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IndyCar: Penske's Power on pole position in Toronto

Will Power broke cover and claimed his fifth pole position of the season and his second in a row with a comprehensive display in Saturday qualifying in Toronto.
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power will once again lead the field to the green flag for the start of Sunday's race, after showing his Penske team mates and the rest of the field just who was boss in qualifying on the 11-turn, 1.755-mile temporary street course in Toronto, Canada.

It's Power's fifth pole of the 2015 season and his second in a row after he also clinched the lead spot for last weekend's night race in Texas. It gives him a career total of 41 pole positions, putting him the fifth in the all-time list having overtaken Rick Mears and just two away from matching Helio Castroneves.

Power had been unusually quiet in the two practice sessions leading up to qualifying, seemingly content to leave it to his Penske playmates Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya to collect the honours for topping the timesheets until now. Even when it came to qualifying, he finished the first two rounds in third place each time trailing Montoya and Simon Pagenaud, the fourth member of the Penske squad.

But once it came to the Firestone Fast 6 it was an altogether different matter, and Power dropped the pretence and went to the top with a best lap of 59.4280s (106.314mph) to put him 0.1815s ahead of Pagenaud who will line up alongside him on the front row for the start of Sunday afternoon's 85-lap race.

CLICK: Full qualifying times for the Honda Indy Toronto

"I was just hoping I would be like fourth or third, something like that. I did not expect to be on pole, so, yeah, I'm very happy," insisted Power.

"Starting on the pole is great to keep out of any messes, and obviously IndyCar races are never straightforward so it's just awesome to get the pole," continued the Australian, who started from the front here in 2007 and 2010. "It's a long day and we'll see what we can do.

"It's all man-handling because you've got those slippery surfaces in the middle of the corners, so you've got to be on the wheel a lot," he added, which is easier said than done when carrying a hand injury as Power currently is. "It's sore but it's fine. You've just got to mentally switch it off when you hit a bump. It's fine. It's cracked or fractured, so I can't do any more damage to it. That's the good thing.

By contrast with Power's celebrations, Pagenaud looked pleased with a front row spot but nonetheless irked to once again miss out on pole position having looked very much up to speed throughout all the practice sessions leading up to qualifying.

"We've been in the fast six every session since the beginning of the season but its executing in the end where things haven't gone our way," said Pagenaud. "I think we had it but just made a little mistake when the tyres were at their peak. But I'm happy with front row. I'm happy for Team Penske.”

Power's pole lap wasn't quite the quickest of the session - that went to Montoya's second round time of 59.4137s (106.339mph). No one had looked remotely looked close to challenging Gil de Ferran's one-lap qualifying track record for Toronto of 57.143s (110.565mph) set all the way back in July 1999.

"It's okay," said Montoya after not being able to find quite the same pace in the final pole shoot-out round forcing him to settle for third place on the grid. "We've been doing a good job. Today I made too many mistakes at the end. Thought I had a really good car, didn't put good luck together when it counted. Still qualified third, so I'm happy with that."

Montoya will be joined on the second row by Ganassi's Scott Dixon, who admitted that this weekend had been a struggle up to now. "This weekend it feels like I've been driving a dinosaur," he said. "It's been a rough start. We had an electrical issue at the start of the weekend, had to come in and change batteries every two laps. We made wholesale changes even through qualifying. Each session we've been changing a lot. It's not been a smooth weekend for us.

"But I think the car has potential speed," he added, perking up. "We were up pretty good on the last lap, and I cooked it in a couple spots. We'll see how it goes. But Chevy is doing a fantastic job - dominant right now. It's cool to be driving a Chevy right now."

No Honda car made it through to the final Firestone Fast 6, with the remaining spots in the final round going to KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais and CFH Racing's Luca Filippi, only the second time that the Italian has made it through to the final round of qualifying in 16 starts.

"[This is the] first time I go to a racetrack that I raced before," he pointed out. "You know what to expect, you know the lines, braking zones. Makes everything easier. I just hope to have more experience to go faster everywhere."

After topping the morning practice session, it was a surprise to see Helio Castroneves narrowly miss out on making the final round cut by just 0.0018s. He will start on the fourth row alongside AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato, who was the highest qualifier from the Honda-powered side of the garage.

"I was satisfied with my lap but it's just so close, the field is so tight," said the former F1 driver. "We only needed five-hundredths to make it to the Firestone Fast Six, and I was temporarily fifth until the very few last corners in the final seconds and then two guys overtook me. It is what it is and that's racing.

"It's a shame it wasn't a little bit higher, but P8 - I'll take it. It's a good place to start, and the weather looks good, so hopefully we have a sweet Sunday afternoon."

Rounding out the top ten for the starting grid will be Ganassi's Tony Kanaan and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal, while CFH Racing's Josef Newgarden and Schmidt Peterson Motorsport's James Jakes were also successful in being able to progress from the first round group stages.

"I'm a little bit disappointed, really," said Jakes, who will take the green flag in 12th place on Sunday. "I think we had a better pace than that in the #7 SPM MediaTech Honda but we were using an extra set of reds in the first round of qualifying. I think that cost us a little bit, but we're not in a bad position for tomorrow to start the race. It looks like it's going to rain and anything can happen so we'll just try to keep our nose clean and go from there."

Missing out on progressing from their respective groups were Ganassi's Sebastian Saavedra, who will start from 17th after being docked his best lap in Group 1 for causing local waved yellows within the last five minutes of the session after going into a run-off; and Dale Coyne Racing's Rodolfo Gonzalez who was penalised two lap times after he crashed in turn 1 during Group 2, causing the session to be red-flagged and to finish early. That caught out many drivers including Andretti Autosport pair Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti who failed to progress as a result, and leaves Gonzalez starting from the back of the grid.

"I'm extremely disappointed that we weren't able to advance out of the first round because of what happened," said Saavedra of his own incident. "I'll take this as a learning experience that just proves there is no room for errors. I knew we had a lap time that would most likely move me onto the next round, so on the last lap I went behind the barrier to get out of traffic. I did not know that a yellow would come out because of what I did, but it ultimately ended our day. We'll just focus on our race car now. We have an amazing car, so I'm looking forward to the race."

The drivers will now have one final 30-minute warm-up session on Sunday morning at 11am ET (4pm BST) before the Honda Indy Toronto itself which will get the green flag at just after 3.30pm (8.30pm BST). The forecast is generally good but the chances of showers have increased, meaning that it could prove to be a very interesting day at the races for drivers, teams and fans alike.

See full qualifying times for the Honda Indy Toronto

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, June 13, 2015 capturing the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race through the streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Power will start in the front row with teammate Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power wins the Verizon P1 Award and the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power affixes the Verizon P1 Award emblem to his Chevrolet after winning the pole position for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Will Power - Team Penske
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Simon Penske - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar media/Bret Kelley]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Will Power - Penske  [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [image credit: IndyCar Media/Bret Kelley]

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