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IndyCar: Power forced out of St Pete season opener

Will Power will not compete in the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, after being forced to pull out because of stomach illness.
Will Power might have managed to blitz the field and claim pole position for the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg along with a new track record, but the Australian will not be taking part in the race itself after Team Penske decided to pull him out.

The 35-year-old was missing from the usual post-qualifying press sessions on Saturday and later issued a statement that "Unfortunately I've been feeling pretty ill all day," adding: "It was a struggle to get through qualifying."

Power was still too ill to take part in the half hour Sunday morning warm-up session at 9am local time, and his place was taken instead by series veteran Oriol Servia at short notice.

The team has now confirmed that Servia will replace Power for the race itself. A press statement from Penske explained:

As Will Power continues to feel the effects of nausea on Sunday, Team Penske has made the decision to start Oriol Servia in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet in Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Power fought through three rounds of qualifying and won his sixth career pole position at St Pete on Saturday to lead a Team Penske 1-2-3-4 qualifying result. He has continued to battle an illness and will not compete in Sunday's 110-lap race.

Servia, the 41-year-old veteran of 197 IndyCar races, drove the No. 12 Verizon Chevy in the morning warm-up on Sunday and finished ninth in the final practice session before today's race. Per INDYCAR rules, Servia will start today's race from the back of the field.

“Obviously this is a very difficult decision to make in the first race of the season, but Will's health and safety is the most important thing to consider,” said Penske Racing President Tim Cindric. “We hope Will makes a speedy recovery and with Oriol's professionalism and experience, we know he'll do a solid job for our team.”

Servia most recently raced in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway where he earned a 12th-place finish.

“I feel terrible for Will and just hope he feels better soon as he was my teammate a few years ago and he's a good friend,” said Servia. “It's not the way you want to get the opportunity to drive for Team Penske, but it will be an honor to race for the team and drive the fastest car on the grid today.”

The change of drivers means that the #12 car will now start form the back of the grid. Power's Penske colleague Simon Pagenaud is promoted into pole position for the green flag, followed by fellow team mates Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya, last year's race winner.

Power retains the points and credit for claiming pole, the driver's 43rd IndyCar pole, of which five have come in the last six outings at St Pete.

Revised starting grid

1. Simon Pagenaud (C)
2. Helio Castroneves (C)
3. Juan Pablo Montoya (C)
4. Scott Dixon (C)
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay (H)
6. Graham Rahal (H)
7. Sebastien Bourdais (C)
8. James Hinchcliffe (H)
9. Jack Hawksworth (H)
10. Takuma Sato (H)
11. Josef Newgarden (C)
12. Carlos Munoz (H)
13. Charlie Kimball (C)
14. Marco Andretti (H)
15. Luca Filippi (H)
16. Max Chilton (C)
17. Mikhail Aleshin (H)
18. Alexander Rossi
19. Tony Kanaan (C)
20. Conor Daly (H)
21. Spencer Pigot (H)
22. Oriol Servia (C)

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Will Power on pit lane prior to practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power Texas
Detroit IndyCar Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves 2017 Indy 500 practice
Will Power Indy 500 practice
Simon Pagenaud Phoenix IndyCar
Josef Newgarden, Penske, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park
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
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]
Will Power - Penske  [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]

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March 13, 2016 6:34 PM
Last Edited 396 days ago

It's reported elsewhere that this is due to a mild concussion sustained during his crash on Friday. Real shame for Will but without question it's the right thing for him to sit out the race. Speedy recovery!

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