IndyCar Series points leader Will Power has cemented his dominance of this weekend’s Grand Prix of Sonoma by leading an all-Australian, all-Penske front row for Sunday’s race around the twisty Californian circuit.
Power – who has been winless since the season’s fourth round at Sao Paulo – claimed pole position with a fastest ‘Fast Six’ qualifying lap of 1:17.2709, edging out team-mate and compatriot Ryan Briscoe by less than two-tenths of a second to claim top spot and a vital bonus championship point.
In what a dominant qualifying performance for the Team Penske outfit, all three cars made it into the final ‘Fast Six’ shootout for pole, with Hélio Castroneves qualifying fourth-fastest, ahead of the two Chip Ganassi entries of Scott Dixon (the winner last time out at Mid-Ohio) and reigning champion Dario Franchitti.
One of the sensations of qualifying was Sébastien Bourdais, who shrugged off a troubled last fortnight for the Dragon Racing outfit to finish a season’s best third-fastest.
Power’s closest championship rival, Ryan Hunter-Reay, harboured fears that the Penske outfit would prove unbeatable this weekend. His predictions rang true, with the American failing to make the ‘Fast Six’ qualifying cut. He will start from seventh place, the fastest of the Andretti Autosport team’s five drivers entered this weekend.
The team’s other championship challenger, James Hinchcliffe, could only manage the eleventh-quickest time as he too was bundled out in the second phase of qualifying. He will tart from eleventh place, two spots ahead of the team’s reserve driver Sebastián Saavedra, who was given his second outing of the season in an entry co-run by the AFS operation.
2012 IndyCar Series GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Final Qualifying Results: