IndyCar: Power secures pivotal third pole of season in Milwaukee

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WEST ALLIS, Wis. – Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Will Power captured an important and pivotal third pole of the season for Sunday’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet laid down the only two-lap average north of 169 mph, with a 169.262 enough to secure the pole position.

Power went out ninth in the 22-car field and like a handful of others, just caught the cloud cover over the Milwaukee Mile at just the right time.

“Yeah, I definitely wasn’t expecting those sort of speeds,” Power said. “Based on practice, we were expecting 22-second laps. Yeah, the car was very solid. Obviously had the information of my two teammates before me of which direction the balance went.

“Didn’t have to adjust the car much. Yeah, just good laps. I didn’t expect to be on pole, but I thought I’d be somewhere at the front.”

Behind him, Tony Kanaan qualified second in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, as he seeks his third Milwaukee win (2006, 2007) and first win this season. If Kanaan breaks through, he’d become the 11th different winner of 2014, which would tie a North American open-wheel record (2000, 2001 in CART).

“I think we have a pretty good chance. Like you said, the four cars are extremely strong,” Kanaan said. “We’re in the front row. We’ve been showing how quick we’ve been, how good we’ve been everywhere. We’ve just really got to get a little bit of luck on our side sometime. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll challenge Will and some of the guys.

“I think we have a good car and a chance to win.”

The pair of Chevrolets lead a Chevy-dominated top 10, where only three Hondas broke in after pacing most of practice.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Briscoe are on Row 2 – both are prior Milwaukee winners (2000, CART and 2008, IndyCar, respectively).

Josef Newgarden was the best-qualifying Honda in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, now featuring Direct Supply primary sponsorship this weekend, in P5. Charlie Kimball posted a Milwaukee-best sixth on the grid.

Ed Carpenter and Power’s Team Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves make up Row 4 with Marco Andretti and Takuma Sato, the latter of whom has his primary sponsor ABC Supply Co. as the race sponsor, completing the top 10.

James Hinchcliffe, who led both practice sessions, qualified 13th in his repaired No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda, which required an all-hands-on-deck effort from the Andretti Autosport crew. Andretti’s team collectively missed the setup in qualifying with none of their cars making the top eight.

Other title hopefuls Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay struggled, clocking in at 16th and 19th on the grid respectively. They’ll have an uphill battle to stay in the championship frame from those grid positions; Pagenaud is now 65, Hunter-Reay 64 points behind Power heading into Sunday.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. – Qualifying Saturday for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.015-mile Milwaukee Mile, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, and speed:

1. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 169.262
2. (10) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 168.662
3. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 168.579
4. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 168.266
5. (67) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 168.233
6. (83) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 168.123
7. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 167.775
8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 167.561
9. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 167.079
10. (14) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 166.915
11. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 166.742
12. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 166.501
13. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 166.195
14. (15) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 166.032
15. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara-Honda, 165.851
16. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 165.818
17. (98) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 165.614
18. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 164.421
19. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 164.211
20. (34) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 164.013
21. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 162.535
22. (18) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 159.787

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.