Power Leads 1-2-3 Qualifying Sweep at Watkins Glen
July 3, 2010
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - (July 3, 2010) Team Penske scored a 1-2-3 sweep of qualifying Saturday for the Camping World Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. And, on the strength of Will Power's pole-winning effort, the team tied a long-standing open-wheel record with its eighth consecutive pole position.
Power posted the fastest lap of the day - 1:29.3164 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda - around the 3.37-mile, 11-turn road course. Extending its IZOD IndyCar Series record for consecutive team poles, Power's effort tied the all-time open-wheel racing record for consecutive poles shared by Team Penske (Rick Mears and Danny Sullivan over two seasons) and All-American Racers (Bobby Unser over two seasons). Team Penske will have a chance to extend the streak on July 17 in qualifying at the Toronto street circuit.
"This is incredible," said Power. "When you have the combination of drivers, engineers and crew guys that we've got, you can expect things like this to happen."
Saturday's result also marked the sixth consecutive season that Team Penske has been awarded the pole at Watkins Glen (Castroneves started from the top position in 2006 when the starting grid was based on practice times). Unfortunately, the team is still searching for its first win at The Glen during the remarkable run.
Following Power on the grid will be Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe. Castroneves recorded a lap of 1:29.4609 in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda, while Briscoe clocked the third-fastest time - 1:29.9346 - in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.
Castroneves credited his teammates, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric and his race engineer Ron Ruzewski with the result, and noted that the chemistry inside the team is tailored for success.
"This is a heck of a team," said Castroneves. "Credit goes to Cindric and Will and Ryan. We're all working together very well, and it shows. Certainly the competition is pushing us, but we're able to do it. Everybody is on the same page. It's a great atmosphere. We all want to win, but at the end of the day, as Roger (Penske) always says, ‘Only the team wins.'"
Briscoe, who won the previous two pole positions for the team at Watkins Glen, was excited to be a part of the team's qualifying sweep - the first time Team Penske secured the top three spots in qualifying since last year's race at Edmonton when Power won the pole followed by Briscoe and Castroneves.
"That was a really great result for Team Penske - qualifying 1-2-3 is awesome," said Briscoe. "The balance was off just a tick on my car and I had to use up some of my tire allotment to make it into the fast six. I feel really good about the team's performance today and we have three strong cars for the race tomorrow."
Cindric, who also serves as Castroneves' race strategist, said he's pleased with the team's performance in qualifying in IZOD IndyCar Series events this season and at Watkins Glen, but would much rather see a streak of race wins.
"It's a good testament to the team," said Cindric. "But with all of those poles here, we still haven't managed to win a race at this track. We'd trade it all to get a win tomorrow. The pole streak is great, but we need to start a winning streak."
For Power, Saturday's pole position was his fifth of the season and another point for his series-leading total. He now leads Scott Dixon by 12 points in the standings. "I was definitely a little bit rusty around this place at the beginning of the weekend, but my engineer and I came up with a good car at the end," said Power. " I was able to turn a lap in the second segment (of qualifying) that was fast and we were able to save a set of red (tires) and that really helped us in the last session. Another pole for Team Penske - eight in a row is pretty good."
Television coverage of Sunday's Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen will start at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC-TV.