LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 17, 2010) - Will Power and Verizon Team Penske continued their red-hot start to the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season Saturday as they won their third consecutive pole, topping qualifying for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The current series point leader and the winner of the first two races of the season, Power will start on the point Sunday, marking his second consecutive pole on the streets of Long Beach. The 29-year-old native of Toowoomba, Australia topped qualifying in 2009 on the historic street circuit before finishing second in the race.
Power posted a top lap of 1:09.3185 seconds (102.206 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda to pace the Firestone Fast Six final qualifying session Saturday. He saved his Firestone alternate "red" tires until he needed them during qualifying and the strategy paid off in the end.
"I'm very happy for the Verizon car to be on a pole again," said Power. "Our plan going into that (first qualifying) session was to get through on (primary) black tires. I think we almost had a time good enough in the second session to get through on used blacks, because the blacks take so long to come on. We had new reds and did the lap. At this track you've got to be so brave to get a lap. I mean to be on the limit, you go a little bit over it, and it's so easy to hit the wall."
Team Penske saw all of its cars advance into the final round of qualifying as Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe also earned their way into the top six. Castroneves will start fourth on Sunday in the No. 3 Team Penske machine after carding a time of 1:09.8470 seconds (101.433 mph).
"We're really working hard out there," said Castroneves. "It felt like the race, but it was great. It's great again to have Team Penske in the Firestone Fast Six again. The series is so competitive right now."
Briscoe, who owned the second fastest time in practice on Friday, will line up fifth on Sunday after he turned in a quick qualifying lap of 1:10.0255 seconds (101.175 mph) in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.
"I'm really happy today," said Briscoe. "I went into this weekend with a big goal of saying, look, I need to try to make the Fast Six here because I haven't been getting it right in qualifying the last three races. I haven't had a happy balance on new tires. So it's a big step forward for me being able to start at the front. It was a good day."
Power, Castroneves and Briscoe will be trying to extend Team Penske's race winning streak to four in a row on Sunday. After Power posted wins in Sao Paulo and St. Petersburg to start the season, Castroneves won last Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park. Power knows it will take more than just speed to bring home his third win of the young season on Sunday.
"We certainly have the car figured out, and I'm very happy that the Verizon car is P1 again," said Power. "We've got to get the strategy right this weekend. I know sometimes it's really hard to read, but we need to keep executing in races."
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on Versus with race coverage beginning at 3:30 pm ET on Sunday.