Reigning IndyCar Series champion Will Power has claimed pole position for the third consecutive year and led another Team Penske front-row sweep for Saturday night’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Australian recorded a two-lap average speed of 218.519mph (351.672 kph), despite drawing the ballot to be the first of the 23-car field to attempt to post a qualifying time.
“When I drew No. 1 I was a bit worried about conditions, but it stayed consistent throughout the whole run of qualifying,” he said after equalling Rick Mears’ 40 Indy pole positions.
Aside from a wobbly showing at Long Beach, Power has started on the front row at every race to-date in 2015, and from pole position on four of those occasions.
While it might be his third pole position in a row at this very oval, he hasn’t celebrated a race win here since 2011, when the event was run in a double-header format as a pair of 275-mile races.
“The race will be interesting. There are many components you can put on the car to add downforce, but it’s really draggy so it’s going to be about finding the compromise between speed loss and grip. I’ve always liked this place a lot. The car moves around. I feel like it’s a real driver’s oval and I enjoy that. My wife’s from here, so I got the pressure to always do well. Otherwise, I won’t be invited to dinner!” he quipped.
Power’s teammate Simon Pagenaud, who was fastest in late morning practice, claimed his third front-row start of the season with a two-lap average of 218.441mph (351.546 kph).
“I just missed it by a little bit,” the Frenchman said afterwards.
Completing the Team Penske front row lockout was Hélio Castroneves – the most successful driver at this venue with four wins – who clocked a 218.069mph two-lap average.
The Brazilian narrowly outpaced Detroit Race 1 winner Carlos Muñoz, who will start from fourth place after an impressive showing in his seemingly inferior Honda-powered Andretti Autosport entry.
Indianapolis 500 winner and championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya qualified fifth-fastest in the fourth Penske entry, while the evergreen Graham Rahal completed the third row of the grid for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Despite having yet to win a race, the American is the best homegrown driver in the Drivers’ Championship standings in fifth place on the points board.
“Starting up toward the front with these boys is exactly where we need to be. Obviously, points are a big focus for us right now,” he reflected. “It is going to be a tough race; everybody is going to have to manage their tyres as well as they can. I feel like our race car is pretty good and I feel like track position is going to be pretty important here, too.”
The four Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet entries of Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam will start on the fourth and fifth rows respectively covering positions from seventh through to tenth.
The 600-mile race over 248 laps starts on Sunday night at 7:50pm local time (UTC -5).
|2015 IndyCar Series Firestone 600 – Final Qualifying Results|
|Grid||Driver||Team / Entry||Avg. Speed|
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||218.519 mph|
|2.||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||218.441 mph|
|3.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||218.069 mph|
|4.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport||217.831 mph|
|5.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske||217.530 mph|
|6.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||217.438 mph|
|7.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||217.411 mph|
|8.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing||217.337 mph|
|9.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||217.323 mph|
|10.||Sage Karam||Chip Ganassi Racing||216.920 mph|
|11.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||216.876 mph|
|12.||James Jakes||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||216.864 mph|
|13.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||216.686 mph|
|14.||Josef Newgarden||CFH Racing||216.210 mph|
|15.||Ed Carpenter||CFH Racing||216.197 mph|
|16.||Tristan Vautier||Dale Coyne Racing||215.929 mph|
|17.||Jack Hawksworth||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||215.621 mph|
|18.||Sébastien Bourdais||KVSH Racing||215.303 mph|
|19.||Ryan Briscoe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||215.162 mph|
|20.||Gabby Chaves||Bryan Herta Autosport||215.146 mph|
|21.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||215.026 mph|
|22.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||214.654 mph|
|23.||Stefano Coletti||KV Racing Technology||211.930 mph|
Image via US Racing
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