Never count out Will Power on a street circuit. The five-time Road Course discipline champion proved that on Saturday advancing quickly through the Elimination rounds, then blitzing the Fast Six competition during Qualifying for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the Verizon IndyCar Series opener. Power took pole in such dominant fashion for Team Penske and Chevrolet which up until qualifying was at the mercy of Honda-powered teams.
Power and Team Penske team-mate Josef Newgarden were the only Chevrolets in the Fast Six and top-10. Newgarden, qualifying with Penske for the first time managed P4. The rest of the Chevys were scattered in the bottom half of the grid. Notably, Carlos Munoz qualified P11 for A. J. Foyt Enterprises for the first time was the next highest qualified Chevy. Reigning IndyCar Series champion, Simon Pagenaud was P14.
Power’s St. Petersburg pole was the Australian’s seventh at the track and 45th of his career overall.
Twitter: Congrats to @Team_Penske’s @12WillPower on capturing his record 7th pole position for Sunday’s @IndyCar season kick… https://t.co/gwXNmFUVpf (@TeamChevy)
Despite the impressive number of poles in St. Petersburg, Power’s conversion rate for the circuit could be better. Having converted one of the previous six poles to wins, in 2010. Despite this, Power has won twice at St. Petersburg and will look for win number three on Sunday.
While Power was having his way with the rest of the grid, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon continued his excellent form with a solid P2. Dixon has yet to finish outside the top-3 all weekend, topping Practice 2 and 3 and finishing P3 in Practice 1.
With Dixon in P2, it sets the stage for an all-Australian front row and an intriguing street circuit battle on Sunday between the IndyCar Series two best road racers.
Other Fast Six finishers: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe round out the top-3. New Andretti Autosport driver Takuma Sato, put his poor showing in practice behind him for qualifying, landing in P5, while Tony Kanaan, Dixon’s team-mate at Chip Ganassi Racing finished in P6.
Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais failed to put in a time after causing a red flag in Elimination Round 1, Group 2. Bourdais locked up hard at T13 and ended up in the tyre wall, similar to Sato in Practice 2. Under IndyCar Series regulations, Bourdais had his times disallowed and was unable to continue. He will be able to race.
Other notables, reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi was a strong P8. A. J. Foyt Enterprises’ Conor Daly finished P20, beating out Bourdais who didn’t set a time. Rookie Ed Jones qualified P18 for Dale Coyne Racing.