ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – This weekend is shaping up to be Team Penske’s to lose. Simon Pagenaud was fastest in the opening of the three Verizon IndyCar Series practice sessions at the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg, Florida street circuit on Friday morning, then his Team Penske teammate of Will Power was quickest in not just the second session, but the third one earlier today as well.
In qualifying on Saturday, they backed that up by demoloshing the field.
Out of the six spots in the final round of qualifying from a sun drenched St. Pete street circuit, Penske drivers made up four of them.
In fact, for the second straight year, they swept the top four starting spots for the season opener as Penske drivers will start first, second, third and fourth for tomorrow’s 110 Lap race.
Will Power earned his sixth pole in the last seven years here and his 43rd career Verizon IndyCar Series pole overall as he will start first in his No. 12 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet.
It really showed just how far and how many resources Power and Team Penske have, as Power crashed his primary car very early on in the opening practice session on Friday afternoon.
But, he’s been fastest in every session since, as he will start on the pole for the third straight year tomorrow.
In fact, Power shattered his track record that he set just last year in the second round of today’s qualifying session, as he went 1:00.0658-seconds besting his lap of 1:00.6509-seconds turned in 2015.
Pagenaud, who too has been quick all weekend, will join him on the front row as the Frenchman qualified his No. 22 HPE Chevrolet second with a time of 1:00.4421-seconds.
Two more Penske drivers will share Row 2 as three-time St. Pete winner Helio Castroneves will start third with last year’s winner Juan Pablo Montoya rolling off fourth.
Last year’s series champion Scott Dixon rounded out the top five.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete Starting Lineup:
Row 1: Will Power, Simon Pagenaud
Row 2: Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya
Row 3: Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay
Row 4: Graham Rahal, Sebastien Bourdais
Row 5: James Hinchcliffe, Jack Hawksworth
Row 6: Takuma Sato, Josef Newgarden
Row 7: Carlos Munoz, Charlie Kimball
Row 8: Marco Andretti, Luca Filippi
Row 9: Max Chilton R, Mikhail Aleshin
Row 10: Alexander Rossi R, Tony Kanaan
Row 11: Conor Daly R, Spencer Pigot R