Power Wins St. Pete Pole for Verizon Team Penske

March 27, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Considering his torrid practice pace this weekend at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, anything less than the pole position would have been a bit of a letdown for Will Power.

There was no disappointment for Power on Saturday as he claimed the pole position for the second round of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season with a lap of 1:01.6026 (105.190 mph) seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda. The pole follows Power's season-opening victory March 14 on the street circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"It's been a process, and we just kept working away at it," said Power. "The Verizon team kept progressing through each session and eventually came away with the pole. It would have been disappointing if we hadn't, considering our pace all weekend."

Power had led every practice session of the weekend and broke the track qualifying record in the second round of qualifications at 1:01.4816 - a record set in 2007 by Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves.

Castroneves will start fifth Sunday after his lap of 1:02.2118 (104.160 mph) in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. Castroneves led his first-round qualifying group and he earned a spot in the Firestone Fast Six when he produced a thrilling final lap in the second round.

"I have to thank Team Penske," said Castroneves. "They did a heck of a job getting my car right for qualifying. The last two practice sessions were really a struggle, but we were able to make it into the Fast Six and we got a pretty good result and starting spot for tomorrow."

Meanwhile, teammate Ryan Briscoe struggled with bad timing on his tire selection in the first round of qualifying. The defending champion at St. Petersburg, Briscoe posted an uncharacteristic 19th-place starting position after a lap of 1:02.3205 (103.979 mph) in the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda. The team elected to run the red Firestone alternate tires early in the session and they were unable to generate the speed they needed to advance on the black primary tires late.

"We were the first car to go out on red tires and then we went to blacks and it was really just bad timing," Briscoe explained. "The track got quite a bit quicker and we needed to be on reds at the end of the session. It's a bit disappointing as the Team Penske car has been fast all weekend. We have a good car for the race, but we're going to be starting from farther back than we should be. We'll be all right. I have a great crew and the best race strategist there is. We just have to avoid any first-lap accidents and we should be able to have a solid race."

Power produced his third pole in just eight races with Team Penske and he'll be looking for his third victory with the team on Sunday.

"This is a good start," he said. "It's one point toward the championship. We've been quick all weekend, so this is good for the guys. We'll just have to go out and see if we can get it done tomorrow."

Live coverage of Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC-TV.