LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 4, 2012) – Will Power won the pole position Saturday for the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, leading an impressive performance by Team Penske.
Power recorded a record setting lap of 1:05.6474 around the 13-turn, 2.26-mile road course in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. It marks his third pole position of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season and the 27th of his career. Teammate Ryan Briscoe joined Power in the Firestone Fast Six final qualifying round and ended up earning a sixth-pace starting position for Sunday’s race while Helio Castroneves qualified 13th.
Power, who previously won the pole at Mid-Ohio in 2010, followed up his effort from Friday when he paced the field with the fastest lap as he turned in another impressive result on Saturday. Currently third place in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings, Power earned a championship point for the pole and he will go for his fourth win of 2012 and first win at Mid-Ohio on Sunday.
“This No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet has so much downforce around this place that it is so fun to drive, it is amazing,” said Power who also earned poles this season at St. Petersburg and Sao Paulo. “This session today is the hardest I have tried all year, I just kept pushing and pushing, I had to. It is the most that I have put into a lap. We needed that pole and it is so important to start up front and keep pushing so we have a chance for the Championship.”
Briscoe’s fast lap of 1:06.2005 in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet continued his qualifying success at Mid-Ohio as he has never qualified outside of the top-10 in five career races at the circuit. The 2008 Mid-Ohio race winner will start in the top-six for the fifth time this season as he attempts to win his first race of 2012
"We were struggling with understeer today,” said Briscoe. “We made changes for the Fast Six and I just couldn't carry the speed. It was a good run, though. I'm happy with the good starting spot for tomorrow as we go for the win."
Castroneves, the winner of the last race at Edmonton, will start 23rd after a tough day that started with his No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet colliding with Mike Conway’s car during the morning practice session. He was checked and released from the infield care center after the incident, but he struggled during his qualifying session with a bruised hand as a result of the crash and finished with a best time of 1:06:7041, which ranked 13th among the field of 25 drivers. Castroneves was later issued a 10-spot grid penalty due to an engine change on the No. 3 car made after the qualifying session and as a result he will start 23rd.
“We were having a good (practice) session,” said Castroneves. “Finally I was getting the rhythm, especially since we didn’t get to test (at Mid-Ohio) last week. I was really starting to understand what the car needs. The Penske Truck Rental team did a great job putting the car back together but 13th was obviously not the qualifying result we wanted. We are going to focus on what we need to do to win so that tomorrow we can have a great race.”
Power and Castroneves are battling for the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers’ championship, with Castroneves 23 points behind leader Ryan Hunter-Reay, who qualified eighth, and Power now just two points behind Castroneves in third place. After Mid-Ohio, just three races remain in the 2012 season.
“Tomorrow is going to be a great challenge,” said Power. “We know what it takes to get a win here and with not many races left in the season we need to be sure to execute.’
Live coverage of Sunday’s 85-lap race will begin at 1 p.m. ET on ABC-TV.
Source: Penske Team