever winner of the Verizon P1 Award it was only natural to ask if it were a stipulation in his contract.
“It was, otherwise I’d be fired,” the Team Penske driver quipped. “So I made sure I got it.”
Power certainly made sure of that by winning the pole for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the fourth year in a row. He claimed the pole with the fast time in the Firestone Fast Six with a time of 1:01.315 around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course.
It was the 30th pole of Power’s career.
The Team Verizon driver won the first-ever Verizon P1 Award for claiming the pole.
“It’s a very good start to the season,” Power said. “We just had to get through the fast six and look after our tires in the first two rounds then see what we could do that last one.
“That was interesting. I never knew you could make so many changes to a car through qualifying. In between each round it’s kind of hard to find a balance all weekend, but it seemed very nice on used tires. Going into the final round was kind of straightforward; just go out there and give it everything I had. I thought it was going to be very tight. It’s very tight on new tires but we made a few changes for the last run and it was good to see some new people up there. Like Simona (de Silvestro), that’s very cool but I always knew she was quick.”
It was quite a unique combination of drivers that made it to the Firestone Fast Six. Usual suspects including 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti and two-time IndyCar champ Scott Dixon were all missing from the drivers vying for the top six positions.
They were replaced by an unusual mix that included Takuma Sato, who is in his first race with A.J. Foyt, Simona de Silvestro, in her first race with a Chevrolet engine and her first contest as a member of KV Racing. And let’s not forget about 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Series champion Tristan Vautier, who qualified sixth with a time of 1:02.064 (104.408 mph) in his first IndyCar start with Schmidt/Peterson Motorsports.
By comparison, Hunter-Reay qualified eighth for Andretti Autosport, Franchitti was 10th for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and Dixon was way back in 20th as a first round elimination.
That creates an interesting mix for Sunday’s race with new faces in the front and big names in the back.
“It’s always like that in IndyCar,” Power said. “You can never predict what’s going to happen. We don’t know who is going to win, but that is the excitement of it. Never had so much depth in the field of drivers. There are no bad drivers. You go to the field, and you have 20 guys there. All of these guys can win. Given the right equipment and day, they can win races.
“I hope IndyCar gets that after how difficult this series is. I think they need to. I don’t think enough people know about it, you know, how many good drivers there are in this series.”