LONG POND, Pa. -- Andretti Autosport, an IZOD IndyCar Series team with deep roots at Pocono Raceway and in Pennsylvania, swept the front row for the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco on July 7 (noon ET on ABC).
A three-wide start for the first Indy car race since 1989 will be implemented on the 2.5-mile tri-oval with a 3,740-foot frontstraight for the 160-lap competition.
Marco Andretti obliterated the track record of 211.715 mph set by Emerson Fittipaldi on Aug. 19, 1989, with a two-lap average speed of 221.273 mph in the No. 25 RC Cola car. Reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was .1404 of a second back in the No. 1 DHL car, and James Hinchcliffe was third (220.431 mph) in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car.
Click it: Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco qualifying results
The last time a team swept a three-car front row in an Indy car event was the 1988 Indianapolis 500 with Penske Racing's Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser. Andretti and teammate Carlos Munoz earned front-row starts in the 97th Indianapolis 500 in May.
Andretti, third in the championship standings, desperately wants to earn his third career victory. Doing so at his "home race" (he's from Nazareth, Pa.) would be special. The Andretti family history at “The Tricky Triangle” includes Marco's grandfather, Mario Andretti, winning the 1986 Indy car race in which his father, Michael, won the pole. Mario won the pole for the 1987 race shortly after Marco was born.
"It's just an unbelievable team performance across the board," said Andretti, who earned his second Verizon P1 Award of the season. "Happy for the RC Cola guys and Andretti Autosport as a whole. We've been making statement after statement so it's a good feeling.
“So far it’s all we can ask for. Obviously, the race is what we came here for and if we can do it from the pole and take two trophies, why not? I think it’s going to play out a little bit like Indy. I think there’s going to be a lot of passing, contrary to what people are saying, and I think it’s going to be a lot of ‘right place in the right time.’ ''
Three-wide starts have been utilized annually for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race since 1921, and were used at Pocono Raceway and Ontario (Calif.) Speedway during the 1970s and ‘80s for the tracks’ Triple Crown legs. The addition this year of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown renews the tradition of the three superspeedway races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono and Ontario from 1971-1980 and from 1981-89 at Indianapolis, Pocono and Michigan International Speedway.
A three-wide start also will be utilized Oct. 19 in the season-closing MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, the lone driver with the opportunity to collect the $1 million Fuzzy's Triple Crown bonus for sweeping the three races, will start fifth in the No. 11 Sunoco "Turbo" car for KV Racing Technology-SH Racing.
Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car (220.286), will join Kanaan and championship points leader Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske car on Row 2.
Andretti Autosport's E.J. Viso, driving the No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo car, made contact with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier on his second qualifying lap. He was checked at the infield care center and cleared to drive. Alex Tagliani's No. 98 Barracuda Racing also made contact with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier on his first qualifying lap and was checked and cleared to drive.
Ryan Briscoe, who was competing in an American Le Mans Series race in Connecticut, did not make a qualifying attempt in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car.
Viso and Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (qualified seventh) and Dario Franchitti will incur 10-grid spot penalties for unapproved engine changes.