BALTIMORE, Md. (September 1, 2012) – Will Power continued his quest for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship Saturday by winning the pole position for the Grand Prix of Baltimore.
Power was clocked at 77.9750 around the 13-turn, 2.04-mile street course in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet during the Firestone Fast Six pole shootout. His fast time was nearly 0.6 seconds ahead of the second-fastest qualifier, Mike Conway.
“It was important to get the pole in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet car,” said Power, who now has five poles in 2012 and 29 in his IndyCar career. “On a course like this it is important to start up front and additionally we gained one more point toward the Championship. It is a lot easier to control your own destiny when you are up front. Tomorrow we’ll focus on the job at hand and think about this race and doing the best we can – the best I can and the best that the team can.”
Ryan Briscoe recorded the seventh-fastest lap in the second group of the first round of qualifying with a time of 78.8872 and barely missed making it to the second round. The No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet will start 14th in Sunday’s race.
“The No. 2 PPG machine ran great today and it's upsetting that we weren't able to advance, but that's how competitive this series is,” said Briscoe, who had earned his way into the Firestone Fast Six in four of the last five races. “We have a really strong car and we'll see what we can do with it tomorrow.”
Helio Castroneves, who trails teammate Power by 42 points in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings with two races remaining, posted a lap of 78.9533 in the No. 3 Penske Truck Rental Dallara/Chevrolet during the second qualifying session. He’ll start 16th Sunday.
“I’m a little frustrated because I know the Penske Truck Rental team gave me a great car today and I was looking forward to qualifying,” said Castroneves, a two-time race winner this season. “With what happened in the first session (a caution flag prevented drivers from turning fast laps late in the session) I wanted to make sure we had enough time but I didn’t get much space between me and Justin (Wilson). I slowed down on the lap that could have put us in the Fast Six and unfortunately pushed too hard the next lap. Now we have to refocus for tomorrow and go get a win.”
On Sunday, Power will defend his 2011 victory from the pole in the inaugural Grand Prix of Baltimore. The Australian driver has 10 wins in his 28 previous starts from the pole. After earning one bonus point for winning the pole, Power is now 37 points ahead of second-place title contender Ryan Hunter-Reay and Power could mathematically clinch his first IZOD IndyCar Championship if he emerges with a 54-point lead on Sunday.
“This track is very physical – there are lots of turns and not many straights, especially now that they have added the chicane (in Turn 13),” said Power, has four podiums, including two wins, this season on tracks where he was victorious in 2011. “Over the last few weeks we’ve done what we needed to do and we want to continue. This track is physical, but it is the same for everyone. It’s going to be a good show for the Baltimore fans and we’ll be plenty busy in the cars tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be looking forward not back, that’s for sure.”
Rain is in the forecast for Sunday, but Power said that won’t change his focus. “We’ll deal with whatever comes our way,” said the driver that finished as series runner-up in each of the last two seasons. “Whatever happens we just need to be ready for it. Until the rain comes, it’s not actually here. If it comes, we know what we have to do.”
Source: Team Penske