DAY THREE OF NIKON INDY 300 IS POWER-PACKED Will Power has re-written history at day three of the Nikon Indy 300, becoming the first driver to win three pole positions on the Gold Coast (2006, 2007, 2008) and the only one to secure the pole spot...
DAY THREE OF NIKON INDY 300 IS POWER-PACKED
Will Power has re-written history at day three of the Nikon Indy 300, becoming the first driver to win three pole positions on the Gold Coast (2006, 2007, 2008) and the only one to secure the pole spot in three consecutive years.
Second and third fastest went to Power's fellow 'Down Under' drivers -- Brisbane-born Kiwi Scott Dixon and Sydney's Ryan Briscoe, while Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves rounded out the fast six, with both Franchitti (2003 Gold Coast winner) and Briscoe praising the Event in the post-qualifying press conference.
Today's pole position is Will Power's first since the unification of the Champ Car World Series and the IndyCar Series at the start of 2008, and allows him to claim the record after being tied with Nigel Mansell (1993, 1994), Dario Franchitti (1998, 1999) and Michael Andretti (1991, 1995) on two poles up until today.
The session was a difficult one for the entire field with rain in the earlier segments, but with the track drying and improving with every lap in the final sector there was a furious battle for the top spot with Power securing it with a flying lap, snatching it from Dixon at the final opportunity by lapping at an average speed of 105.977mph (1m 34.9451s) to Dixon's 105.067mph (1m 35.7672s).
Also flying the flag for the home state was Jamie Whincup in the Australian V8 Supercar Series -- with the Ford driver leading the 27 lap race from start to finish despite earnest challenges for the lead from Holden driver and championship contender Garth Tander over the closing five laps of the race with Mark Winterbottom also in hot pursuit.
Whincup was able to hold off Tander, who was close enough to almost touch in the closing three laps while the leaders negotiated lapped traffic, to claim the race win from pole position and continue his fast form of the weekend.
Also continuing to be on the pace was the Gold Coast's Craig Baird in the Haymans Electrical Porsche Carrera Cup, with the V8 Supercar Endurance Driver who secured the 2008 championship in the Porsche series last month now holding two wins from three this weekend, with the final jaunt to be run tomorrow morning.
Set to have a day off from racing tomorrow are the Coates Aussie Racing Car and Formula 3 categories, with both wrapping up their rounds today with their third and final races for the weekend.
V8 Supercar driver Paul Morris took the round win in the Aussie Racing Cars, with the Gold Coaster steering the smaller of his two Supercheap Auto Racing cars (Morris is also competing in the V8 Supercar Series this weekend).
John Martin took the round win in the Formula 3, but the reigning Champion of the category James Winslow claimed the final and dramatic race of the round at Surfers Paradise after Martin won the previous two after topping the qualifying session earlier in the Event.
Today saw 83, 337 people come through the date, which combines with yesterday's crowd numbers of 63,124 to give a three day total of 202,823.
With 96 hours of non-stop excitement over October 23-26 as the Gold Coast comes alive to the sound of the IndyCar Series burning up the track and Australia's own V8 Supercars scorching around one of the most famous beach-side cities in the world, the event is the hottest ticket in town.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY... Will Power: #8 Aussie Vineyards - Team Australia Honda/Dallara/Firestone -- INDYCAR SERIES "I've been in this position three years in a row, so we have to get it done," said Power
"It was quite a difficult session, to be honest. I went out there and half the track was wet and half the track was dry. It was a matter of getting through each round and in the last round it was all dry.
"It was back to what I knew quite well. Just before that last lap, I backed off and made sure I got a good run in. I'm very happy for the team.
"We turned up with a pretty good car out of the box and the guys did great work. Hopefully we can get it done this weekend, because that's what we've been trying to do for the last three years.
"I can't believe I have another pole start here. But, it's only the pole and the goal is to win the race on Sunday.
"That's the big prize here. It was a mega last lap. And I'm really happy for Craig Gore, Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser. They have supported me through my whole professional career so I am really happy them.
"I also want to thank everyone at KV Racing Technology -- Team Australia. Mark Johnson, Dave Brzozowski, the engineers and the entire crew has done a great job all weekend."
Dario Franchitti - #10 Target Chip Ganassi Honda/Dallara/Firestone -- INDYCAR SERIES "First of all, I want to say how much fun it is to come down here to race, and I hope the fans agree," said Franchitti.
"The PR has been brilliant. My first visit here was in 1997. I just wanted to say that (before talking about qualifying).
"The rain was a bit of a challenge. I haven't driven an IndyCar in the wet for a long tie. I overdrove and couldn't get the rhythm. For my first weekend back, it's a lot better than I expected."
Ryan Briscoe - #6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara/Firestone -- INDYCAR SERIES "First I want to echo what Dario said (about the Event and how it is promoted)," said Briscoe.
"(About qualifying) I was a bit nervous when the rain came down. It's never fun on a street course in the wet - pretty daunting.
"But the wet tires were good and there were no moments of aquaplaning - credit to Firestone. The track was just getting dry in the last corner. It was the first time I attacked the kerb as hard as I did. I rubbed the wall a bit."
Jamie Whincup: #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon BF -- V8 SUPERCARS "Obviously it was a tough race, but we got off to a great start," said Whincup.
"We led all the way going into turn one and had a great pit. I believe Garth had some lapped traffic coming out of the pits, which was an advantage to us.
"The car wasn't as quick (as the cars of Tander and Winterbottom) and we didn't get the maximum power out of it, Garth and Mark were coming on pretty strong and they had quicker cars.
"We'll have to make a few tweaks overnight and we also had a few issues in the cabin -- it just wasn't as smooth-sailing as we would have liked, but we did come out with maximum points at the end.
"It was all the championship contenders battling it out at the front... And that's what it is all about.
"I'm pretty happy with myself. We obliviously won and got maximum points, we've got to improve the car tomorrow... but we've got the right tools to do that."