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Power Tops Sonoma Qualifying for Record Eighth Pole

August 21, 2010

Photo courtesy of Steve Swope



SONOMA, Calif. (August 21, 2010) - One year after his season ended at Infineon Raceway, Will Power broke the record for the IZOD IndyCar Series record for the most pole positions in one season by claiming the top starting spot for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Saturday.

Power edged teammate Helio Castroneves by less than .04 of-a-second to claim his eighth pole position of the 2010 season, breaking the series record previously established by Castroneves in 2007. Power's lap of 1:16.5282 - an average speed of 108.337 mph - in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda will allow him to start inside the front row next to Castroneves when the green flag waves on Sunday afternoon. Last season, Power suffered season-ending back injuries in a practice accident at Sonoma.

"I'm really stoked to get a record eighth pole for Verizon," said Power. "It's important where you start here. That's great for us."

Castroneves had just posted a lap of 1:16.5652 around the 12-turn, 2.303-mile road course in the No. 3 Team Penske machine during the Firestone Fast Six session, a number that was more than 0.2 seconds faster than anybody else in the session. As the remaining seconds ticked away in the session, though, Power went out and edged his teammate for the pole.

The performance was an impressive one for Power, who almost didn't advance to the final round of qualifying. He was one position outside of the top six as time was running down in the second round of qualifying, when he posted a time on his final lap that allowed him to advance.

"I wasn't sure I was going to pull it off in the second round of qualifying," said Power. "I was two-tenths off from the Fast Six. I knew it was going to be very close for pole here."

Castroneves will start second after dominating most of Saturday's qualifying sessions. It marked the fourth time this season that Team Penske has swept the top two starting positions for an IndyCar Series race. Power and Castroneves also did it at Indianapolis, Edmonton and Watkins Glen.

"I love this place," said Castroneves. "It's always good to start up front here because it's difficult to pass - there are straightaways here, but they aren't really straight. At the end of the day, it was a great job by all three Team Penske cars. We were trying different things and we were able to put it all together. We gave Will a good run but we came up just a little bit short. I think it's going to be a good race tomorrow and we'll do what we can to get Team Penske back to Victory Circle."
Ryan Briscoe made it three Team Penske cars in the top five as he qualified fifth after he clocked a lap of 1:17.2108 in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

"A top-five spot in qualifying is a good result for us today," said Briscoe. "Congratulations to Will, eight poles in one season is a fairly rare occasion. We struggled a little with the balance on our No. 6 Team Penske car today, but it was good by the end of the qualifying. We have a strong race car and my guys have been great in the pits all year so I am looking forward to the race tomorrow."

Team Penske has won 11 of the 13 pole positions and 6 of the 12 races so far this season. Power leads the IndyCar Series championship standings with five races remaining, while Briscoe is fourth, 109 points behind Power, and Castroneves is fifth, 121 points back.
"This is the toughest series I've ever raced in," said Power. "It is just so tight now. You cannot leave anything on the table if you want to start up front."

Coverage of Sunday's 75-lap race begins at 5 p.m. ET on Versus.