FORT WORTH, Texas -- Will Power earned his second consecutive Verizon P1 Award for the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway with a two-lap average speed of 218.896 mph on the 1.455-mile, high-banked oval.
Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, broke a tie with Dario Franchitti for sixth on the all-time Indy car list with his 34th pole and second of the season. He added a bonus point to his increase his series championship points lead to 20 over teammate Helio Castroneves.
"I was actually surprised by the speed on the first lap (219.550 mph) and thought 'I have to do it again,' '' said Power, who has started in the top five at Texas the past six years and won in 2011. "I'm very focused on the race. Last year, Helio was very strong so I'll try to get a car that strong for the race if I can."
Castroneves, who on June 1 won the second round of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans, led 132 of the 228 laps last June in winning for the fourth time at Texas. He qualified 16th (216.591) in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske car for the 248-lap race (8 p.m. ET June 7 on NBCSN).
Click it: Will Power post-qualifying news conference || Firestone 600 qualifying results
Four different teams are represented in the top five and seven in the top 10.
Josef Newgarden will start second in the No. 67 Strike/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, recording his best qualifying effort in his third Verizon IndyCar Series season with a two-lap average of 217.835 mph. He was the only driver to improve his speed from Lap 1 to 2 (217.446 mph to 218.225). Newgarden's previous best qualifying position on an oval was fourth at Auto Club Speedway in the 2012 season finale.
"I was happily surprised," said Newgarden, of Hendersonville, Tenn. "We worked mainly on race stuff this morning (in the lone practice session). The name of the game is how to reduce tire degradation during the course of a run, so that's what we focused on. We didn't go super conservative for qualifying, but we didn't go to the edge. The car was really fast. It's almost like opening a gift at Christmas and getting what you want."
Newgarden started second in the 2012 race at Long Beach because of penalties, and his best qualifying on a road/street course is fourth at Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park this season.
Tony Kanaan, who wrapped up his 2004 series championship at Texas Motor Speedway, and Juan Pablo Montoya will start on Row 2. Kanaan, the first of the 22 qualifiers with an ambient temperature of 88 degrees, posted a two-lap average of 217.826 mph in the No. 10 Suave for Men entry for Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry. Montoya had competed in 17 NASCAR races at the speedway, but is making his first Indy car start. His two-lap average of 217.724 mph in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car was a season high.
Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter (217.677) in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car will be on Row 3 with Simon Pagenaud (217.222), driving the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car.
“We attacked today differently than qualifying for Indianapolis, focusing much more on the race pace than qualifying," Pagenaud said. "It was a bit hairy during my qualifying run. We trimmed out as much downforce as possible, but qualifying runs are supposed to be on the edge. The car feels really light when you’re running like that, but it’s fun. I think we’ve got a good race package, and I’m feeling very confident with it.”
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