Will Power has finally brought an end to a four-month-long drought of pole positions by claiming the all-important top starting position for this weekend’s IndyCar Series round at Mid-Ohio.
The Penske driver claimed top spot with a 1:05.6474 lap time to beat long-time rival Dario Franchitti to pole; the Scot will start alongside the Australian on the front row of the grid in his Chip Ganassi entry.
The result was a massive boost for Power’s faltering championship ambitions, particularly on account of the qualifying failure suffered by two of his main championship rivals.
Points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay was knocked out of contention in the second phase of qualifying, while Hélio Castroneves was bumped out in the first ‘group’ segment. The Brazilian was perhaps still suffering the effects of an earlier practice collision with Mike Conway that left him with a badly-bruised hand, and his plight was exacerbated further with news that he would take a ten-place grid penalty after an unscheduled engine change.
The sharp end of the grid saw leading rookie driver Simon Pagenaud snaffle third spot, while the evergreem Alex Tagliani was fourth-fastest in his Bryan Herta entry.
Three-time Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon was fifth-quickest in his Ganassi entry – an important result if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive – while Ryan Briscoe was sixth-quickest in the sister Penske.
The top-ten was made up of Sébstien Bourdais, Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden.
Qualifying saw some rather more surprising results from some more-fancied contenders, with none of the KV Racing entrants making it into Round 2, while Takuma Sato – who narrowly lost out on a win last time out at Edmonton – also had an early bath, along with Graham Rahal.
IndyCar returnee Giorgio Pantano was the slowest of the ‘Group 2’ runners as he stood in for the injured Ganassi driver Charlie Kimball.
Sunday’s race is expected to be rain-affected, meaning fans can hopefully expect a race featuring more overtaking and on-track action than has typically been the case at Mid-Ohio.
2012 IndyCar Series Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Final Qualifying Results:
* Will incur a ten-place grid penalty for an engine change