Power heads Penske 1-2 in Pocono qualifying

by Jordan Groves
Will Power (AUS), Team Penske, Pocono Raceway, 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Qualifying

Will Power has qualified on pole position for tomorrow’s 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. The Australian had an advantage of two-tenths of a second over his Team Penske stable-mate, Josef Newgarden, who will join him on the front row in second place.

Power enters the race weekend as the favourite, having taken the victory in the last two years at “the tricky triangle”. He definitely seems to have a knack for the unique three-turn superspeedway, with the Australian putting in two fantastic laps on his qualifying run to take pole position.

The result is the fifty-third pole position of Power’s IndyCar career, meaning that he now sits joint-second in the all-time pole position table, tied with A.J. Foyt and only Mario Andretti ahead with a total of sixty-seven pole positions. After setting his qualifying time, Power commented on how surreal it was to be ranked right up there with series legends:

“I never thought I’d be up in that sort of company,” Power said. “To be next to A.J. Foyt’s name, I wouldn’t have expected that when I started my career. So amazing!

“Great to be starting at the front here,” Will went on to say, “That’s what we need to get our championship back on track.”

Reigning champion Josef Newgarden will roll-off second in tomorrow’s race and will be hoping that he can do what he could last year and pass his team-mate to take the race win.

Andretti Autosport team-mates, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay prevented Penske from getting all three of their cars in the top three. Simon Pagenaud had to settle for fifth place, behind Rossi in third and Hunter-Reay in fourth.

Two rookies found themselves firmly inside the top ten on the starting grid. Robert Wickens ended qualifying with the sixth fastest time, just ahead of seventh-placed Zach Veach; who finished the opening practice session earlier on in the day as the fastest driver. Veach will be hoping that his previous success at Pocono in Indy Lights will be a good omen for tomorrow’s race.

Sebastien Bourdais finally broke his run of poor qualifying performances for Dale Coyne Racing by taking a solid eighth place on the grid. James Hinchcliffe and last year’s Pocono pole-sitter, Takuma Sato, completed the top ten.

The championship leader, Scott Dixon, will start the race in thirteenth place, just behind his Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Ed Jones in twelfth place. Dixon will be hoping to gain ground to limit and potential points loss to his championship rivals such as Rossi and Newgarden. After the session, Dixon commented that he was struggling with unsuspected and continuous understeer on his qualifying run:

“I think we were a little surprised with the understeer in the car, to be honest,” Dixon said after climbing from the car. “Turn 3, I was flat, and then we’d struggle on the exit of Turn 1. The car bottomed out somewhat there in the first lap, so I’m not sure what happened.

“It is what it is, though, and the PNC Bank car feels comfortable. It’s a long race and we’ll have to deal with traffic and try and get to the front.”

Ed Carpenter Racing had a somewhat disappointing qualifying session, with Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot way down the order in fifteenth and sixteenth places respectively. Pietro Fittipaldi qualified just behind in seventeenth place for Dale Coyne.

Graham Rahal will once again look to come from the back to score a good result in the race. He qualified all the way back in eighteenth place. The Carlin duo also had a tough time, with Charlie Kimball nineteenth ahead of team-mate Max Chilton in twenty-first. Rookie Matheus Leist separated them in twentieth place. Completing the grid in twenty-second and last place will be Conor Daly, who starts his third consecutive race with Harding Racing.

Zach Veach (USA), Andretti Autosport, Pocono Raceway, 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – ABC Supply 500 – Qualifying results:

112Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:22.0006219.511
21Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:22.2663218.802
327Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:22.2827218.758
428Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport01:22.6422217.806
522Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske01:22.6564217.769
66Robert Wickens (R)CANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports01:22.7160217.612
726Zach Veach (R)USAAndretti Autosport01:22.7257 217.587
818Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan01:22.8363217.296
95James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports01:22.9460217.009
1030Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:23.0017216.863
1198Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta01:23.0804216.658
1210Ed JonesUAEChip Ganassi Racing01:23.1227216.547
139Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:23.1754216.410
1414Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:23.2071216.328
1520Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:23.3236216.025
1621Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:23.6521215.177
1719Pietro Fittipaldi (R)BRADale Coyne Racing01:23.9804214.336
1815Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:24.0240214.225
1923Charlie KimballUSACarlin01:24.9382211.919
204Matheus Leist (R)BRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:25.0277211.696
2159Max ChiltonGBRCarlin01:25.8782209.599
2288Conor DalyUSAHarding Racing01:26.1445208.951

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