Power Earns Fifth-Place Starting Spot to Lead Team Penske
June 24, 2011
Photo courtesy of Steve Swope
NEWTON, Iowa (June 24, 2011) – Will Power turned in the top qualifying effort for Team Penske on Friday as all three of the team's cars will start in the first seven rows for Saturday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Power posted a two-lap average speed of 179.474 mph around the .875-mile banked oval track in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda. The effort placed him one starting position ahead of Dario Franchitti, who is tied with Power for the lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings heading into this weekend's race.
"After the struggles we had last week in qualifying, we're just feeling good to be starting somewhere close to the front," said Power, who won the pole position last year in Iowa for his first oval track pole before he finished fifth in the race. "The Verizon car was OK today in qualifying, but what's important here is to be good for the race. We need to go back and talk to the engineers and probably make a few adjustments tonight before the race tomorrow. We finished top-five here last here, and we need to make sure we have another strong result tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Ryan Briscoe qualified 10th in the No. 6 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Dallara/Honda. He recorded a two-lap average speed of 178.771 mph.
"Our qualifying run in the PPG Automotive Refinish car was just OK," said Briscoe. "The car was sliding around a bit and we were fighting some understeer. We just couldn't hold the bottom line and that's probably the difference between being on pole and not. We just needed to have better balance all the way around to keep it on the bottom of the track. We'll keep working on it and make sure we've got what we need for the race tomorrow."
Helio Castroneves will line up 13th on Saturday after his average of 178.570 mph in the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske machine.
"It was a little bit tough out there today in the Guidepoint Systems car," said Castroneves, who qualified in the first two rows in his four previous starts at Iowa. "We were a little bit neutral, but we managed to complete the run. Now we just look forward to the race tomorrow and do our best to execute our strategy and work our way to the front."
Takuma Sato won the pole position on Friday for his first career IZOD IndyCar Series pole.
In the Friday night practice after qualifying, the Team Penske cars ran well. All three drivers posted lap times among the top eight, led by Power who was second fastest. Briscoe carded the sixth-fastest lap while Castroneves was eighth in the final practice before tomorrow's race.
Team Penske will be looking for its first win at Iowa Saturday night in the first race run under the lights at the fast track located near Des Moines. Live coverage of Saturday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Versus.