Penske dominated qualifying, with Will Power sitting on pole for the MAVTV 500.
Will Power, who is determined to win tomorrow night’s race unless it costs his Penske Racing teammate Helio Castroneves to lose the IZOD IndyCar championship, raced to the head of the pack with an average qualifying speed of 220.775 miles per hour.
He was the only car to exceed 220 mph in his average qualifying, but series current second place in points Castroneves also qualified second, which means that Power kept the ever competitive points leader Scott Dixon from earning the one point for the pole.
Also supporting the Team Penske effort will be A.J. Allmendinger who will drive the Captain’s #3 entry to ensure that Castroneves has all the on track support he needs.
The field will be equalized somewhat because both championship contenders will be changing their engines before the race and thus will each incur a 10 grid spot penalty for the start of the race. Thus, Castroneves will likely start twelfth and Dixon seventeenth.
It doesn’t take a psychic to figure out that both will race their hardest to the front, but then again, so will 23 other cars and the race is a long 500 miles to determine both the race winner and the 2013 Izod IndyCar Champion.
Power commented at the press conference following the qualifying session that, “the car was very quick in qualifying trim”. According to Castroneves, “the challenge is to race as hard as we can without taking anyone on our team out”. When asked what he would do if by the end of the race that if he was ahead of the quick Brazilian, Power said, “I would take a very high line if that happened”.
Dixon will have the support of veteran racer Alex Tagliani driving the #10 Target Car. Scott Dixon, along with the rest of the paddock, watched the horrifying accident two weeks ago at the second race in Houston, when his friend and teammate Dario Franchitti hit a catch fence on the temporary race circuit.
Because the Scotsman broke both his back and one of his ankles in that accident, he is not cleared to drive this final race of the season. While he clearly was not a fan of the circumstances that got him here, because Dario is Tag’s friend, too, he is very happy to be on such a team that is, “the standard for all other teams”.
Tagliani and Kimball will be charged with doing all they can to both keep Dixon out of trouble on the track, and if necessary, take away points that Castroneves could earn to help Dixon finalize the championship.
We should also mention that, with a 25 point lead, the series championship will most likely go to Scott Dixon. With 50 some odd points available to the winner and lap leaders, it will take a miracle akin to Lourdes for Castroneves to emerge as champion. But, it’s not over till it’s over.