Helio Castroneves continued his chase for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship by qualifying in the seventh position.
BALTIMORE, Md. – Fresh from his victory last weekend in Sonoma, Team Penske’s Will Power qualified on the front row for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore to lead Team Penske.
Power’s lap of 1:18.1171 around the 12-turn, two-mile street circuit in Baltimore’s inner harbor led the Firestone Fast Six session until rival Scott Dixon recorded a lap of 1:18.0838 to take over the top spot.
Power was still on track in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske machine and he had another chance to top Dixon’s lap, but he wasn’t able to post a faster time as his bid fell short to win a third consecutive pole at Baltimore.. However, he maintained the second spot and will start alongside Dixon when the green flag waves to begin Sunday’s race.
"It was a tough qualifying, man, but we gave it everything we had in the Verizon Team Penske Chevy,” Power said. “Our chance to get pole really came the lap before our final lap but we just couldn't get there.”
Castroneves recorded a lap of 1:19.0288 in the No. 3 PPG Automotive Finish Dallara/Chevrolet. Though he was unable to make it to the Fast Six final session, he will start inside the fourth row when the race begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. An incident involving two cars forced a red flag toward the end of second-round qualifying before Castroneves could take a shot at posting his fastest lap
"In qualifying today, it's one of those deals where on the odds you're thinking to wait a little bit and it might pay off because the track might be better,” said Castroneves, who’s lead in the championship standings is now 38 points over Dixon with the point Dixon earned for today’s pole. “Unfortunately, it didn't pay off for us as the red flag came out and ended the second qualifying a little early.”
Power earned his first victory of 2013 on Sunday, ending a 25-race winless streak – the longest of Power’s IndyCar career. Now he’ll look to put together consecutive wins at a race he won in 2011. He enters Sunday’s race ranked eighth in the series standings.
“It should be a good race tomorrow,” said Power, who earned his third front row start in a row at Baltimore and his sixth front row start this season. “With the chicanes, especially, there could be a lot of action and I expect it will be another good battle."
For Castroneves, Saturday’s result equaled his best qualifying effort at Baltimore. He also qualified seventh in 2011 but he had to start the race from the back of the field as he was forced to go to his backup car after the primary was involved in a morning practice accident when it was struck by the car of Tony Kanaan.
“The PPG Team Penske boys will keep working and move forward so we can get that Chevy to the front in tomorrow's race," said Castroneves.
NBC Sports Network’s live broadcast of Sunday’s race begins at 2 p.m. ET.