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Power claims third straight pole

18 April 2010


Will Power, whose drive to an IZOD IndyCar Series' record three consecutive victories was derailed at Barber Motorsports Park, got back on track with pole position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Power, driving the #12 Verizon Team Penske car, recorded a lap of 1min 09.3185secs in the ten-minute Firestone Fast Six shoot-out on the 1.968-mile street circuit to earn the PEAK Performance Pole Award.

"We certainly have the car figured out, and I'm very happy that the Verizon car is P1 again," the Australian said, "We've got to get the strategy right this weekend. I know sometimes it's really hard to read, but we need to keep executing in races."

Power, who won at Long Beach in 2008, recorded his third consecutive pole start - Dario Franchitti was P1 in Brazil - and edged closer to the series record of four held by Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves and former IRL regular Billy Boat.

"I think the key to success is starting up front," Power said, "But I also think you've got to get the lucky yellow. You can be out front leading and 'bam', you get caught by a yellow. You could see it last weekend. Strategy can screw you, but it also can go your way."

Power earned the pole by more than four-tenths of a second over practice pacesetter Ryan Hunter-Reay, but less than three-tenths of a second separated second through fifth positions on the grid. Just 1.6secs separated Power from 23rd-place starter Mario Romancini.

"Saving a set of 'reds' for the Firestone Fast Six, that's important," the Australian admitted, "It gives you a good chance to get the pole so, if you're quick enough, you have to [use the black-wall tyres in round one of qualifying]. You've got to take the risk to get through on the 'blacks' - they take longer to come on, but actually they're pretty quick. They're good."

Hunter-Reay, driving the #37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport, notched a season-best second starting position, while Dreyer & Reinbold's Justin Wilson tied his season best with third in the #22 Z-Line Designs car. Castroneves will join the Briton on row two.

"This feels good," Hunter-Reay admitted, "We just weren't in a position to gamble with our last set of 'reds' the way Will did. Had we been able to save them, I think we could have been right there fighting with him, but we needed to use ours earlier in the session. The IZOD guys have done a great job this weekend. We're stuck to our guns and the car has been so much fun to drive. It's one that I'm really enjoying and hopefully it will be a good, consistent car tomorrow."

Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport team-mate Tony Kanaan will start on row three after the Brazilian posted his fourth consecutive top ten start and participated in the Fast Six for the third time. It was also only the second time ever that Team Penske put three drivers into the Firestone Fast Six.

"I'm extremely happy," Briscoe insisted, "It's our first Fast Six of the year and I knew, coming into Long Beach, that I had to step it up in qualifying. I think we really did that today. We're making the car better in the Fast Six, but the tyres were just getting older and older, and I wasn't able to improve my time. Will got through without using an extra set of 'reds' and had a sticker set at the end, which gave him a big advantage. But we're right there, and we've got ourselves into good position to win the race on Sunday."

Conversely, Scott Dixon will start a disappointed eighth, with Target Chip Ganassi team-mate - and reigning Long Beach champion - Dario Franchitti only twelfth. It was the first time that a Ganassi car has not qualified for the Firestone Fast Six, even though Dixon extended his series record to 36 consecutive top ten starts.

FAZZT Race Team's Alex Tagliani missed the Firestone Fast Six by 0.0367secs and will start seventh, while Marco Andretti, who bumped Simona de Silvestro from advancing to the second round with his final lap, will start ninth in the #26 Venom Energy car for Andretti Autosport. Dan Wheldon's #4 National Guard Panther Racing entry will complete the top ten after recording his best qualifying result of the year.

"It was a really good team effort by everybody in the National Guard Panther Racing crew," the Briton reported, "We tried a lot of different things in all three practice sessions leading up to qualifying, and we managed to take all the good things from each one. I don't want to be greedy, but if I would have saved a set of the Firestone red tyres, we probably could have run in the Top Six because I was feeling extremely confident in the #4 car."


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