Team Penske has dominated qualifying for Sunday night’s IndyCar Series curtain-closer at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway, with Will Power denying teammate and championship contender Hélio Castroneves an important bonus championship point after he beat his Brazilian teammate to pole position in Friday’s qualifying session.
Castroneves – who lies 25 points behind his sole title rival, Scott Dixon – had been on course to claim top spot on the timesheets until Power’s final two-lap run on the two-mile super speedway. But the Australian edged ahead in his Chevrolet-powered car, lapping a full 1mph faster than the Brazilian to claim top spot.
Even if Castroneves had have claimed pole position, he wouldn’t have been able to start from the front row anyway, on account of a ten-place grid penalty that he and five other drivers – including Dixon – have earned for an unscheduled engine change.
Team Penske’s occasional third driver, AJ Allmendinger, will line up alongside Power on the front row after the Californian posted a brilliant third-fastest effort, despite not having sat in an IndyCar cockpit since June’s Grand Prix of Detroit double-header, where he crashed out on the opening lap of both races.
In his final appearance for the Dragon Racing team, Sébastien Bourdais qualified a solid fourth-fastest with his final run, which gives him a front-row start after Castroneves’ penalty.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball was fifth-fastest, ahead of oval special James Jakes in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda.
Championship leader Scott Dixon was seventh-fastest, but the Kiwi will start seventeenth for tomorrow’s 500-mile race. He needs to finish in sixth place or better to guarantee himself the 2013 Drivers’ Championship title.
The field had one last-minute change ahead of qualifying, with the Andretti Autosports team forced to call up Indy Lights driver Carlos Muñoz, after regular driver EJ Viso declared he was too unwell to compete this weekend. While Indy 500 ‘Rookie of the Year’ Muñoz did well to qualify fourteenth-fastest, paddock gossip suggests that Viso had pulled out because he is too nervous to compete on the daunting super speedway.
Saturday’s 250-lap race gets underway at 6:10pm local time, one hour later than originally scheduled.
2013 IndyCar Series MAVTV 500 World Championship – Qualifying Results:
|Driver||Entry / Team||Avg Speed|
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske – Chevrolet||220.775mph|
|2.||Hélio Castroneves*||Team Penske – Chevrolet||219.677mph|
|3.||AJ Allmendinger||Team Penske – Chevrolet||218.894mph|
|4.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||218.513mph|
|5.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||217.986mph|
|6.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||217.979mph|
|7.||Scott Dixon*||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||217.979mph|
|8.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||217.958mph|
|9.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet||217.932mph|
|10.||Josef Newgarden*||Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda||217.871mph|
|11.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||217.798mph|
|12.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||217.566mph|
|13.||Alex Tagliani||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||217.419mph|
|14.||Carlos Muñoz||Team Venezuela – Chevrolet||217.050mph|
|15.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||216.898mph|
|16.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH – Honda||216.447mph|
|17.||Oriol Servia||Panther Racing – Chevrolet||216.213mph|
|18.||Graham Rahal*||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||216.606mph|
|19.||JR Hildebrand||Barracuda Racing – Honda||215.967mph|
|20.||Tristan Vautier||SPH – Honda||215.207mph|
|21.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||214.679mph|
|22.||Sebastián Saavedra*||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||213.262mph|
|23.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||no time|
|24.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||no time|
|25.||Takuma Sato*||AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda||no time|
* Denotes ten-place grid penalty will be applied for an unscheduled engine change. Grid determined by the average speed over a two-lap run.