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05/12 2018

WILL POWER LOOKING FOR INDYCAR VERSION OF A HAT TRICK AFTER WINNING GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS POLE

Will Power won the 51st pole of his career Friday at Indy.PHOTO BY MOTORSPORT IMAGES-LAT

Wins 51st career pole in final seconds of qualifying

BY:  BRUCE MARTIN

Will Power’s plans for an IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis “three-peat” goes something like this.

Win the pole, win the race.

He did that in 2015 by winning both the pole, and the race the following the day. And he did it again last year by sweeping both the pole and the race.

Power won his third IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis pole Friday at theIndianapolis Motor Speedway, when he had the fastest lap during the Firestone “Fast Six.”

See a trend developing?

Power certainly hopes so.

Power’s pole-winning lap was 1:09.8182 around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That was a speed of 125.761 miles per hour for the lap in his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.

“I know I’ve got the speed and we can put races together,” Power said. “I’m very stoked to start P1. Definitely a hard fight, a lot of really quick guys here and very good teams. Yeah, good start.

“It’s definitely satisfying when you get a pole like this. You’ve got to work so hard for it these days, so when you get one, you’re pretty happy because you’re beating I reckon the best guys in the world. Yeah, I like to give the young blokes a hard time when I can. I hate saying that now because I don’t class myself as old.”

It was a frantic final minute in the Fast Six as Sébastien Bourdais moved to the top with 1 minute to go when he was ahead of Power, but rookie Robert Wickens took over the lead with 20 seconds to go. But it was Power who took over the pole seconds after the session ended. Wickens made it close by coming into second as the last car on the track with a lap at 1:09.9052 (125.604 mph) in a Honda for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports. He didn’t test on this course last month and admitted he didn’t expect to be this strong.

“I had all the faith in my team we would be competitive,” Wickens said. “I didn’t get to test here because of an injury. We had a bad rehearsal and then a good gig. We turned it around after the first practice but in Q3 I made a mistake on the first lap. I had to do a second lap. I just missed it.

“It’s bittersweet. I feel like a jerk being upset by being second but when you are fast in your first two quallies, you hope to finish the job off. But both of us at Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports are in the Fast Six and have a good shot at it on Saturday.”

Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing was next in another Honda at 1:09.9449 (125.533 mph) followed by SPM driver James Hinchcliffe’s Honda at 1:10.0858 (125.281 mph), rookie Jordan King’s No. 20 Chevrolet at 1:10.1326 (125.197 mph) and defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden rounding out the Fast Six at 1:10.7276 (124.144 mph) in the No. 1 Verizon Chevrolet.

“The big thing was getting in the Fast Six — that was my goal,” Newgarden said. “We’ve been in the top 10 but was just hovering. Will put in a good lap at the end. I think we would have been OK. We had potential for third or fourth but had a huge lockup in Turn 1 with the rear. I think we were in that third to fourth range.

“I’m happy to be in the Fast Six range. We just have to keep going and make it last on Saturday.”

Two-time IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Simon Pagenaud barely missed the “Fast Six” and will start seventh at 1:10.0382 (125.366 mph). Other big names to miss the “Fast Six” were Alexander Rossi, who starts seventh, Hélio Castroneves returning to IndyCar for the first time this season and starts 10th, defending Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato starts 11th, Tony Kanaan 12th, Ryan Hunter-Reay 13th, Graham Rahal 17th and Scott Dixon 18th.

“We made a pretty big swing and weren’t happy with the car after practice two,” Dixon said. “We’re just struggling overall. When the track heated up today, we struggled even more so. We have the option with the warmup in the morning, but we’ll try to figure it out tonight.”

Meantime, up front, it was Power’s first Verizon P1 Award of 2018. It is the 51st pole of Power’s IndyCar career, which breaks a tie with Castroneves for third all time.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Power said when asked about the big-name drivers who missed the Fast Six. “You look at the competition, the guys that are up here, it’s totally expected. Young guys are coming in, rookies are really fast, and obviously guys that have been around a long time and won championships.

“It’s just the tightest field there’s ever been in IndyCar, and the level of the teams is the best it’s ever been, so it’s no surprise the way it is right now.”

A Team Penske driver has won four of the five poles here on the IMS road course. It is the team’s 258th Indy car pole

“We did have to dig deep — that was everything I had,” Power said. “We made a downforce adjustment after the first round when we saw how fast the other guys were and kind of got close to them and on used tires the car was really good so, stoked, man, really, really, stoked.

“I think the race car is good. It was good on used tires, so we have a warm up tomorrow to try some things and just try to execute. It’s been a rough start to the season.”

That sent 12 impressive drivers into the Second Segment that would determine the makeup of the “Fast Six.”

At the end of the session, some big names missed advancing into the Fast Six, including two-time winner Pagenaud, seventh at 1:10.0382 and rising star Rossi at 1:10.1062. Also missing the cut were Spencer Pigot at 1:10.1601, Castroneves at 1:10.1847, Sato at 1:10.1979 and Kanaan’s 1:10.3592.

“We made major improvements with the race car, but we were a little behind for the season,” Pagenaud said. “I thought the car had more pace and could contend for the pole. But it will be good racing on Saturday and hopefully we have a fast car.

“I think we have a really good race car, so anything is possible. It drafts so much on that straightaway. I’m confident with my race car.”

Castroneves said he needed more laps but said the field is very tight.

“I’m happy to be back and that is one of the things that is great to hear,” Castroneves said.

Advancing into the Fast Six were Wickens at 1:09.8481, King at 1:08.8579, Power at 1:09.9156, Hinchcliffe at 1:09.9570, Bourdais at 1:09.9973 and Newgarden at 1:10.067.

That set the stage for the “Fast Six.”

And Power is hoping the pole sets the stage for his third IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis victory in five years.

Power hopes to win his third IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis Saturday.PHOTO BY MOTORSPORT IMAGES-LAT

IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis Qualifying Results

  1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 1:09.8182 (125.761 mph)

    2. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 1:09.9052 (125.604)

    3. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 1:09.9449 (125.533)

    4. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1:10.0858 (125.281)

    5. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 1:10.1326 (125.197)

    6. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:10.7276 (124.144)

    7. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 1:10.0382 (125.366)

    8. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 1:10.1062 (125.244)

    9. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 1:10.1601 (125.148)

    10. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 1:10.1847 (125.104)

    11. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 1:10.1979 (125.081)

    12. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 1:10.3592 (124.794)

    13. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 1:10.0985 (125.258)

    14. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 1:10.1044 (125.247)

    15. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 1:10.2859 (124.924)

    16. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 1:10.2113 (125.057)

    17. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:10.3605 (124.792)

    18. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 1:10.3221 (124.860)

    19. (19) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 1:10.5064 (124.533)

    20. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 1:10.3371 (124.833)

    21. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 1:10.6425 (124.293)

    22. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 1:10.5066 (124.533)

    23. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 1:10.7784 (124.055)

    24. (32) Kyle Kaiser, Chevrolet, 1:10.7394 (124.123)