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Power tops practice at Pocono ahead of qualifying

Will Power recorded a blistering lap of 223.348mph at Pocono Raceway during practice on Saturday ahead of qualifying for the Pocono IndyCar 500.
Penske's Will Power was on blistering form on Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway, setting an unofficial new track record speed of 223.348mph (40.2959s) on the 2.5-mile 'tri-oval' circuit.

In fact no fewer than 11 drivers were already faster than last year's two-lap qualifying average speed of 221.273mph recorded by Marco Andretti, with Power just a slender 0.0615s ahead of Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz. The top 11 were covered by 0.3617s and 19 drivers were within a second of Power's time in the hou-long afternoon session. All of the fastest laps were set with the help of a 'tow' or aerodynaic assist from running close behind other cars.

Earlier in the day, Ganassi's Tony Kanaan had paced the first practice session with a lap of 221.344mph (40.6607s) five minutes before the chequered flag putting him just ahead of a trio of Andretti Autosport cars consisting of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport and James Hinchcliffe. Kanaan subsequently improved his lap to 222.528mph (40.4444s) to maintain third place in the combined practice standings just ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal.

There was an even split of five entries apiece between the Chevrolet and Honda stables for the two sessions, which saw a total of 1482 laps run as teams worked to complete the required mileage per engine that would means that they would be allowed to swap out the unit for a new one without penalty.

The morning session was incident-free with just two cautions to clear up debris. Hunter-Reay's participation was delayed by the discovery of a punctured radiator which saw him lose a third of the available running time, but he was quickly up to speed once he got out on the track.

By contrast the afternoon session saw a prolonged 13-minute yellow flag stoppage after Jack Hawksworth had a hard impact into turn 1 in the Bryan Herta Autosport #98 car. Hawksworth was able to climb out but appeared to be limping, and it was confirmed that he'd banged his knee in the impact.

"I'm sore, but I feel all right," he said after being evaluated and released by the in-field care centre.

"We'd been understeering in turn 1 during the whole session and there's a tailwind going into there so we'd been pushing a lot," he explained. "We just put tyres on and went into 1 and picked up a big oversteer instead of the understeer and it took us out. If I thought I was going to stick it into the wall, I would have thought it would be on turn 3, but it was turn 1."

While Hawksworth was cleared to race, the problem now is rebuilding the heavily damaged car. It seems likely that the team will have to spit out qualifying, which takes place at 5pm local time (10pm BST). Ironically the team had the same experience of wiping out the primary race chassis when they competed here last year with Alex Tagliani at the wheel.

That strong tailwind going into turn 1 had been giving all the drivers something of a headache all day: "It makes it a little tough to set up, especially when you are going from one corner to another, even though it is an oval," Helio Castroneves explained.

"When it's a constant wind, it's not a problem. When it's a gust of wind, that's when it's a problem. On one lap, the car is one way and the next one is, 'Whoa, what happened?' The inconsistency is what makes it difficult for us."

There were also problems for Ganassi's Ryan Briscoe, who lost a lot of time to an ECU issue, while Justin Wilson suffered a late electrical problem on the Dale Coyne Racing car that truncated his track time.

Full practice 1 results
Full practice 2 results
Full combined practice results



Related Pictures

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Graham Rahal on the frontstretch during practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth and Marco Andretti cross the start/finish line during practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan in action at Pocono (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action at Pocono (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Will Power in action at Pocono (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, and his team perform the traditional kissing of the bricks after racing to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, drinks the traditional bottle of milk while celebrating his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, crosses the finish line as he races to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finishes second. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Andy Frame/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya is congratulated by his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves after clinching victory in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power on pit road during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Penske team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power race side-by-wide during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan`s wrecked car is craned away during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the line ahead of Penske team mate Will Power to win the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda in pit lane on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson resplendent in the Rolling Stones livery for the #25 Andretti Autosport Honda on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Tristan Vautier and Jack Hawksworth on track on Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Friday May 22 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Mark Miles and Derrick Walker announce the addition of Boston to the 2016 IndyCar Series itinerary. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)

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