Power Earns Front Row Start for Grand Prix of Alabama

April 6, 2013

LEEDS, Ala. (April 5, 2013) – Team Penske continued to perform well Saturday, placing all three cars in the top 10 for the start of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

Will Power continued his qualifying success around the 16-turn, 2.38 mile road course and will start on the front row, while Helio Castroneves will start in the third row and AJ Allmendinger in the fifth row on Sunday afternoon.

Power, the two-time defending winner at Barber, recorded a fast lap of 67.3304 seconds in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, second only to Ryan Hunter-Reay’s pole-winning lap. With Saturday’s second-place effort, the three-time IZOD IndyCar Series Mario Andretti Road Course Champion has now qualified on the front row in nine of the last 12 road/street course races.

“I was happy to get the Verizon car in the Fast Six,” said Power, who has led 124 of 270 possible laps in three previous races at Barber. “It was really tight and I probably wasn’t right there where I needed to be.  But, yeah, I was very happy to end up second.  I'm not sure what these red (tires) are going to do.  Initially I thought they were going to come off, but they hung on pretty well in the Fast Six.  I think that will make interesting strategy in the race for tomorrow.” 

Castroneves, the defending Barber pole winner, was clocked at 67.5106 seconds in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, good for sixth place in the qualifying rundown. Saturday marked the first time that a Team Penske driver has not started on the pole in the three-year history of the IndyCar Series competing at Barber Motorsports Park.

“Today was a good effort for Team Penske and a great opportunity for the AAA Insurance car tomorrow,” said Castroneves, who has made the Firestone Fast Six in both races of 2013 and won at Barber in 2010. “The AAA car was really consistent and unfortunately the last qualifying we decided to take a chance with something different and it wasn't the right direction. But we are confident in our abilities here and ready for a good day tomorrow.”

Allmendinger, making his first start in the No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet, had the 11th-fastest lap in the second qualifying session and will start 10th on Sunday as a result of a penalty on another driver. The 31-year-old American driver is ready to compete in Sunday’s race after gaining more valuable experience during qualifying.

"I wasn't as strong in the second run as I was in the first,” said Allmendinger, who previously won five races in 40 open-wheel starts from 2004 to 2006. “I just didn't feel as good on the second set of tires. We made our first goal of getting out of the first round of qualifying. Making it into the top six was a pretty lofty goal, especially with it being my first time (in this format) and first time on the red (tires). It's still good to be inside the top 12. I know the IZOD Team Penske car will be good in the race, it's just a matter of me going with the flow and how I react to everything."

Sunday’s Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised on NBC Sports Network with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

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