Will Power wins Verizon P1 pole award to lead Team Penske St. Pete qualifying with Helio Castroneves earning a fifth-place starting spot in the IndyCar first race of the new season.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 23, 2013) – Four in a row translated to a good start to the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season for Team Penske on Saturday.
Power was clocked at 61.2070 seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. After posting the fastest time in Friday afternoon practice, Power backed it up through the Firestone Fast Six qualifying session to earn his 30th career pole.
His lap was more the two-tenths of a second faster than his lap that topped the speed chart on Friday.
“I guess it’s a good thing as the Verizon driver that I won the first Verizon P1 Pole Award,” said Power. “I thought (qualifying) was going to be very tight. The car was very tight on new tires but we made a few changes for the last run and it was good to see some new people up there.”
The defending race winner at St. Pete, Castroneves ran strong throughout all three rounds of qualifying. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner posted a top time of 61.8991 seconds in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. It marks the seventh top-five qualifying effort in eight previous races on the streets of St. Pete.
“I am proud of the Hitachi Team Penske guys. They made some major adjustments from the morning to put us in a great starting position for the race,” said Castroneves, a three-time winner on the streets of St. Pete who also started from the fifth position for his wins in 2006 and 2012. “Our car was better than fifth to be honest, but that is where we started last year so I'm hoping it is lucky for me again this year. The Team Chevy cars looked really strong out there; I am expecting it to be a very competitive race.”
With rain potentially in the forecast for Sunday, Power said the race could be a wild one. ““It depends on how the weather is,” said Power. “If it’s a pretty straightforward race, it’s great for us, if not, it’s just going to be one of the typical mixed up IndyCar races where no one knows who’s going to win. We just have to be smart and keep heading towards what we’ve wanted for a long time, which is a championship.”
Castroneves and Power will be looking for Team Penske’s sixth win in the last eight years at St. Pete when the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg gets the green flag on Sunday. Race coverage begins at noon ET on NBC Sports Network.