Will Power backed up his blistering lap in practice with a lap of 220.775 mph to take the pole for Saturday night’s MavTV 500. Power’s lap is the fastest official lap at Auto Club Speedway since 2003.
“Drove out the pits today, car was pretty quick in qualifying trim,” said Power. “I thought we’d have a pretty good shot.”
In his first start since an abysmal Detroit doubleheader, AJ Allmendinger slots in the ouside of the front row, and Penske’s championship contender Helio Castroneves posted the 2rd fastest time, but will roll off in 13th due to a fresh engine to aid in his run at the championship.
At the time of Power’s run, Castroneves was P1 which would have given him a bonus point for winning the pole. Its not so much the starting position as the lack of the bonus point could make all the difference for Castroneves.
“It’s hard to predict the lap you’re going to do anyway, but obviously would have been nice for Helio to get the point,” Power said. “He needs to lead the most laps and I’ll just do whatever I can to help him out. I want to have a good race, and if that means just sitting behind him all day, that’s fine. It’s about the team.
“Scott didn’t (get the bonus point), so it still kind of keeps it alive.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t have a crystal ball to tell me buddy here to slow down,” says Castroneves. “Those guys (Dixon) were behind him, so I’m glad he went for it. That’s what the car was able to do. We showed that we did our homework. I’m proud of those boys.”
Points leader Scott Dixon also will take a 10 place grid penalty after posting the 7th fastest time, leveling the playing field a bit being that both drivers will be starting in traffic.
For us it was more paramount to change the engine and make sure we took maybe the performance gain than sort of just have the straight-out speed and go off whatever qualifying we would have qualified.
Can still get pretty messy back there.
In his final race for Dragon Racing, Sebastien Bourdais pulled of a great surprising run in 4th place, but with Castroneves taking a 10 place grid penalty, he will move up to the outside of the front row.
Another surprise was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s James Jakes who posted the 6th fastest time.
Three cars did not record a lap time. Pippa Mann and Takuma Sato’s cars were damaged during a crash in this mornings practice session and Justin Wilson’s car stalled as he was pulling out to make a lap.
Starting Lineup for MavTV 500
- Will Power
- Helio Castroneves*
- AJ Allmendinger
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Charlie Kimball
- James Jakes
- Scott Dixon*
- Marco Andretti
- Ed Carpenter
- Josef Newgarden*
- James Hinchcliffe
- Tony Kanaan
- Alex Tagliani
- Carlos Munoz
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Simon Pagenaud
- Oriol Servia
- Graham Rahal*
- JR Hildebrand
- Tristan Vautier
- Simona de Silvestro
- Sebastian Saavedra*
- Justin Wilson
- Pippa Mann
- Takuma Sato*
* denotes 10 place grid penalty
Italics denotes no speed and no time