Will Power has claimed an all-important fourth pole position in his 2014 IndyCar Series championship bid, giving himself the prime starting position for Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
The Team Penske looked set to start alongside teammate and chief championship rival Hélio Castroneves, only for the Brazilian to be stripped of his fastest Q3 lap time when officials ruled he had cut a corner. He now starts from sixth place and will have a tough task to eat into Power’s points lead at a track where overtaking is traditionally difficult.
The penalty elevated Josef Newgarden to second place, equaling the career-best front row start he managed a few weeks before at Mid-Ohio.
In another closely-fought qualifying battle, four different teams were represented in the final top-six shootout for pole. Defending champion and last weekend’s race-winner Scott Dixon was third-fastest, with James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top five.
Fellow championship aspirants Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud saw their hopes of championship glory dwindle further, qualifying tenth and fifteenth fastest respectively.
Many eyes, however, will be on Power, who heads into the season’s last two races with a healthy 40-point lead at a circuit where he’s tasted victory three times in the last four years. History, however, has not been in the Australian’s favour when he’s been in this position – on three occasions he’s seen his hopes of a maiden IndyCar crown go down the drain at the final hurdle, so a hefty points haul heading into next weekend’s double-points finale at Auto Club Speedway will keep the flame burning a little longer.
2014 IndyCar Series GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma – Qualifying:
|‘Fast Six’ Session||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:17.4126|
|2.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda||1:17.7318|
|3.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:17.9044|
|4.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:17.9565|
|5.||Ryan Briscoe||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:18.1217|
|6.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:18.8771|
|‘Round 2’ Session||Team / Entry||Time|
|7.||Sébastien Bourdais||KV Racing Technology Honda||1:17.7176|
|8.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:17.7231|
|9.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:17.7257|
|10.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:17.7499|
|11.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:17.7582|
|12.||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||1:18.7700|
|Group Sessions||Team / Entry||Time|
|13.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:18.2681|
|14.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda||1:18.1249|
|15.||Simon Pagenaud||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||1:18.2767|
|16.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||1:18.2296|
|17.||Mike Conway||Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet||1:18.3518|
|18.||Jack Hawksworth||Bryan Herta Autosport Honda||1:18.2310|
|19.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:18.8102|
|20.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda||1:18.4104|
|21.||Carlos Huertas||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||1:18.9603|
|22.||Sebastián Saavedra||KV Racing Technology / AFS Racing Honda||1:18.5202|
Image via Motorsport.com