LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Oct. 14, 2011) – Team Penske’s Will Power will start ahead of his championship rival Sunday after qualifying 17thFriday afternoon in preparation for the IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Teammates Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves will start fifth and 11th, respectively, for Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series season finale at the fast 1.5-mile oval.
Power, who is just 18 points behind Dario Franchitti heading into Sunday’s race, recorded a two-lap average of 220.524 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Franchitti will start 18th and will line up right next to Power.
"Speed means so much at this track, and we're still just trying to get more out of the Verizon car,” said Power, winner of a series-high six races and eight poles in 2011. “That's definitely not the result we wanted out of qualifying, but we know that this is going to be a pack race and hopefully we can use that to our advantage and move forward in the race on Sunday. We need to win and we have some time between now and then to make sure we are getting the most out of the car."
Briscoe, who is trying to finish fifth in the final standings for the 2011 season, was clocked at 221.130 mph in the No. 6 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Honda. It marked the eighth top-five qualifying result this season for Briscoe.
"The IZOD car felt good during qualifying,” said Briscoe. “It was pretty fast, and really there were just four cars faster than us. Our car is strong in race trim and I have been able to run well in traffic and pretty much in any lane, so things look pretty good for Sunday. The race is going to be great for the fans and quite intense for the drivers."
Castroneves just missed earning a top-10 starting spot after he posted a two-lap average of 220.907 mph in the No. 3 Guidepoint Systems machine.
"We ran the speed that we had in the Guidepoint Systems car during qualifying,” said the three-time Indy 500 winner. “Certainly we didn't do as well as we would have liked, but the good news is we have a good race car so that is what we are going to concentrate on and go for the best possible result on Sunday."
Coverage of Sunday’s 200-lap race will begin at 3 p.m. ET on ABC-TV.