26 August 2012
Power and Briscoe top Sonoma qualifying
Will Power collected a hat-trick of consecutive poles for Somona races, beating his team mate Ryan Briscoe by 0.1638s to set up the chance of a repeat 1-2-3 Penske lockout.
Will Power picked up his fourth pole position of 2012 and his third in a row at Sonoma, with a lap of 1:17.2709s (111.115mph) that was 0.1638s faster than second-place man Ryan Briscoe.
"It's good to back on the pole here in Sonoma," he said. "It is important to start up front here and we are very happy to once again be on the front row, which is where we want to start."
Last year, Penske locked out the top three positions - and then went on to finish the race in the same order. Despite changes to the Sonoma Raceway circuit designed to promote more racing action in 2012, Power is understandably hopeful that he, Briscoe and Helio Castroneves can achieve similar success this year.
"This track was great for the team and we look to continue our success as a team here," he said. "I just really like this track and I would love to make it three in a row here."
However, the team has already been thwarted in its attempt of locking out the top three spots on the grid, thanks to a superb flying lap by Sebastien Bourdais who has been strong all weekend and who will now start from third place at the green flag.
"We came a long ways, obviously, from the start of the season with all the struggles we had to go through," said Bourdais, referring to Dragon Racing's underpowered early races with Lotus engines, their acrimonious split from the British manufacturer and the need to rebuild from that low point after signing a single-engine supply deal with Chevrolet in May.
"The last few events you see have been getting better and better and the team has done a great job, and we definitely feel that we have a much better idea of what we need on the car and where we are at," said Bourdais. "We keep chipping away and finding little stuff. And one after the other, you get closer to these guys. It's not easy. I think everybody, most everybody in the field feels like the guys at Penske have got it all figured out, and they've been dominating all weekend so far."
Bourdais' job on Sunday afternoon will be to keep his car in front of Castroneves, who will be looking to make an early jump to join his team mates in the top three. The Brazilian was hopeful that he could do just that on race day.
"We found some stuff in the car,," he revealed. "We did find something. I'm not allowed to disclose what it was, but certainly improved my end. I'm still far away from my teammates, certainly they did a great job. So obviously better than yesterday, but I'm not happy compared to what my guys have."
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