Power Saves Record Lap For Last
STEAM CORNERS, Ohio — Will Power hopes his third pole of the season will equate into his fourth IZOD IndyCar victory of the season after he set a series-record to win the pole during Saturday’s Firestone “Fast Six” qualifications at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Power’s lap time of 1:05.6474 (123.825 miles per hour) in a turbocharged V6 Chevrolet engine around the 2.258-mile 12-turn road course broke the previous IZOD IndyCar Mid-Ohio record of 1:06.6693 set by Scott Dixon in 2009. More importantly, it gave Power one more point in the battle for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship as he trails points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay by 25 points entering Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
“I think our car was really good on used tires,” Power said. “I was surprised it had more grip than new tires. There was a lot of energy in that lap. It’s so bloody quick around here. Man, I got out of the car, I felt dizzy. I probably held my breath through a lot of the lap. It was good. I thought — I was determined to get a pole because I know track position is really important around here, and I know the weather can play a part in having a mixed up race tomorrow. We just need to be good in every situation and keep chipping away at the points lead that Hunter‑Reay’s got.”
Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, who is second in points 23 behind Hunter-Reay, was involved in a crash with Mike Conway in Saturday morning’s practice session and injured his hand. He was able to participate in qualifications but did not advance out of his round and qualified 13th after a lap time of 1:06.7041 in a Dallara/Chevrolet. He will actually start 23rd after his team made an “unapproved engine change” which results in a 10-grid-spot penalty.
“We were having a good session,” Castroneves said. “Finally I was getting the rhythm, especially since we didn’t get to test last week. I was really starting to understand what the car needs. Unfortunately when (Mike) Conway was coming out of the pits, he didn’t know where to go. He was trying to help me but it ended up hurting me because he was chasing one line to give me room. Everywhere I would pull; it ended up being the line he would take to help. It’s one of those instances where it’s better to keep your line and not try to help each other. I didn’t have enough time to brake and I hit him on the back and the steering knob was kind of like whiplash and I hit my hand. Thank God it’s not broken. It’s just a bruise.”
Point leader Hunter-Reay also did not make the “Fast Six” and starts eighth Sunday after a lap at 1:06.660 in a Dallara/Chevrolet.
“The race is going to be very close, and I think it’s going to be interesting,” Hunter-Reay said. “It will take qualifying laps for the whole race because the field is so tight. We’re disappointed not to make the (Firestone) Fast Six, but we expected the field to be close because of the open test here (last week). We’re going to make the most of it tomorrow.”
Power shares the front row with four-time IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, who qualified his Dallara/Honda at 1:05.8950 (123.360 mph). It is his fourth front row start at Mid-Ohio. He started on the pole here in 1998 and 1999 and started second in 2010.
“This course has got everything,” Franchitti said. “It’s got the fast corners, like turn one, turn 11, some slow stuff, a lot of technique and rhythm areas, too, a lot of undulation. I think Will said it yesterday or something, it reminds him of one of the tracks in the U.K., like Oulton Park or somewhere. It’s a lot warmer than it is at Oulton Park, but definitely one of the old school ones. I think we all enjoy driving here.”
Simon Pagenaud qualified a season-best third at 1:05.9038 (123.343 mph) in a Dallara/Honda. His previous best as was fourth at Long Beach and Belle Isle. Alex Tagliani qualified fourth at 1:06.0047 (123.155 mph) in a Dallara/Honda. He has qualified in the Firestone Fast Six in every session this season since Belle Isle but will be assessed a 10-grid spot penalty for an unapproved engine change.
Three-time Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon qualified fifth at 1:06.0967 (122.983 mph) in a Dallara/Honda. He has started in the top-six at Mid-Ohio in every start at the track since 2007.
“Not a bad session,” Dixon said. “We got everything we could out of the GE car. I thought I did a good lap. Hopefully we can turn it into a result tomorrow. Qualifying has been the relatively easy part so hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow.
“I think we can still win. We are starting fourth position because of Tagliani’s ten spot. Looking forward to tomorrow and could be kind of crazy with the weather.”
A cold front is supposed to move through the area in the morning and followed by a continuing chance of thunderstorms throughout the afternoon which could completely change the dynamic of this race.
“If it stays dry, obviously track position is very important here,” Franchitti said. “The push‑to‑pass with the delay is going to really make things interesting I think, wet or dry. That will be interesting, but track position is definitely always important. It’s nice to get another front row. I think that’s our sixth in a row, front row start. It’s nice to convert it into a decent result tomorrow. We’ve struggled with that bit recently.”
Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske rounded out the “Fast Six” at 1:06.2005 in a Dallara/Chevrolet.
New to this race is a tweak to the “Push-to-Pass” with a five-second delay from the time the button is pushed until the extra horsepower kicks it. That is used to keep it from being used defensively to keep from getting passed and more of an offensive tool to be used in order to pass another car.
“With the delay and everything with the 5 seconds you are going to see passing in turn four,” Dixon said. “It’s a very tight fuel window. I think you’ll see a very interesting day out there. It’s so close. I mean there was one-tenth that covered the whole ‘Fast Six’ in qualifying two, can’t get much closer than that.”
1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 01:05.6474 (123.825)
2. (10) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 01:05.8950 (123.360)
3. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 01:05.9038 (123.343)
4. (98) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 01:06.0047 (123.155)
5. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 01:06.0967 (122.983)
6. (2) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.2005 (122.791)
7. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 01:05.9405 (123.275)
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.0660 (123.041)
9. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.1142 (122.951)
10. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 01:06.1721 (122.843)
11. (22) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.2053 (122.782)
12. (18) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 01:06.6613 (121.942)
13. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.7041 (121.864)
14. (4) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.3768 (122.464)
15. (8) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.7101 (121.853)
16. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.4349 (122.357)
17. (14) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 01:06.7807 (121.724)
18. (15) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 01:06.4404 (122.347)
19. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.8433 (121.610)
20. (5) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 01:06.4511 (122.328)
21. (19) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 01:07.1234 (121.102)
22. (38) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 01:06.6250 (122.008)
23. (78) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 01:08.0737 (119.412)
24. (83) Giorgio Pantano, Dallara-Honda, 01:07.0348 (121.262)
25. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 01:08.5116 (118.649)
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