IndyCar: Juan Pablo Montoya edges Penske teammate Will Power for Pocono pole

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Juan Pablo Montoya scored a dramatic pole this afternoon in Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying at Pocono Raceway, leading a 1-2 run for Team Penske.

IndyCar championship leader Will Power appeared to have the pole wrapped up when he threw down a two-lap average of 223.725 miles per hour late in the session.

But on the final run, Montoya out-hustled the Australian with his two-lap average of 223.871 in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. The run was good enough to set both one-lap (223.920, Lap 1) and two-lap track records at the Tricky Triangle.

“It’s a first step, but we’re going in the right direction,” Montoya told IndyCar Radio after earning the 15th career pole of his open-wheel career and the first since returning to IndyCar.

“It’s nice to be on pole, and now we need to start getting some wins…I think we’ve got a good car. We’ll see what it brings.”

Montoya’s efforts made sure that Power – who leads Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in the championship by 39 points going into tomorrow’s Pocono IndyCar 500 (Noon ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra) – narrowly missed out on his third pole of the season

“I probably lifted a little bit too much in [Turn] 1, but I knew Montoya was going to be tough to beat,” Power said. “He ran a little bit more downforce, so since I wasn’t flat – yeah, I think he probably went wide-open.”

Andretti Autosport rookie Carlos Munoz was the only other driver outside Montoya and Power to have an average above the 223 mph mark. He turned in an average of 223.083 in his No. 34 Cinsay Honda.

Takuma Sato qualified fourth with an average of 222.798 mph that held the provisional pole until Power made his way onto the track.

Two more Andretti drivers, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe, followed in fifth and sixth. Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, and a pair of Ryans – Hunter-Reay, then Briscoe – settled in Positions 7-10.

One incident took place during qualifying as Josef Newgarden slid up the track and made contact with the wall in Turn 1.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES AT POCONO – QUALIFYING RESULTS
Qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, team-engine, and speed
1. (2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske-Chevy, 223.871
2. (12) Will Power, Penske-Chevy, 223.725
3. (34) Carlos Munoz, Andretti-Honda, 223.083
4. (14) Takuma Sato, Foyt-Honda, 222.798
5. (25) Marco Andretti, Andretti-Honda, 222.715
6. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Andretti-Honda, 222.544
7. (3) Helio Castroneves, Penske-Chevy, 222.517
8. (10) Tony Kanaan, Ganassi-Chevy, 221.970
9. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti-Honda, 221.950
10. (8) Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi-Chevy, 221.565
11. (77) Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt-Honda, 221.547
12. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt-Honda, 221.221
13. (20) Ed Carpenter, ECR-Chevy, 221.019
14. (15) Graham Rahal, Rahal-Honda, 220.747
15. (9) Scott Dixon, Ganassi-Chevy, 220.604
16. (19) Justin Wilson, Coyne-Honda, 220.439
17. (83) Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Chevy, 220.377
18. (11) Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH-Chevy, 219.741
19. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, KV/AFS-Chevy, 218.502
20. (18) Carlos Huertas, Coyne-Honda, 216.261
21. (67) Josef Newgarden, SFHR-Honda, No speed
22. (98) Jack Hawksworth, Herta-Honda, No speed

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”