Leeds, Ala – Will Power has clearly been the class of the field this weekend at the Barber Motorsports Park. He’s been battling his Team Penske teammates through all three practice sessions, and now, he battled them in qualifying as well.
Power, was the only driver to eclipse the 1:06-second barrier this weekend, doing so in practice this morning, and now in the Fast Six this afternoon, en route to his 46th career Verizon IndyCar Series pole.
Power, set a lap around the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park at 1:06.9614-seconds in his No. 12 Chevrolet en route to his fourth pole at the scenic 17-turn Alabama facility.
Power, also earned his 18th straight top 10 start by virtue of his pole, as he’s been third, second and first respectively in the three practice sessions this weekend and is now on the pole for Sunday’s race.
“Having a very good team and car is key and the No.12 Verizon Chevy is definitely working well this weekend,” Power said after his second Verizon P1 Pole Award in three races this season. “I’m kind of focusing very well, making sure I’m looking at the right things, and felt like I had a much better car on used tires. I think that’s kind of where we’ve been going wrong. It’s a very good result.”
His teammate of Helio Castroneves will start alongside, as he turned a lap of 1:07.1429-seconds in his No. 3 Chevrolet.
“It’s a great team effort, especially the No. 3 AAA Chevy guys who did a phenomenal job during qualifying because we kept chasing the car,” Castroneves said after qualifying on the front row. “It was phenomenal towards the end. My teammate, Will Power, he definitely has something on this place. He did a great job putting a lap towards to the end. Now we’re looking for tomorrow. Hopefully the weather, it’s going to be a little bit cooler, and I think everybody’s car is going to be fast. Starting from the front row is a good place to be and now we’ve just got to look forward and hopefully beat my teammate.”
Both Power and Castroneves have combined to win every pole so far this year and both will share the front row in Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3 pm ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network).
Another Penske driver and defending race winner here in Simon Pagenaud will roll off third in his No. 1 Chevrolet with the Frenchman turning a lap of 1:07.3817-seconds.
“It’s phenomenal for the Penske team,” the defending series champion said. “They did a fantastic job preparing these cars. This is a really good track for us in general. We have a really good grip and an understanding of the aero package, as well. Personally, it was a good session for the No.1 Menards Chevy. It was a little hectic in the beginning on pit lane. I couldn’t really go on my out lap to get the tires up to speed, so it was very difficult to transfer with only one lap on the tires. So, unfortunately, we wore out the tires Q1, Q2, and then I pushed a little too hard in the Firestone Fast Six, but I guess that’s what it’s all about. It’s racing. We were very aggressive with the setup and I think we went a tick too far. That was great qualifying and phenomenal for the race team starting 1-2-3.”
Scott Dixon (1:07.5817-seconds) Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:07.6851-seconds) and James Hinchcliffe (1:07.8710-seconds) rounded out the Fast Six on Saturday.
It was a rough qualifying effort for the Andretti Autosport group as a whole. They have normally had speed here, but three of their four drivers didn’t make it out of Round 1. Both Marco Andretti (13th) and Takuma Sato (14th) will share Row 7, while Alexander Rossi will start 18th.
Graham Rahal also struggled too, as the runner-up the last two years here will start last in the 21 car field.
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama:
Row 1: Will Power, Helio Castroneves
Row 2: Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon
Row 3: Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe
Row 4: Josef Newgarden, Mikhail Aleshin
Row 5: Max Chilton, Tony Kanaan
Row 6: Ed Jones R, Sebastien Bourdais
Row 7: Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato
Row 8: Charlie Kimball, Carlos Munoz
Row 9: Spencer Pigot, Alexander Rossi
Row 10: Zach Veach R, Conor Daly
Row 11: Graham Rahal