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 au Team Penske 218.519 mph
2. Simon Pagenaud fr Team Penske 218.441 mph
3. Hélio Castroneves br Team Penske 218.069 mph
4. Carlos Muñoz co Andretti Autosport 217.831 mph
5. Juan Pablo Montoya co Team Penske 217.530 mph
6. Graham Rahal us Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 217.438 mph
7. Scott Dixon nz Chip Ganassi Racing 217.411 mph
8. Tony Kanaan br Chip Ganassi Racing 217.337 mph
9. Charlie Kimball us Chip Ganassi Racing 217.323 mph
10. Sage Karam us Chip Ganassi Racing 216.920 mph
11. Marco Andretti us Andretti Autosport 216.876 mph
12. James Jakes uk Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 216.864 mph
13. Takuma Sato jp A.J. Foyt Enterprises 216.686 mph
14. Josef Newgarden us CFH Racing 216.210 mph
15. Ed Carpenter us CFH Racing 216.197 mph
16. Tristan Vautier fr Dale Coyne Racing 215.929 mph
17. Jack Hawksworth uk A.J. Foyt Enterprises 215.621 mph
18. Sébastien Bourdais fr KVSH Racing 215.303 mph
19. Ryan Briscoe au Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 215.162 mph
20. Gabby Chaves co Bryan Herta Autosport 215.146 mph
21. Ryan Hunter-Reay us Andretti Autosport 215.026 mph
22. Pippa Mann uk Dale Coyne Racing 214.654 mph
23. Stefano Coletti mc KV Racing Technology 211.930 mph

Image via US Racing

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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