INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – Team Penske’s Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet) went three-for-three today, leading both INDYCAR Grand Prix practice sessions, breaking the track record on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and earning his third Verizon P1 Award of the 2017 season with a fast lap of 1 minute, 7.7044 seconds (129.687 mph).
“The car was great on used tires,” said Power, whose 47th career pole places him fifth on the all-time list. “In the Fast Six, the car had a fantastic balance and did a really neat lap.”
Power’s fast lap – posted in the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three knockout qualifying rounds – beat his own previous record (1:08.6746) by nearly a full second and added to Team Penske’s unparalleled track record. The result scores the North Carolina-based squad its fifth pole position in as many races this season, as well as the 250th pole in its Indy car history.
INDYCAR GRAND PRIX: Qualifying results
Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), who has won the other two pole positions this season, qualified second at 1:08.1169, followed by Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, 1:08.1622) and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (No. 9 NTT Data Honda) on Row 2. Two-time Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya makes his return to Indy car racing this weekend, and will start fifth in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet (1:08.2478). Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Sonny’s BBQ Honda) will start alongside Montoya on Row 3 after making his first Firestone Fast Six of 2017 (1:08.3973).
Defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, 1:08.4461) missed the Firestone Fast Six for the third time this season, but by starting seventh, the Frenchman expects to contend for his third win at the INDYCAR Grand Prix.
“I think we’ll have a fresher set of red Firestone tires,” said Pagenaud, who by missing the Fast Six was able to save an additional set of Firestone alternate tires for the race. “That might help. And then, like it did last year, in and out laps should be big here, so you can make up some time. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is, and we’re going to have to fight.”
Even with an advantage of four tenths of a second over Castroneves in qualifying, Power admits the 85-lap race will be no cake walk.
“It will be tough to beat (my teammates),” he said. “They’re all very good and all have a great shot. Just have to do everything possible, like I’ve been doing every week. Can’t back off.”
Despite qualifying on the front row in four of the season’s five races, Power has yet to win in 2017. He is driven to change that on Saturday.
“Really determined to have a good race,” said Power, who won 2015 INDYCAR Grand Prix from the pole position. “I've been knocking on the door every week, and one is going to go our way here soon. You put yourself in that position, it'll happen. That's the plan.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.439-mile road course Saturday morning for final practice at 11 a.m. ET (live stream at RaceControl.IndyCar.com). Live coverage of the fourth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix begins at 3:30 p.m. on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.