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Will Power joins elite group with career pole position No. 50

by Mike Haag | Posted on Friday, August 25th, 2017

Courtesy of the Verizon IndyCar Series

MADISON, Illinois – Andretti, Foyt, Castroneves … and now Power.

Will Power joined an elite group of 50-time Indy car pole winners when he captured the Verizon P1 Award in record fashion this evening at Gateway Motorsports Park. Power will lead the Verizon IndyCar Series field to the green flag to start Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline.

Will Power with the Verizon P1 Award after winning the pole for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park — Photo by: Chris Jones

BOMMARITO AUTOMOTIVE GROUP 500: Qualifying results

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power turned two laps at an average of 189.642 mph under twilight conditions. Power’s first lap of 189.709 mph (23.7206 seconds) shattered the 20-year-old track record set by Raul Boesel (24.324 seconds, 187.963 mph) in qualifying for the first Indy car race at the 1.25-mile, egg-shaped oval in 1997.

With 50 poles in his 13-year Indy car career, Power is tied with Helio Castroneves for third on the all-time list. The Team Penske teammates trail only legends Mario Andretti (67) and A.J. Foyt (53) in Indy car annals.

“The Verizon Chevy is very quick, obviously,” Power said. “Fantastic, 50 poles. Wow! I never would have dreamed of that when I started. I am very humbled to be up there with A.J. Foyt and Helio Castroneves.”

Power, who won last week’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, collected his sixth pole position of the season and led a Team Penske sweep of the first four qualifying spots. Championship leader Josef Newgarden was second in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet (188.316 mph).

“I knew it would be tough to keep Will out of that top spot,” said Newgarden, who equaled his season-best qualifying effort of second accomplished last month at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “Sure, I would like to have the pole position, but we’re right there. I think we’ll get there, so it’s nothing that’s super disappointing or anything. We’ll start second and see what happens.”

Castroneves was third in the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet (187.457 mph) and 2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud fourth in the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet (186.747 mph).

Power has now won six or more pole positions in four seasons (eight each in 2010 and ’11, six in 2015). Team Penske has won 10 of the 15 pole positions this season and now has 255 poles in its Indy car history.

“Very gratifying,” Power said. “We got all four Penske guys up there. … I love oval racing. It was something that took me time to learn, but once I learned it, it has been good.”

Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter was the top non-Penske qualifier, ranking fifth in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing (184.528 mph). Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato was sixth in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (184.186 mph).

Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais made his return to competition following the May 20 crash in Indianapolis 500 qualifying that left the four-time Indy car champion with factures to his right hip and pelvis. Bourdais qualified 19th in the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda.

“It was a disappointing qualifying run,” Bourdais said. “I knew coming in that it was going to be somewhat difficult. I don’t have the confidence and I didn’t get a good read on the qualifying trim in our simulation run in practice, so we stayed a bit careful with the balance of the car and I wasn’t aggressive enough with it.

“It’s a bit of a shame. The guys did a really good job and the car is actually pretty good in race trim, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

With three races remaining in the 2017 season, Newgarden holds an 18-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who qualified seventh (183.848 mph). Castroneves trails Newgarden by 22 points, Pagenaud is 26 points back and Power, with the point earned for winning the pole, is 41 points behind the leader.

A taped replay of qualifying airs at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN. The 21-car field returns for a pit stop practice/competition that takes place at 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday and streams live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.

Indy cars raced at Gateway Motorsports Park annually from 1997-2003, but this year marks the Verizon IndyCar Series’ first return since then. Live coverage of the 248-lap event begins at 9 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.  

 

 

 

“What They’re Saying” from Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline qualifying

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I wish we could gone out a little later, but nothing I can do about that. The Menards Chevrolet felt very comfortable. I like how the track feels. They did a great job with it. We’ll start fourth, which is good, but I have my three Team Penske teammates in front of me, which will make it more difficult. And unfortunately, those aren’t the only cars to be concerned with. I think the race will be very competitive. Everyone will have to have complete focus and that’s not always the easiest thing. It’s not like Pocono where there are some long straights to take a little break. Turning 24-second laps is pretty quick, but we’re definitely looking forward to going for a win like we had at Phoenix.”
 
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “We put together a great couple of laps in the PPG Chevy. I knew it would be tough to keep Will (Power) out of that top spot. That’s one of the great advantages of going last. We share all of our information. Sometimes I’ve been on the good side of that and sometimes I haven’t. That’s one of the hallmarks of Team Penske – it’s all one team. Sure, I would like to have the pole position, but we’re right there. I think we’ll get there, so it’s nothing that’s super disappointing or anything. We’ll start second and see what happens.”
 
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet): “What a run. We had a really fast car, but not enough for the pole. Still, we had a really fast car. The No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet will definitely have a great starting spot, so it’s all about maintaining a good spot towards the front of tomorrow’s race. The track is really smooth and it’s great. I’m really excited for tomorrow night’s race at Gateway.” 

CONOR DALY (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It’s a good day for the team obviously to have both cars in the top 11. Really wanted to qualify a little bit better than I did because we’ve been fast here in previous sessions. Just had a big moment in Turn 1 – the car was a little bit loose. We’re starting quite a bit forward than we normally do, so that’s a good thing. I think we’ve always had better cars in the race, so I’m excited for tomorrow night.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): 
“The Arrow car feels really good – huge credit to the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports guys for finding some extra speed. We didn’t get the cleanest qualifying sims in practice, so we knew there was more in the tank. I wish we had gotten one of them in because knowing what I know now, if we had that in practice, we could have maybe snuck a little bit more out of it. That was certainly a solid run for us, and we’re starting in front of some good Hondas, so hopefully we can stay in the sharp end of it and have a good race tomorrow.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda):“There’s quite a bit of pressure qualifying first. I haven’t been to a short oval in a while and one hour (of practice) just isn’t enough to get up to speed. Altogether, every lap I think I’m learning something different. There was definitely not a lot of downforce commitment on our side because we wanted to keep it on the safe side, but it shows overall speed. I’m looking forward to see what’s going to happen tonight.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Honda): “We had good balance in the Gallagher car today, and in qualifying, I gave it my best shot. In this situation you are where you are and we just did our job and kept things consistent. That’s really all you can do here.” 

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 NTT Data Honda): “I think this weekend is going to be pretty tough for us from what we saw at the test. I was second at the last test and the other manufacturer was still four or five tenths up the road. The problem is that for a short oval, the straight at Gateway is so long, and so I think it will be like Phoenix (where myself and teammate Tony Kanaan finished fifth and sixth), but a lot worse. But you know, I could be wrong. There have been times when I’ve been surprised how competitive we’ve been considering what we know about the aero kit deficit. I think we’re one of the teams that knows the difference between the two kits through and through, and it’s a huge downforce penalty and a ton more drag, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Honda): “I’m not happy with that at all. We trimmed the car out quite a bit for qualifying and it just didn’t come together like we thought it would. It didn’t help that we went so early on in the qualifying order and the temperature dropped drastically once the sun went down about mid-qualifying, but regardless we just didn’t have it today. We have a lot of work to do to the car for sure, but I’m excited to see what the car will do in practice tonight in race trim.”  

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “That was awesome. Reaching 50 Verizon P1 Awards is a huge accomplishment for myself and my team. They always give me a strong setup going into qualifying for the No. 12 Verizon Chevy and they just continue to do a great job. We were lucky that we went out last which was a huge advantage since we share data throughout the team. We’re really excited about tomorrow’s race, especially starting from the front with all of my teammates right behind me.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m very happy in general. I think it’s our best qualifying run of the year on the ovals. Really happy to be in the top 10. I knew we had a good car from testing. We have one more practice to go so, we need to make some changes to improve it for the race tomorrow night.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda): 
“I think the Fifth Third car has been strong in practice so far, we just didn’t trim enough for qualifying. We got too conservative. We didn’t anticipate the track gripping up like it did. The thing was too pinned in Turns 3 and 4, and our limit was to try to make sure it was on edge there and lift in Turns 1 and 2 and we weren’t on edge at all. It was a good, solid run, though. We would have liked to have been a little bit quicker, but we will focus on the hour of practice time tonight and improve for the race.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda): 
“It was a disappointing qualifying run. I knew coming in that it was going to be somewhat difficult. I don’t have the confidence and I didn’t get a good read on the qualifying trim in our simulation run in practice, so we stayed a bit careful with the balance of the car and I wasn’t aggressive enough with it. It’s a bit of a shame. The guys did a really good job and the car is actually pretty good in race trim, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

ED JONES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “I really like the track with the new pavement. It’s smooth and a lot of fun to drive. The conditions changed so much with the temperature going down from practice and it really makes a big difference around here. We had a solid first practice, but we had a bit too much oversteer in qualifying. I had to save it a few times and it killed the speed a bit. The car wasn’t like that in practice, but we should have a good race car for tomorrow and hopefully we can move forward.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “We’re all still learning about this track. The first practice, that’s all we were doing – just trimming and trimming, trying to go quicker. We missed on the gears in practice too, so we knew there was time left in the car coming into qualifying. Team Penske was just a little more aggressive than us when it came down to qualifying. This next practice session is going to be crucial as well. It’s our last chance to really sort out our race downforce.”
 
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): 
“It’s been a little bit tough just to hit the downforce level. The track is really good since they repaved it, we undershot on how fast we could go even at the trim level we were at. This morning’s session was super hectic, everyone was running around in the draft and it was hard to see where you were at. The Fuzzy’s Vodka boys did a really good job, the car feels really good. We’ll be in good shape for the race.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda): “This is a high-commitment racetrack… in terms of top speed here is a lot slower than at Pocono, of course, but in terms of commitment it really helps the driver at the same time. I think the track got better and better as the sun set, but I think we should be happy under the circumstances with sixth and being the top Honda.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda): “The car was pretty loose on our run; I had a pretty big moment and had to really work at it. We really went for it on aero balance, but it cut me out a little bit. We didn’t stack up where we were hoping, but we went out early on. An early [qualifying order] draw is not in your favor as the track temps drop. But, the team has been working really hard and we’ll do everything we can to fight our way through the field tomorrow.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We tried to be pretty aggressive on the trim level; (the car) just got light on me a bit in Turn 1 and I had to pedal it, which just killed our lap average. On the second lap, I was able to carry quite a bit more throttle by making some adjustments in the cockpit, but it just wasn’t enough. We were pretty early in the lineup and were hoping we’d settle out around seventh or eighth, not 14th. Hopefully we can have our short oval magic for the DHL car tomorrow. So, not the qualifying we were hoping for, but we certainly enjoy being back here at Gateway (Motorsports Park).”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Tresiba Honda): “The track is just constantly changing, even from this afternoon’s practice session to qualifying. With the new asphalt, the track is rubbering in almost every lap. The balance was pretty good on the No. 83 Tresiba Honda there in qualifying, so I was pretty happy with that. We just needed a little more speed that we couldn’t find. We’re right there with my teammate Tony (Kanaan), so we’ll just see where we shake out.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda): “I think the car is about there, but I think we missed a couple of positions. It was just an average run for me really, I mean Takuma (Sato) was sixth, so there was probably three spots of potential left in the No. 98. We knew it was going to be difficult with the other manufacturer, so we’ll have to just capitalize on anything that comes our way tomorrow and make sure we don’t make any mistakes. If we do that, we’ll for sure move forward a couple spots.”

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.