Will Power claims pole for St. Pete

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Will Power netted his fourth consecutive pole at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, out-hustling Takuma Sato and a surging Simona de Silvestro to claim P1 for Sunday’s 110-lap main event (Noon ET, NBC Sports Network).

Power, who won at St. Pete in 2010 and was the fastest driver in yesterday’s practice sessions, threw down a lap of 1 minute, 1.2070 seconds around the 1.8-mile street course to earn his 30th career pole. With that, he became the first driver to score four consecutive poles at the same venue since Sebastien Bourdais pulled off the feat at Monterrey, Mexico from 2003 to 2006 in Champ Car.

“It’s been a very good start to the season,” Power told NBC Sports Network afterwards. “We just had to get through the [Firestone] Fast Six and look after the tires in the first two rounds, then see what we could do in the last one.”

Sato, who achieved A.J. Foyt Racing’s best qualifying result since 1998 (Billy Boat, Texas Motor Speedway), said that P2 was “a little [of a] shame” but was still happy with the result.

“The whole team did a fantastic job — not just for this weekend, but throughout the course of the winter,” said Sato.

But the biggest surprise came from De Silvestro, who struggled mightily with a Lotus engine in 2012 but now runs with Chevy-powered KV Racing Technology — and with the help of that stronger motor, she established herself as a potential podium threat for Sunday.

“The whole weekend has been going really well for us, and it’s really cool to finally get the results we wanted,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. We were right there with [Power] and Sato…It’s just really fun to be up there with them.”

James Hinchcliffe will start alongside De Silvestro in Row 2, while defending St. Pete champion Helio Castroneves and rookie racer Tristan Vautier make up Row 3.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda GP of St. Petersburg

Starting Lineup

Row 1

12-Will Power
14-Takuma Sato

Row 2

78-Simona de Silvestro
27-James Hinchcliffe

Row 3

3-Helio Castroneves
55-Tristan Vautier

Row 4

25-Marco Andretti
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay

Row 5

6-Sebastian Saavedra
10-Dario Franchitti

Row 6

11-Tony Kanaan
22-Oriol Servia

Row 7

19-Justin Wilson
83-Charlie Kimball

Row 8

15-Graham Rahal
67-Josef Newgarden

Row 9

98-Alex Tagliani
16-James Jakes

Row 10

77-Simon Pagenaud
9-Scott Dixon

Row 11

7-Sebastien Bourdais
5-EJ Viso

Row 12

20-Ed Carpenter
4-JR Hildebrand

Row 13

18-Ana Beatriz

Hartley says debut F1 point would be ‘a dream’ from last on grid

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Brendon Hartley says scoring a point on his Formula 1 debut would be “a dream” after being resigned to last place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix following an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso to replace Pierre Gasly for the USGP when the Frenchman was ruled out due to clashing commitments in Super Formula.

Despite having not driven an F1 car since 2012, Hartley came within one-tenth of a second of making it through to Q2 on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas, ultimately qualifying 18th.

“Obviously I’d love to be quicker but we knew we were starting at the back, so we put a lot of focus on long runs, getting the peak performance out of this Pirelli tire I didn’t get today,” Hartley told NBCSN after the race.

“In FP3 I had a good feeling. There’s a lot of quirky things to manage with these tires. Honestly I should be happy with how the weekend’s gone so far.”

The New Zealander will start last due to a 25-place grid penalty for changes made to his power unit ahead of practice on Friday, and is daring to dream of making the top 10 in his first race out of a sports car for more than five years.

“I don’t do the 24 hours completely alone!” Hartley joked. “It’s quick. It’s physical to drive. I’ll be happy to be done after an hour and a half.

“A point would be a dream starting from the back. If I can move forward and put a race together, I’ll be happy.”

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.