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Power Leads Team Penske, Qualifies Second, In Japan

September 17, 2011

Photo courtesy of Steve Swope




 
MOTEGI, Japan (September 17, 2011) – Will Power led a strong performance by Team Penske during qualifying Saturday for the Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi road course.

Power will start second in Sunday's race, while teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves also secured starting positions inside the first three rows.

Power was clocked at 1:38.4194 around the 14-turn, 2.983-mile road course in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda during the Firestone Fast Six final qualifying round.

"It was a good recovery by the Verizon team today after practice," said Power, who qualified on the front row for the ninth time this season but fell just short of earning his eighth pole of the year. "We were struggling for sure in the second practice today, but we were able to get back on track and to wind up qualifying second is great. I'm really kind of disappointed that we weren't able to put that last lap together and make a good run for pole. I didn't do what I needed to do in the last few turns, but it's still a good result."

Briscoe had the fourth-fastest lap of the Firestone Fast Six session – 1:38.7082 in the No. 6 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

"It was another huge performance by Team Penske today," said Briscoe. "Here on a brand new circuit in Motegi, this really shows how much preparation and hard work our engineers have done back home. Qualifying fourth is really good for us on the Hitachi Team Penske car. I was really looking for a little bit more in the Fast Six, but our tires were just going away at the end there. It was another good effort by the No. 6 car guys to get into the Fast Six. We've really been working hard on our road course setups and it definitely shows in our results."

Castroneves will start sixth after his lap of 1:38.9743 in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske machine.

"It was a good day for Team Penske," said Castroneves, who has won twice and started on pole five times on the Motegi oval course. "We had three cars in the Firestone Fast Six and we are all starting up front. The Hitachi car was good in qualifying, but I think we will be even better tomorrow in the race. Our car is really good on older tires, so we should be in great shape to go after a win here tomorrow. It has been a year (since his last victory) and I am ready to get a win. I have to thank all the fans here in Motegi for their generous gifts and support."

Power will begin Sunday's 63-lap race just five points behind Dario Franchitti in the championship standings with three races remaining in the 2011 season. Franchitti will take the green flag from the ninth position on Sunday.

"With all three Team Penske cars qualifying in the top six, that's a good result for us," said Power, who is the only driver in the  IZOD IndyCar Series to qualify for the Firestone Fast Six for all 10 road course races this season. "It's definitely good to be starting where we are for the championship. Anything can happen in the race tomorrow, but we're right where we need to be."

Power will be chasing his series-leading seventh win on Sunday and with a strong result he can clinch his second consecutive Mario Andretti Road Course Championship.

Live coverage of the race – the last IZOD IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi – will begin Saturday at 11:30 p.m. ET on VERSUS.